Category Archives: Classics

There is a reason why they are called Classics. Must watch!

Best of Classic Short films (10+1list)

Best of Classic Short films

written by Souranath Banerjee

According to many acclaimed filmmakers short films are not merely the base of learning the grammars of filmmaking, but also a craft in itself!

It’s a challenge even for the most reputed directors to get the desired impact from a short film within the brief specified time limit; it has to be compact yet meaningful, gripping and yet soulful.

And these list of classic shorts are probably the most innovative and provoking films ever made in the history of short films.

Take a look.

10. The Red Balloon (1956)

The only coloured short in this list, and also the only short film to win an Academy Award (for Best Screenplay) outside of the short film categories!

Directed by Albert Lamorisse, this magical short is about a little boy (Pascal Lamorisse, son of director Albert Lamorisse) and his unusual pet – a bright red-balloon!

The ballon of course has been interpreted in many symbolic ways but the sheer beauty of a red balloon floating around the beautiful streets of Paris is enough reason to watch this 34 min classic. 

9. One Week (1920)

A newly married couple (Buster Keaton and Sybil Seely) plans to built their own high-tech home but then someone must have played around with the how-to-built instructions. Hmmm ….

The house gets made but of course don’t expect any regular house for this couple.

Directed by Edward F. Cline and  Buster Keaton, this is a power pack 25 min dose of pure laughter and historic gags/stunts that surely will entertain us much more than just ‘one week’!

8. Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962) 

Directed by Robert Enrico, this one is a period short film with the backdrop of Civil war, situated (as the name suggests) at the Owl Creek Bridge where a man is going to be hanged for mutiny.

Just as the execution was about to take place the rope breaks and the man escapes for his life, a desperate attempt to get reunited with his beloved wife. Will he be able to make it?  

This 28 min short without a single dialogue says a lot more than you can ever imagine!

7. Easy Street (1917) 

Directed and acted by Charles Chaplin, this one is an epic short film, probably one of Chaplin’s earliest short that did predict his potential to become one of the most successful man ever in the history of Film making! 

A tramp becomes a police officer and now he must fight it out with the biggest bully on the street! 

Along with Edna Purviance and Eric Campbell this 24min slap-stick comedy is as hilarious as it can get. 

6. Entr’acte (1924)

Intriguing is the word that directly comes to our mind as soon as we start watching this bizarre 22 min short film.

The innovative juxtaposition of images, the transitions, the brilliant camera angles (much ahead of it’s time) and overlaps, the element of speed incorporated along with the eccentric soundtrack in the background – directed by René Clair the film though difficult to interpret is still an enigma, a masterpiece, a rule-breaker.

One of the best classic surrealist short film ever made!

5. The Smiling Madame Beudet (1923)

An intelligent woman trapped in a loveless marriage, an irritating husband and then we have a revolver that may not be empty anymore!

Directed by Germaine Dulac, this silent 26 min short is regarded as one of the first feminist movies ever made!

4. La Jetée (1962)

Paris in the aftermath of WWII, a montage of pictures that takes us through the unknown passages of time, memories that combines the past, the present and somehow the future as well.

Directed by Chris Marker, this film is an absolute beauty, and probably the best example of how still images along with a voiceover can tell a powerful story on it’s own.

A true classic!

(I couldn’t find the whole film in youtube. This is just the starting bit of the 28 min film)

3. A Trip to the Moon (1902)

One of the earliest known science fiction and also the first animated film ever attempted!

Taking Jules Verne‘s novel, “From the Earth to the Moon” as the source material, director by Georges Méliès made this unique short featuring a group of astronomers going on an expedition to the Moon!
This 13 min stylised classic will always be on every must watch short film list. 

Another short from the same directot Georges Méliès that is worth your time – The Voyage Across the Impossible (1904).

2. Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Talking about surreality; eccentric, bizarre and often grotesque imagery – well, you have come to the right place.

A unique collaboration between Luis Buñuel (director) and Salvador Dalí (writer) which resulted to this short 16min classic that tops the list when it comes to the most disturbing shots ever compiled together to provoke the audience.

Another brilliant short that is a must watch from the same director Simon of the Desert (1965).

  1. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

Directed by Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, this film is one of the most stylish classic short that portrays the possible dreams of a woman, a surreal look into her thoughts, her desires, her subconscious mind.  

Repetitive images, playing with shadows, jump cuts, experimental camera tricks and the eerie soundtrack – 14min of all these give enough scope for multiple interpretations, symbolisms and certain cryptic significances throughout the film.

Two other classic short films also from Director Maya Deren that are totally worth your time At Land (1944) and Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946).

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

+1. The Arrival of a Train (1896) 

Although considered to be among the first motion pictures in modern history but actually it was the first major public display of the ‘invention’ of film.

Directed by Auguste Lumière and Louis Lumière (the Lumière Brothers), this 1 min historic film when exhibited for the first time at a Parisian café (Grand Café) on 28th December 1895, it is said that the first-night audience literally ran out of the café in fear of being run over by the “approaching” train!

Such is the power of Cinema!

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

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Best Classic Christmas Films of all time (10+1list)

Best Classic Christmas Films of all time.

written by Souranath Banerjee

Ho Ho Ho, Santa Claus is here.

Well, I am sure the old bearded man is almost there, reaching your place with all your specific demands but till then you can enjoy the Best Classic Christmas Films of all time; a humble Christmas gift from Cinema Forensic!

Classic Hollywood romantic comedies with a touch of Christmas in them, the likes of It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), The Shop Around the Corner (1940), Holiday Affair (1949) and It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947) (though these four brilliant films are not included in the list below)

Enjoy the films and yes, Merry Christmas!

10. Holiday Inn (1942)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifkmvBNQhd8

Holiday-Inn-posterDirected by Mark Sandrich, this is the story of a special inn that opens only during the year-end holidays, and gives you a performance to remember throughout the year.

Brilliant chemistry between Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, a superb musical that boosts up the energy level of your Christmas holidays!

The song ‘White Christmas’ by Irving Berlin won the Oscar for Best Song!

9. Remember the Night (1940)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKcLcT9dOFk

Remember-the-Night-posterChristmas can make strange things happen, it can also make a serial shoplifter and her prosecutor fall in love!

But then what happens when the trial begins?

Directed by Mitchell Leisen, and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray this is one Christmas romance that can make you fall in love.

8. White Christmas (1954)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n3-UtakD3I

White-Christmas-posterBing CrosbyDanny KayeRosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen – and all the dancing and singing you can possibly imagine in one Christmas! 

The film has hit songs like ‘The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing‘ and the famous ‘White Christmas’

Directed by Michael Curtiz, this musical was that year’s most successful film. 

7. Holiday (1938)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcTo5vPm6Ng

Holiday-posterWith a dip in the jovial Christmas festive mood the film is about a man who wants to take a holiday in oder to find himself!

Original concept taken from a famous play, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant and directed by George Cukor, this is one film that dares to ask a few very fundamental questions about the balance of happiness, ambition and the need for money in our life.

6. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7guqfYsG0dE

meet-me-in-st-louis-posterDirected by Vincente Minnelli, a comedy drama full of music, life, energy and Christmas mood!

Judy Garland sings the famous Christmas song ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas‘ and then there is also the popular ‘The Trolley Song‘ as well.

Vincente Minnelli and Judy Garland met in the set of this film and got married soon afterwards!

5. The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAFneciOP0M

bishops-wife-posterA bit similar to the very popular film It’s a Wonderful Life, where angles come to solve our human problems.

With a very unique trailer, and an impressive star cast including Cary Grant,  Loretta Young and David Niven, this is one comedy drama that gets more interesting as Christmas approaches!

Directed by Henry Koster, a must for this winter holiday season.

4. A Christmas Carol (1951) aka Scrooge 

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97PwRDfHBlg

A-Christmas-Carol-posterAdapted from Charles Dickens‘s famous novel by the same name; though numerous films are made based on it but this one is my favorite till date.

Directed by Brian Desmond Hurst, and a great performance by Alastair Sim, the story of an old bitter miser named Scrooge, who on the Christmas-eve is being haunted by three ghosts!

3. Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePa6nx7T76w

Christmas-in-Connecticut-posterA famous food writer who claims to be a brilliant cook is giving a traditional family Christmas invitation for a returning war hero and her boss, but unfortunately the truth is she cannot cook at all!

Directed by Peter Godfrey, and starring Barbara StanwyckDennis Morgan and Sydney Greenstreet, a classic comedy drama focused on the day of Christmas. 

2. Babes in Toyland (1934)

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

Babes-in-Toyland-posterStan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, the classic Laurel & Hardy combination that has given us numerous laugh riots is all set this Christmas to save their beloved ‘toyland’ from the clutches of the bogeymen. 

Directed by Gus Meins and Charley Rogers, a film that is funny and scary at the same time, and obviously a perfect Christmas special watch (though actually the story takes place in July).

  1. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ce_op2qG24

miracle-on-threefourth-street-posterAn old man is institutionalized when he claims to be the Santa Claus, every body thinks he is insane.

But then a young lawyer decides to defend him and argues in the courtroom that may be he is really THE Santa Claus.

Directed by George Seaton, starring Edmund Gwenn,  Maureen O’Hara,  John Paynea film specially made for all you Christmas romantics. 

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

+1. The Thin Man (1934)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqpO6mx8WCE

thin-man-posterDirected by W.S. Van Dyke, if you want your Christmas to be with a hint of excitement, this light hearted murder mystery is exactly the one you are looking for.

And William Powell and Myrna Loy together, they have the best on screen chemistry ever seen. 

A detective suspense thriller with a comic touch. A perfect Christmas special.

Poster courtesy: www.doctormacro.comwww.impawards.comwww.imdb.comen.wikipedia.orgwww.filmtotaal.nlthethinman1934.com.

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Best Hollywood Classic Romantic Films (10+1list)

Best Hollywood Classic Romantic Films.

written by Souranath Banerjee

Love is in the air!

When the blissful heart thumps too loud, the glowing smile doesn’t leave your face and your thoughts are always connected to someone special, don’t you dare deny it – you ARE in Love.

And if not, by the time you have finished watching all these films, i am sure you will be!

Well, here are some of the best Hollywood classic romantic films that are considered as the best love-stories ever told.

Let’s shower some love.

10. Gone with the Wind (1939)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dTsfsr6-X8

gone-with-the-wind-poster

Nearly four hours long but it’s totally worth it because of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh and their brilliant on screen chemistry.

Directed by Victor Fleming (and also George Cukor uncredited), this was the first color film to win the Best Picture Oscar.

Considered to be one of fifteen films that changed American cinema (for the good).

9. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urQVzgEO_w8

breakfast-at-tiffanys-posterFashion icon and superstar Audrey Hepburn was the highest paid actress at the time, her salary for the film was a whooping $750,000!

George Peppard and her chemistry was remarkable in the film, supported by eternally beautiful songs like the ‘Moon River’.

Based on Truman Capote‘s novel and directed by Blake Edwards, a love story to remember.

8. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOiIGUg6yLI

singin-in-the-rain-posterGene KellyDonald O’ConnorDebbie Reynolds in one the most famous romantic musical ever!

Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, interestingly the script of the film was written after the songs, and so the writers had to generate a plot into which the songs would fit.

In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #5 Greatest Movie of All Time.

7. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewe4lg8zTYA

its-wonderful-life-posterDirector/writer Frank Capra at his best, a film that has the most uncommon script and yet so emotional and romantic.

James Stewart at his career best performance and Donna Reed is amazing as well. 

It was nominated for five academy awards and won none. But that doesn’t make the film any less classic value than it deserves. 

Other romantic films by the same director It Happened One Night (1934) and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936).

6. An American in Paris (1951)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2WAMZRCbpU

american-in-paris-posterThis is one such film that makes you nostalgic and long for everything that was once so pure and classic.

Along with Leslie Caron and Oscar Levant, it’s so musical, so romantic and so Gene Kelly

Directed by Vincente Minnelli, there is a 17-minute dance sequence at the end of the film that took a month to shoot. It cost half a million dollars!

Other romantic films by the same director Gigi (1958) and The Bad and the Beautiful (1952).

5. Casablanca (1942)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkL9l7qovsE

casablanca-poster1With songs as melodious as ‘As Time Goes By’, with hunky Humphrey Bogart and the ever beautiful Ingrid Bergman – a love story that can’t go wrong. 

Directed by Michael Curtiz, the film has many unique qualities – the ‘The Battle of the Anthems’ scene, the last airport sequence and of course the chemistry between Rick and Ilsa!  

My personal favorite in the list.

Other romantic films by the same director The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and White Christmas (1954). 

4. Roman Holiday (1953)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GzCG6lpFUw

roman-holiday-posterGregory Peck with Audrey Hepburn in one of the most famous love story ever shot.

The film not only made Audrey Hepburn world famous but also rocketed the sale of Vespa scooter!  

Directed by brilliant William Wylerwho still holds the record of more people nominated to the Oscar sweepstakes for his films than any other director.

Other romantic films by the same director The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) and Funny Girl (1968).

3. An Affair to Remember (1957)

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

affair-to-remember-posterCary Grant and Deborah Kerr after falling for each other agrees to meet in six months at the Empire State Building. 

Well, lovers proposes and God disposes!

Great script, awesome acting and an emotional ending, director Leo McCarey‘s An Affair to Remember” is a film exclusively for the hard core romantics.  

2.  The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xr3nsHRKZJA

The-Shop-Around-the-Corner-PosterMargaret Sullavan and James Stewart hate each other but then of course without realizing that they are falling in love after all.  

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch, this one is a very next-door-kind-of love story, of two very common people with whom the audience can very easily relate to.

Sweet and romantic, with great script and brilliant acting all around.

Other romantic films by the same director Trouble in Paradise (1932) and Ninotchka (1939).

  1. My Fair Lady (1964)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mYPZ2C4sOE

my-fair-lady-poster

A movie that was advertised as ‘the most eagerly anticipated production since Gone with the Wind‘.

The film was based on the unique drama Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.

Directed by George Cukor, and starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison – one of the biggest grossing films of the time.

Other romantic films by the same director The Philadelphia Story (1940) and Adam’s Rib (1949).

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

+1. Some Like It Hot (1959)

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

some-like-it-hot-posterSuper hot Marilyn Monroe along with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, all together in this one; more of comedy than romance but again one of the all time favorite cinema.

Directed by Billy Wilder, in 2007, the American Film Institute ranked it #22 Greatest Movie of All Time. 

And it was also Voted #1 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Funniest Movies.

Other romantic films by the same director A Foreign Affair (1948) and The Apartment (1960).

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comhttps://en.wikipedia.org

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Bhuvan Shome – the beginning of the Indian New Wave/Art house Cinema

Bhuvan Shome – the beginning of the Indian New Wave/Art house Cinema.

written by Souranath Banerjee

In history we have witnessed many revolutions; be it the political revolts of common men against some tyrant, or simply a revolution of ideas (scientific, social, economical or cultural) that seemed to challenge and unshackle the primeval customs and convictions of the society.

Cinema being the most significant collective art-form that plays a pivotal role in developing and mirroring the different cultures has also been revolutionized many a times and always for good.

Mrinal-Sen-with-Satyajit-Ray-posterItalian Neorealism, the French New Wave, the Japanese New Wave – and then, finally it was India’s turn to surf the waves of experimentation. 

Renowned directors (the neo-realists as they were called) like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal SenRitwik GhatakKhwaja Ahmad AbbasTapan SinhaChetan AnandBimal RoyGuru DuttV. Shantaram, later joined by Shyam BenegalAdoor GopalakrishnanG. AravindanBuddhadeb Dasgupta, and Girish Kasaravalli, inspired by the foreign film movements made films that were unorthodox in both style and execution.

mrinal-sen-posterThe already popular ‘parallel cinema’ became more radical and avant-garde.

And thus in the late 60s, Indian Cinema was revolutionized once again and it was the birth of the ‘new wave of Indian Cinema’, popularly known as the ‘art house’ cinema.

It is said that Mrinal Sen‘s epic film Bhuvan Shome (1969) along with Mani Kaul‘s Uski Roti and Basu Chatterjee‘s Sara Akash were the very first creations of the Indian New Wave.

bhuvan-shome-poster1Based on a Bengali story written by Banaphool (Balai Chand Mukhopadhya), Bhuvan Shome was Mrinal Sen’s first film in Hindi language.

It had the first appearance of Suhasini Mulay as an actor, ace cinematographer K.K. Mahajan‘s first feature, first music composition for a film by Vijay Raghava Rao and also the first ever voiceover given by none other than Amitabh Bachchan (he wasn’t even introduced as an actor at the time).

That year the film bagged three National Awards Best Feature FilmBest Director and also the Best Actor (Utpal Dutt).

But more importantly, Mrinal Sen introduced a new kind of film-language that was innovative and amusing to both the audience and the critics of Indian Cinema.

bhuvan-shome-poster3The basic story line of Bhuvan Shome is surprisingly uncomplicated.

The lead character named Bhuvan Shome (brilliantly played by Utpal Dutt) is a high-posted railway official, a widower (probably in his late 40s) and also an authoritarianwho steps out of his mundane office routine with the intention of playing the hunter.

But after being touched by the beauty of nature and then an encounter with a sweet and mysterious village girl Gauri (Suhasini Mulay), Mr. Bhuvan Shome’s perspective of judgement changes and he finally learns to relax and enjoy life. 

bhuvan-shome-poster4Though the interpretation of the film is often made from a highly cynical overview – that Bhuvan Shome’s character was actually manipulated by the not-so-innocent villager girl Gauri whose (only) real motive was to save her husband’s job. But again that’s debatable.

In an interview director Mrinal Sen interestingly pointed out: Our intention was never to tame a tough bureaucrat. On the contrary, our intention was to “corrupt” a bureaucrat suffering from Victorian morality.

Probably it was Mrinal Sen’s first attempt to satirize the Indian bureaucracy and indeed a successful one.

Shot mostly in the deserts of Gujarat (such locations were also rarely used that time) the film cleverly exploits the city-to-village contrast scenario – the bullock carts and the muddy roads, the hospitable simple-minded villagers and the picturesque flock of flamingos!

Superbly innovative editing by Raju NaikGangadhar Naskar and Dinkar Shetye.

Right from the first shot of the railway tracks (from the point-of-view of the fast moving train perfectly synced with classical alap) to the creative documentary format of narration and then the extensive use of still frames, use of live footages and also the innovative utilization of animation – Bhuvan Shome was the most stylized and inventive film of that time.

bhuvan-shome-poster2A film so deliberately diverging from the general norms and trends of filmmaking and yet such a visual treat for the cinema lovers. An exceptional artistic triumph!

Bhuvan Shome was Mrinal Sen’s most successful film and also one of the first feature that trumpets the beginning of a new era in Indian Cinema – the rise of Indian New Wave/Art house cinema.

Photo Courtesy: www.mrinalsen.orgPhoto (Sen & Ray) Clicked By: Nemai Ghosh.

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Best Classic Silent Films – the power of visuals (10+1list)

Best Classic Silent Films – the power of visuals.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

In the midst of the endless dialogues, song sequences and background music we shouldn’t forget that Cinema is primarily a visual medium of story telling.  

As Alfred Hitchcock once pointed out:

‘If it’s a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.’

Alfonso Cuarón in an interview for his film Gravity did mention:

‘I think much of mainstream cinema are films that you can watch with your eyes closed. You enter the cinema, buy your popcorn, sit down, close your eyes, start eating your popcorn the movie begins and the movie ends you didn’t miss one thing because they told you everything. As opposed to you experiencing the film and seeing visual information.’

But believe it or not, in the earlier days of Cinema the directors had no choice but to tell their stories visually (sound wasn’t available due to some unavoidable technological deficiencies).

And yet, what marvelous films they made; the content and the visuals were so empowering that dialogues seemed redundant and pointless.

Well, here is a list of some of the best classic silent films ever made in the history of Cinema.

1. Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916)

FIlm trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzNL5JRTI6I

Intolerance-posterObviously D.W. Griffith is more famous for his film The Birth of a Nation but this particular film is probably his best work.

A blend of four stories, set in four different historical eras – French, Babylonian, Judean and Modern; tied together thematically by the subject of “intolerance”. 

At the time, it was the most expensive film but unfortunately not a commercial success.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: The Birth of a Nation (1915), Way Down East (1920) and Orphans of the Storm (1921).

2. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

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

Directed by cabinet-of-dr-caligari-posterRobert Wiene, probably the first ever horror film (made before “horror” was a designated genre).  

The sets were made out of paper and the shadows were painted on the walls – German expressionism at it’s best.

If you don’t know the meaning of the word ‘somnambulist’ and if you are a fan of serial killer mysteries – this is a must watch for you.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Crime and Punishment (1923) and The Hands of Orlac (1924).

3. Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS5kzTbNKjs

Potemkin-poster

Voted as the 11th greatest film of all time in 2012 Sight & Sound critic’s poll.

The sailors revolt against injustice which leads to a brutal police massacre (the famous Odessa steps sequence).

The genius of Russian director Sergei M. Eisenstein is best showcased in this particular film – a true masterpiece.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Strike (1925), October (Ten Days that Shook the World) (1928) and Old and New (1929).

4. The Big Parade (1925)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_-BvxzdOr4

Big-parade-poster

The highest grossing silent film of all time, it made $22 million during its worldwide release!

The first ever ‘war film’ of such epic scale, King Vidor directed this unique film portraying the horrors of war and the effect it caused on young soldiers.

And then there was the love story between an American soldier and a French girl – a perfect blend of war, romance and a bit of comedy too.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Wild Oranges (1924), Show People (1928) and The Crowd (1928).

5. The General (1926)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99TdN8W6EAA

general-poster

More of an action film with good doses of Buster Keaton’s straight faced comedy.

A man almost single-handedly spoils a train-highjack plan and saves his girlfriend too!

Directed by Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton, the film is a fast paced powerhouse of entertainment, physical comedy at it’s best. 

Other notable silent films made by the Buster Keaton: Sherlock Jr. (1924)The Navigator (1924), Seven Chances (1925) and Go West (1925).

6. Metropolis (1927)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSExdX0tds4

metropolis-poster

The film takes place in 2026 – the first ever SIFi movie and an inspiration to all the futuristic films yet to be made.

Most expensive film of the time, Fritz Lang took a year and a half to shoot and due to it’s commercial failure the production house UFA (Universum Film) went bankrupt.   

A cinematic brilliance, the best of German expressionism.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild’s Revenge (1924), Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922) and Spies (1928).

7. Sunrise (1927)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTID4ZVy6OE

sunrise-poster

‘Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans’ is voted as the 5th greatest film of all time in 2012 Sight & Sound critic’s poll.

An unique love story and a perfect cinematic experience – often regarded as the best silent film ever.

Directed by the famous German director F.W. Murnau the film is indeed the most emotional and captivating films i have ever seen. 

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Nosferatu (1922), The Last Laugh (1924) and Faust (1926).

8. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQj_3AY-E1g

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Voted as the 9th greatest film of all time in 2012 Sight & Sound critic’s poll.

This film directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer is a bible for portraying emotions and expressions with Close-Up shots.

Maria Falconetti, her performance as Joan od Arc is considered by many critics as the single greatest performance ever put on film.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Leaves Out of the Book of Satan (1920), Master of the House (1925) and Vampyr (1932).

9. The Wind (1928)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8Un8SBnjY4

wind-poster

A young girl comes to stay with her cousin in the west but the weather and the people were too rough for her to handle.

Directed by Victor Sjöström and superb performance by Lillian Gish, this one is undoubtedly the best silent western film ever.

The high-velocity wind was created by the propellers of eight aircraft stationed on location at Mojave Desert (where the film was shot).

Other notable silent films made by the same director: The Outlaw and His Wife (1918), The Phantom Carriage (1921) and He Who Gets Slapped (1924).

10. City Lights (1931)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_W1tOngo-w

city-lights-poster

A tramp who falls in love with a blind flower-girl – The ultimate Romantic Comedy ever.

Favorite film of Orson Welles, Andrei Tarkovsky, Stanley KubrickWoody Allen, and even Charles Chaplin himself considered this film to be his best. 

It was a silent film made during the sound era and still was a huge success.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: The Kid (1921), The Gold Rush (1925), The Circus (1926) and Modern Times (1936).

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

+1. Nanook of the North (1922)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN1qwowbXR4

Nanook-of-the-North-poster

Voted as the 7th greatest documentary of all time in 2014 Sight & Sound critic’s poll.

Probably the first proper documentary shot, director Robert J. Flaherty followed Nanook and his family in the freezing Arctics for a year to achieve this feat.  

A silent documentary made with great aesthetics and intimacy – an inspiration to all the travel/cultural documentaries made till date.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Man of Aran (1934) and Louisiana Story (1948).

And now a few other legendary silent films that are definitely worth mentioning:

Director Louis Bunuel‘s surrealistic short film Un Chien Andalou (1929), Edward Sedgwick‘s epic comedy The Cameraman (1928), Henry King‘s revenge saga Tol’able David (1921), Clarence Brown‘s film about love and friendship Flesh and the Devil (1926), Georg Wilhelm Pabst‘s take on lust and erotism Pandora’s Box (1929) and a perfect love triangle Wings (1927) directed by William A. Wellman.

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Best Bollywood Classics (10+1list)

Best Bollywood Classics.

written by Souranath Banerjee

Can anybody pin point the place so popularly know as ‘Bollywood’?

You cannot, because interestingly enough Bollywood does not exist as a physical place.

Bollywood’s existence is only in the form of it’s Cinemas; the films that are produced from in and around Mumbai (earlier called Bombay) essentially in the language ‘Hindi’.

When Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (popularly known as Dadasaheb Phalke) made the first Indian silent feature Raja Harishchandra in 1913; when Ardeshir Irani directed films like Alam Ara in 1931 (the first talkie film of India) and Kisan Kanya in 1937 (the first Indian colored film) – little did they know that some day the Bombay-based Film industry (Bollywood) will churn out the maximum number of films in the world!  

Bollywood is our planet’s largest Cinema factory, producing more than 1,000 films annually; about the double of Hollywood’s output!

And now let’s focus on some of the evergreen Bollywood classics; films which are adored by all generations and are directly responsible for Bollywood’s world wide success.

Here we go.

1. Do Bigha Zamin (1953)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmy8B_4bhAQ

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Staring Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy, the film is a classic tale of economic exploitation with which we can easily relate to, even today.

Directed by Bimal Roy, it’s the heart breaking story of a poor farmer who in order to free his land-debts takes up rickshaw-pulling as a profession.

The film won the first ever Filmfare award and also got a special mention at the Cannes film festival.

2. Shree 420 (1955)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRg65WuI1tY

Shree420-poster

Probably the most influential film of the time that took Bollywood to global popularity.

A man comes to Bombay with big dreams that eventually comes true but with a price of course.

Director/actor Raj Kapoor sets a trend with his baggy trousers and the Chaplin-hat as he goes along the road singing ‘mera juta hain Japani’.

3. Mother India (1957)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmPzpWQ5v_E

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Starring NargisSunil Dutt and Rajendra Kumar, it was the first Bollywood film that was nominated for the Oscars as the best Foreign language film from India.

The love and struggle of a single mother bringing up her two sons, director Mehboob Khan made the first ever Bollywood film with a female protagonist! 

4. Mughal-E-Azam (1957)

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

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A dramatization of the famous Mughal love story – prince Saleem (Dilip Kumar) who falls in love with a court-dancer Anarkali (Madhubala) against the will of his father, emperor Akbar (Prithviraj Kapoor).

Director K. Asif manages to get the best out of these brilliant actors. With only expressions and dialogues – this film is probably the best ‘love-story’ ever made. 

5. Pyaasa (1957)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBZYJAzz5ys

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A film about poetic injustice (literally), since it’s the story of a poet and his thirst for love, fame and recognition.

Guru Dutt, the visionary actor/director along with Mala Sinha and Waheeda Rehman brings us this masterpiece.

Soulful songs – Sachin Dev BurmanHemanta MukherjeeGeeta Dutt and Mohammad Rafi at their best.

The 50s and the early 60s were considered as the ‘golden age’ of Bollywood and rightly so.

6. Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCDbIT13MRY

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Directed by Abrar Alvi, an illicit love story full of passion and desire, hate and loneliness – an epic tragedy.

Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman and Rehman in the star cast but the one who really stands out is Meena Kumari. Her drunken outbursts and the sarcastic laughs are textbook even for today’s heroines who dare to take such courageous roles.

7. Anand (1971)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfGX2AEaMUU

anand-poster

A man who is too busy living his life to the fullest, too busy to notice his terminal illness, too busy to be afraid of his inevitable death!

Superstar Rajesh Khanna gives his career best performance and Amitabh Bachchan is a great support.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee‘s best, the film will make you laugh and cry at the same time!

8. Sholay (1975)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLhzpe3_V_g

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Bollywood enters the phase of hard-core action and this film is an epic in it’s own right. A true entertainer.

Ramesh Sippy‘s direction, the brutal clash between Gabbar (Amjad Khan) and Thakur’s (Sanjeev Kumar) hired ‘hands’ Jai (Amitabh Bachchan) and Veeru (Dharmendra).  

Hema Malini and Jaya Bhaduri takes care of the love stories on the side.

9. Deewaar (1975)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN1ptONRWpE

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Enters the ‘angry young man’ – the era of Amitabh Bachchan best portrayed by this particular film.

The anger and an attitude of revolt against the system, the underworld and the police, the clash of two brothers, and the dilemma of their mother.

Yash Chopra direction, staring Shashi KapoorNeetu SinghNirupa Roy and Parveen Babi

10. Bhumika (1977)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdcVs0nceOY

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Shyam Benegal was one director who held tight the reigns of art-cinema in Bollywood. This film is one of his greatest work and Smita Patil gives her best performance. 

The story of a girl growing up, her career, her affairs, her joy and her despairs.

Naseeruddin ShahAmrish PuriAmol PalekarKulbhushan Kharbanda all at their best.

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

+1.  Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spkmLziFFg4

Jaane-Bhi-Do-Yaaro-poster

And finally a comedy, an ultimate political satire, full of dark humor and many rib-tickling moments of absolute joy.

Directed by Kundan Shah, the film is about two photographers Ravi Baswani and Naseeruddin Shah who are sucked into a whirlpool of dishonesty, corruption and murder.

Om PuriPankaj KapurSatish KaushikNeena Gupta all at their best but towards the end of the film Satish Shah as ‘Draupadi’ is simply priceless!

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Best of Film Noir (Black Cinema)

Best of Film Noir.

Written by Souranath Banerjee.

Around 1946 Nino Frank, a French film critic first coined the term ‘Film Noir’ to define the series of stylized, high contrast black and white American films of that particular era.

Dark shadows, flickering neon signs, cheap urban settings, dingy alleys and backdoors, claustrophobic interiors, cynical looking men (mostly private detectives or street smart hustlers) wearing long overcoats drinking away, treacherous foxy women (femme fatales)  wearing a mask of innocence seducing away, corruption and betrayal, guns and murders, the certainty of unhappy endings and of course lots and lots of cigarettes. 

Enter the world of Film Noir (literal meaning ‘Black Cinema‘).

And here is a list of some of the best and most popular Film Noirs Hollywood ever produced.

1. The Maltese Falcon (1941).

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

Maltese-Falcon-posterThis particular film directed by John Huston (his debut) is said to have started the trend and set the mood for the innumerable Film Noirs that dominated Hollywood for the next two decades.

A perfectly twisted murder mystery.

Humphrey Bogart with his crooked handsome looks and the trademark nasal tone soon became the most popular Film Noir star of that era. 

2. Double Indemnity (1944).

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3wjJcuGsVE

double-indemnity-posterDirected by one of my favorite director Billy Wilder, this film is remembered to be the ultimate Film Noir that ever existed!

Brilliant script with superbly corrupted characters full of lust and deceit. Fred MacMurrayBarbara StanwyckEdward G. Robinson at their best.

The film was nominated at the Oscars in se7en categories!

3. Laura (1944)

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6f8jRplej8

laura-posterWith lots of flashbacks and surprise twists in the plot this film tells the mysterious story of a detective falling for the woman whose murder he is investigating!

Directed by Otto Preminger and superb performances by Gene TierneyClifton Webb and stunning Dana Andrews.

The film won Oscar in the best Cinematography category.

4. Mildred Pierce (1945)

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjK97CqVqWA

mildred-pierce-posterGreat storytelling, brilliant acting, chilling suspense and also an unexpected twist in the end. Yes, it has all of these and much more.

Class performances by Joan CrawfordJack CarsonZachary ScottAnn Blyth.

Directed by Michael Curtiz, one of the best emotional Hollywood classics and of course a super cool Film Noir.

5. Notorious (1946).

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8f4UOtLf5Q

notorious-posterAlfred Hitchcock joins the Film Noir wagon and gives us one of the best of this genre.

This film is a classic tale of love and betrayal – of trust and deceit; a dangerous spy game with the risk of frightening consequences if ever get caught.

Starring Cary Grant and beautiful Ingrid Bergman, very romantic and probably the best spy film ever.

6. The Big Sleep (1946)

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjJlBnfyiI4

big-sleep-posterOne of Humphrey Bogart‘s most famous performance and also a most prominent example of Film Noir.

Directed by the master director Howard Hawks this film plunges us into a whirlpool of darkness where blackmail and murder goes hand in hand. 

Lauren Bacall and Martha Vickers all at their best in this gripping thriller.

7. The Third Man (1949)

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjMDg1Z9_gA

The-Third-Man-posterWhen Joseph Cotten learns of his friend’s mysterious death he suspects foul play and is in search of the mysterious third man who might be present at the time of death.

One of the most popular member of this genre, the film is a perfect thriller with Orson Welles in one of his notorious performances.

Directed by Carol Reed the film is a classic by it’s own right.

8. The Big Heat (1953)

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3XA5FEKIx4

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With vengeance in his mind a cop goes after the city’s most dangerous crime syndicate.

A dirty game of politics and power  challenged by one man’s passion and a thirst for revenge; a film as brutal and vicious as it gets.

Directed by Fritz Lang (who specialized in such dark stories), with Glenn FordGloria Grahame and Jocelyn Brando playing their parts. 

9. The Night Of the Hunter (1955)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8dX6ZKJe2o

night-of-the-hunter-posterRobert Mitchum is determined to get his hands on some hidden money but the children won’t share their secret.

Directed by Charles Laughton this dark film has chilling moments of suspense.

Playing with shadows and silhouettes (the chiaroscuro
lighting technique) has always been an integral part of Film Noir but this one takes it to a different level.

10. The Killing (1956)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAe1CJWH_B8

killing-posterOne of Stanley Kubrick‘s earlier films and a perfect example of Film Noir.

Sterling HaydenColeen GrayVince Edwards playing their parts.

Classic drama full of tension and thrill, edited in a non-linear fashion.

This film is considered to be a huge influence on future non-linear films – the likes of Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994).

11. Touch of Evil (1958)

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-Oqn2hMp1M

touch-of-evil-posterPerformances by Charlton HestonJanet Leigh and Orson Welles – a thriller that is said to be the last of Hollywood’s favorite genre.

Directed by Orson Welles himself, it has kidnapping, corruption, murder and revenge. As the poster says – it is the story of the strangest vengeance that was ever planned!

A true classic to end the golden era of Film Noirs.

Even in the recent past a few films successfully managed to capture the nostalgia of the classic Film Noirs.

A few examples of such Neo-Noirs are The French Connection (1971), Chinatown (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), Blood Simple (1984), L.A.Confidential (1997), Blade Runner (1982), Memento (2000), Mulholland Drive (2001), A History of Violence (2005), Sin City (2005).

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Jalsaghar aka The music room (1958)

The Music Room review.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

My Ratings: 4.9/5.

The original negative of the 1958 classic film Jalsaghar (The Music Room) was destroyed in a fire. Coincidentally the film was also about destruction!

Universally acclaimed director Satyajit Ray‘s forth feature, based on a popular short story by famous writer Tarashankar Bandopadhyay.

jalshaghar-poster1A tragic drama, Jalsaghar is a brutal tale of a man’s struggle against time; his desperate attempt to cease the inevitable degradation, a futile battle against the humiliation of an inescapable extinction.

Huzur Biswambhar Roy (Chhabi Biswas).

A feudal landlord with a remarkably fine taste in classical music and an illusion of misguided grandeur.

Set in the pre-independence era, Huzur Biswambhar Roy is the perfect portrait of an affluent egoistic zaminder from Bengal who is too shortsighted to see the decline of his own zamindari.

Huge family portraits hung from the walls of his palatial ancestral home. Accompanied by his loving wife Mahamaya (Padmadevi) and his adorable young son Bireswar aka Khoka (Pinaki Sengupta), served by the manager of the estate (Tulsi Lahiri) and his loyal servant (Kali Sarkar) among many others and entertained by the performances of the best classical musicians of that time in his own music room (jalsaghar) – Huzur Biswambhar Roy was habituated to such blissful life of royal luxury. 

He even owned a horse named ‘Tufan’ and an elephant named ‘Moti’!

The-Music-Room-posterA pompous man too engrossed in his passion/addiction for music, too drunk in his own pride to notice that his so-called aristocracy and traditional authority is crumbing down to pieces.

With his insatiable urge of parading his supremacy over the new-age wealthy men like Mahim Ganguly (Gangapada Basu) Biswambhar Roy started draining all his family-wealth to arrange unique musical performances and extravagant family functions.

And then with the sudden tragic loss of his family Huzur is left alone – a grief-stricken aging man whose royalty seems to be fading away along with his wealth.

But does that mean he has also lost his zeal for music? His drive to show off his peerage by arranging yet another musical event in his favorite jalsaghar – may be for one last time!

‘To you my noble ancestors – to you!’ and Huzur Biswambhar Roy raises his wine glass as a toast to the portraits of his ancestors.

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Chhabi Biswas brilliantly portrays the degradation of Huzur Biswambhar Roy’s character. He manages to capture the insanity that lurks in the shadowy corners of that once opulent ancestral house, the character’s frantic struggle to resist the changes of time, his disturbing denial of accepting the reality.

Huzur’s pet elephant ‘Moti’ (the ancient way of transport) is cleverly compared to Mahim Ganguly’s loud-honking car in one single shot; even the glowing candles at the Zaminder’s palace become a direct contrast to the monotonous sound of the electric generator from neighbour Mahim Ganguly’s place – Satyajit Ray perfectly establishes these conflicts between the old and the new without the need of many dialogues!

With the slow yet engaging narration Ray masterfully captures the mood of that period. He manages to control his audience in a subconscious level; it feels like the film seeps in and creates it’s own hypnotic spell. (More like the mild flavor of ‘muchkundo phul-er papdi’ in Huzur’s favorite sherbet).

The shooting was done at Nimtita Raajbari, in Nimtita village, 10 kms from Murshidabad.

jalsaghar-poster3In Jalsaghar the isolated palace becomes a symbol of Huzur’s loneliness.

The huge mirrors, the life size human paintings, the swinging chandeliers, the trapped insect in the wine glass, the crawling spider on Huzur’s portrait – master director Satyajit Ray with these amazing visuals managed to evoke a certain sense of danger and uneasiness throughout the film.

Special credit goes to Bansi Chandragupta for his brilliant art direction and production designing in the film.

Subrata Mitra’s smooth camera movements and Dulal Dutta‘s editing give Jalsaghar the tranquility it deserves.

Among many famous shots in the film – the one with the reflection of the bright chandelier on Biswambhar Roy’s wine glass can be also interpreted as the fading reflection (remembrance) of his good times, his lost days of happiness, glory and wealth.

Music for Jalsaghar is given by Ustad Vilayat Khan and Robin Majumdar.

jalshaghar-posterThe film has some of the best Hindustani classical musicians performing. On-screen performances by legends like Begum Akhtar, a duet by Roshan Kumari (dancing) and Ustad Waheed Khan (singing) and famous Tansen’s ‘Miya ki malhar’ performed by  Salamat Ali Khan.

Satyajit Ray’s style of introducing Indian classical music to such an extent challenged the general norm of songs and dance sequences in Indian films of that time.

For me Jalsaghar is primarily a psychological drama where Huzur Biswambhar Roy actually fights a battle with himself (his Ego to be more specific); he refuses to open his eyes to the evolving world around him.

Jalsaghar when released though didn’t work at the Indian box-office but received both critical and financial success in Europe and US and helped Ray earn huge international reputation. According to many Critics Jalsaghar is his best film.

Watch it in a relaxed mind (if you already haven’t) … such films are rare to find.

Additional read: The Music Room: Distant Music by Philip Kemp.

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When Blue Jasmine rides A streetcar named Desire!

When Blue Jasmine rides A streetcar named Desire!

written by Souranath Banerjee.

As I was watching the 1951 classic A Streetcar Named Desire (again), this time I couldn’t help but pause over this particular dialogue.

“Why, I guess he’s just not the type that goes for jasmine perfume”

Vivien Leigh in a state of nervous humor voiced the above quoted line to define Marlon Brando’s character in the film.

In 2013 (after more than 60 years) the name ‘Jasmine’ used by Woody Allen for the lead character in his latest film Blue Jasmine doesn’t seem all like a coincidence after all – huh?

A-Streetcar-Named-Desire-poster5In 1951 little did Vivien Leigh knew that Miss Blanche du Bois (the name of her character in A Streetcar Named Desire) would rise like a phoenix from the ashes of it’s past Oscar glory (Vivien Leigh won the Oscar in the best actress category that year) and soar high to the same heights (since Cate Blanchett also won the Oscar in the best actress category) – only this time her name would be Jasmine.

Yes, in 2013 Woody Allen directed Blue Jasmine which in many ways is a modern and superficial comic version of the age-old classic A streetcar named desire directed by Elia Kazan. And Cate Blanchett masterfully plays the delusional sister (Jasmine) who has lost everything in life and yet awaits to loose a lot more. 

Basic story structure. (This fits perfectly for both the films)

Blue-Jasmine-poster-touch-upsIt is the story of a middle-aged woman who is robbed from her wealth, relations and social status; she comes to stay with her sister (her only family) in a desperate effort to live a better life.

She is too classy and refined for her new environment and thus has difficulty to cope up with her sister’s middle-class husbands/boyfriends. In her desperate attempt to survive she tries her best to fall in love. But unfortunately her scandalous past creeps up and crushes her sugary dreams of a satisfying future.

In the end she is more damaged than ever; delusional, helpless and alone in this unsympathetic world. A slow and brutal tale of human degradation, of failure and disappointment marvelously captured by both Elia Kazan and Woody Allen through their individualistic cinematic approach.

Personally I am so disturbed by the tragic ending(s). In a way it’s so real and possible – that’s why all the more scary.

 Jasmine Vs Blanche.

The basic contrast between Jasmine (in Blue Jasmine) and Blanche (in A streetcar named desire) lies in the core reason of their complexity.

streetcar-named-desire-poster1For instance Jasmine’s primary problem is the forced degradation of her social status/class. She declares herself broke but couldn’t get rid of her past expensive habits of flying first-class, tipping her taxi driver extra-good, carrying expensive fashionable bags; and she has also lost touch of actually working for a living.

On the other hand Blanche’s principal complication is related to her own fading looks (the negative effects of aging) which according to her leads to lack of companionship. She needs make-up and hot baths in regular intervals; extremely conscious about her looks, she craves compliments for her face, figure, hair, clothes, jewelries …

They were both happy in their own worlds but alas! – they are bankrupt and they both carry the burden of the tainted hidden secrets from their pasts. Their back-stories are pretty different but equally disturbing and they often intend to survive their past memories by having a drink or two.

“Who do you have to sleep with around here to get a Stoli martini with a twist of lemon?” – Jasmine.

Blue-Jasmine-posterAt the very beginning Jasmine flies from New York to San Francisco to her sister’s place blabbering all about her broken life story, then she takes the regular taxi to arrive at her destination. Whereas Blanche takes the train from Auriol to New Orleans and then takes the dramatically named streetcar called Desire to reach her destination.

Blanche gets to arrive in a much more dramatic way (even her first appearance is very noticeable as she mysteriously appears from behind the smokes and the crowd).

I feel that the amount of emotional drama is much more heightened as Elia Kazan (very much intentionally) compels us to take a roller-coaster ride through a series of extreme melodramatic highs and lows of emotions in his film A street car named desire. On contrary in Blue Jasmine (I am sure it’s again a deliberate decision) Woody Allen keeps all of it a tad subtle and wickedly comic, but mind you the overall emotional effect the film delivers is not played softly at all.

street-car-named-desire-posterThough Jasmine doesn’t have to face any physical violence (rape) as compared to unfortunate Blanche, but the rejection from their respective lovers, the dismissal from their sisters as well as the rest of the society is enough for them to loose their mind completely.

In Blue Jasmine the informative flashbacks are cleverly used in regular intervals to break the linear pattern of storytelling. Whereas in A streetcar named desire the vocal echo of certain words and memories (and also the sound of a shot fired) are beautifully layered as a continuous remembrance of the past and a constant proof of Blanche’s unstable mind.

And lastly the brilliant use of music – Blue Moon and the polka tune of Varsouviana.

Blue-jasmine-poster1Blanche (Vivien Leigh) often in a melancholy way felt nostalgic recalling the music to which she danced the Varsouviana; sometimes she would even imagine the same polka-tune playing in her head, the one they were playing in the Moon Lake Casino that tragic night when soon after her young lover Allan committed suicide.

On the other hand a unique way of portraying Jasmine’s blue world, Woody Allen used the song ‘Blue Moon’ not only as a music piece but a simple link to Jasmine’s once happy past; the song which was playing when she first met her husband Hal at a party. Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) repeats this romantic ‘Blue Moon’ story five times throughout the film to anyone who would care (or dare) to listen, and each time you cannot help but smile at her – a sad smile perhaps.

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