Category Archives: Film Reviews (International)

Reviews of films made out of India, anywhere across the globe.

Silence (2016)

Silence Review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A film apparently waiting to be made for the last two decades; is it really worth the wait?

My Ratings: 4/5

Finally Martin Scorsese unfolds his latest, his so called ‘passion project’, and his third religion-based movie after The Last silence-reviewTemptation of Christ in 1988 and Kundun in 1997. And it’s an absolute beauty!

I pray but I am lost. Am I just praying to silence?’

Adopted from Shûsaku Endô‘s novel by the same name, it’s a tale about two Jesuit missionaries Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garupe (Adam Driver) who travel all the way to Japan to confirm the fact that one of their mentors, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) has publicly denounced God!

‘The moment you set foot in that country, you step into high danger.’

An eternal conflict about faith, religion and theology that seems to have no conclusive ending, or may be there is one?

silence-reviewThe film manifests some top notch performances specially by Andrew Garfield who is undoubtedly the most promising young actor of recent times!

Adam Driver is also superb and Liam Neeson as the wise controversial Father excels without fail. Even the Japanese cast Yôsuke KubozukaShin’ya TsukamotoTadanobu AsanoIssei Ogata and Yoshi Oida – they all have made their presence felt in the film.

Rodrigo Prieto does wonders shooting the mysterious foggy outdoors of Japan, and three times Oscar winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker creates magic with the images!

silence-poster2And composer duo Kathryn Kluge and Kim Allen Kluge truly do justice to the score of Silence.

Surprisingly non-commercial, even a bit too arty and poetic contrary to Scorsese’s usual raw, gritty and direct approach but then again it’s a 2h 41min of absolute visual brilliance.

It so much reminds you of Akira Kurosawa‘s work, not only because of Japan being the backdrop but also for the overall treatment and space used throughout the film.

‘I worry, they value these poor signs of faith more than faith itself. But how can we deny them?’

The premiere of Silence was held at the Vatican; and for me it matches up to be one of the best films directed by Scorsese till date – ‘Sometimes silence is the deadliest sound.’ 

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

Lion (2016)

Lion Review

written by Souranath Banerjee

 A passionate narrative that celebrates both emotions and technology at the same time!

My Ratings: 4.1/5

80,000 children go missing in India every year never again to be reunited with their families, unfortunate indeed.

But then how many of these lost children are fortunate enough to get adopted by some kind-hearted couple from Tasmania, who are lion-poster1not only willing to give them their family name, but also enough love and affection, education and freedom to relive their own lives?

Well, Saroo a kid from rural India who loves Jalebis, happened to be one such unfortunate, yet fortunate soul!

At the age of five an unintentional train journey took him to an unknown city, alone in the streets, miserable and hungry, missing his family, and on the verge of getting exploited. But then, he survives, was sent to an orphanage and from there taken for adoption by Brierley family from Tasmania!

The first half of Saroo’s tale is dramatic enough to be made into a motion picture but the story doesn’t end there!

lion-posterAfter 25 years Saroo decides to find his roots, his village, his people, his family – he comes back to India in search of his brother and mother!

Exceptional performance by Dev Patel as Saroo, supposedly he had spent eight months preparing for his role! But more surprising was debutant Sunny Pawar‘s role, who played the part of young Saroo and stole the show!

Then of course Nicole Kidman (a great come back for her), David Wenham and Rooney Mara all made their presence felt. The Indian actors – Tannishtha ChatterjeeNawazuddin SiddiquiDeepti NavalKoushik SenAbhishek Bharate all shined in their cameos. But again the performance of Priyanka Bose as Saroo’s mother deserves a special mention, she is so natural yet subtle!

lion-poster2Brilliantly shot by Greig Fraser and edited by Alexandre de Franceschi. And also well complemented by the music of Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran.

Since Saroo used Google Earth to try and locate his origins, Google have helped in the production of the film and gave the crew satellite imagery access and other technical support.

Director Garth Davis‘s Lion will remind you of Slumdog Millionaire but then for me it’s an entirely different treatment and story, after all it’s based on a true story!

P.S. – But why does the film named ‘Lion‘? Well, for a very good reason but you have to watch it to find it out!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

Elle (2016) – BEST OF 18TH JIO MAMI MUMBAI FILM FESTIVAL 2016!

Elle review.

written by Souranath Banerjee

If a rape victim desires to return to the act itself, then the next time, does she still remain a victim?

My Ratings: 4/5

Quality erotic thrillers are hard to find but then Basic Instinct director Paul Verhoeven often comes to our rescue.

elle-reviewHis latest French thriller Elle was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and also has already won the Golden Globe Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language and the lead Isabelle Huppert won for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama!  

The film starts with a disturbing rape scene that makes the audience uncomfortable enough but then the alarming normality maintained by the ‘victim’ as she continues to perform her daily routine becomes even more disturbing. Why doesn’t she complain about her violation? How can she be so inert about her abuse? Does she know the attacker or will she track him down?

Multiple relations and several interesting plot lines crisscross their paths, and one has to admire the Dutch director’s subtle use of comedy throughout the movie, but then again, the erotic undercurrent is what makes the film so special!

elle-reviewAnd of course Isabelle Huppert‘s brilliant performance!

Actually “Elle” means “She” and so the whole film is seen from the perspective of the central character Michèle and Isabelle Huppert simply owns the part. Her beautiful, sexy looks, her cold and courageous character, her raw animal desires and her level of supreme confidence – no doubt she is the spine of this film.

Though according to me the ending of the film doesn’t justify her character at all but then again a performance to cherish for sure.

Based on the novel “Oh…” by Philippe Djian, I think the best compliment for this film would be that it feels very much like a Michael Haneke film, a lighter version may be with a hint of comedy in it!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Nocturnal Animals review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A film entirely based on performances and awesome editing!   

My Ratings: 3.9/5

There’s a very interesting dialogue in the film that says ‘When someone loves you, you have to be careful with it!’ I think it applies to Cinema as well!

I mean when a film starts good, interesting characters and situations that quickly grab our attention, and a certain level of anticipation Nocturnal Animals reviewbuilds up – but at this point the director has to be ‘careful’ with his film. The ending if not delivered as per expectation can hurt the feelings of the audience.

Nocturnal Animals is one such crime drama that grips you right away with it’s unique nonlinear story telling but then by the end, the film tends to loose it’s excitement.

A woman reads a book manuscript written by her ex-husband while she ponders upon her relationships. Often brutal and painful, the script adopted from Austin Wright‘s novel is very real and told in style.

Some directors have a valour for the art of parallel editing, that is telling multiple stories together and ace fashion-designer turned director Tom Ford definitely have set an example of that technique in this film. The way he along with his editor Joan Sobel have played Nocturnal Animals reviewwith the time line of the film – switching back and forth between the fiction and reality, and also the past and present with recurring time jumps and match cuts is definitely commendable. 

Pretty realistic performances by Amy AdamsJake GyllenhaalMichael Shannon and especially by Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the lawless, conscienceless wicked soul.

Abel Korzeniowski‘s music gives the film the needed anchor that connects and binds the multiple stories together.

But I only wish that as an audience I could get as involved as Amy Adams while reading her ex husband’s novel till the very end.

A good one time watch though, specially if you want to learn some cool editing! 

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

La La Land (2016)

La La Land review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A Classic is born and it will make you sing and fall in love all over again!

My Ratings: 4.3/5

The original 1953 20th Century Fox logo reappears on the big la- la-land-posterscreen and makes it seem even bigger, and then the magic begins!

Yes, the resurrection of the old Hollywood charm, that feeling when the white shoes start tapping in rhythm and the dialogues metamorphose into soothing songs – the sheer magic of experiencing a musical, an odd combination of a modern classic!

And you are lost in the darkness of the theatre, well suspended on your disbeliefs, wondering in a world so full of love and dulcet melodies, absorbed in the sheer beauty of brilliantly choreographed, colourful, talking Cinema!

“How are you gonna be a revolutionary if you’re such a traditionalist? You hold onto the past, but jazz is about the future.”

Director Damien Chazelle‘s love for Jazz was pretty evident in his previous film Whiplash but this time he makes a more definite statement – a desperate effort to save Jazz!

And thus he join hands with Ryan Gosling who learns to play piano like a professional just for this film, and then Gosling’s chemistry la- la-land-poster1with Emma Stone (undoubtedly one of the best actresses at present) is just so sublime! When they dance looking at each other’s eyes – that’s a major part of the ‘magic’ in the film that I was talking about earlier!

Long song and dance sequences masterfully choreographed that takes Justin Hurwitz‘s music to another level; great camera work and colour play by Linus Sandgren and crisp editing by Tom Cross. But again along with superlative directional capabilities thanks to Damien Chazelle‘s brilliantly written love story!

Recommended only for those who adore Jazz, Musicals, Ryan GoslingEmma StoneDamien Chazelle and powerful Cinema!

P.S – Oscar winner J.K. Simmons makes a guest appearance where he seems to hate good music!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

Manchester by the Sea (2016) – BEST OF 18TH JIO MAMI MUMBAI FILM FESTIVAL 2016!

Manchester by the Sea review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A film so full of joy and sorrow, a sea of emotions and so very real!

My Ratings: 4.2/5

Certain films stay with us much longer than expected – like those few silly innocent moments of childhood, like a faded perfume of some beloved or like the sudden news of death of someone close to us.

Yes, writer/director Kenneth Lonergan‘s latest Manchester by the Sea is one such film that makes you relate and recollect to something deeper in yourself, a soul-stirring experience much more than manchester-by-the-sea-poster1just some characters stuck in a movie.  

It’s the story of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) who unexpectedly becomes the legal guardian of his teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges) after the sudden death of Lee’s brother Joe Chandler (Kyle Chandler).

A relatively simple storyline but uniquely layered and put together with sufficient expertise. Creditable both on the writing level as well as for it’s superb editing style. The whole movie goes back and forth in between the present and the past, and thanks to editor Jennifer Lame, the experience is both genuine and emotional.

In the acting department this is undoubtedly Casey Affleck‘s best performance till date. I wish he gets all the awards this year for his flawless portrayal of an irresponsible loner afraid of any kind of commitments in life.

Michelle Williams (small yet memorable performance)Lucas HedgesKyle Chandler and child artist Ben O’Brien simply adds more value to the film, superb performances.

And on top of that Lesley Barber‘s soulful music and Jody Lee Lipes moody cinematography makes Manchester by the Sea an experience you don’t want to miss.

So, don’t you dare miss it!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016)

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Rather than labelling it as an ‘anti-war film’ let’s say it is an emotional tale of war and the warriors! 

My Ratings: 3.9/5

Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonBrokeback MountainLust, CautionLife of Pi – there is one man who is behind all these masterpieces, the acclaimed Chinese director Ang Lee!

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk reviewAnd it’s a war film! Well, actually a more sophisticated version of a war movie where the aftermath of the battle takes up the centre stage.

Based on the novel by Ben Fountain and screenplay by Jean-Christophe Castelli, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk essentially revolves around 19-year-old Billy Lynn, a war hero, retuning home from Iraq on a victory tour with his entire squad (the survivors of the gruesome war). 

His memories and flashbacks of the battlefield, his personal heroic efforts and the lives lost in the combat – these are the crux of the film, put across through a superbly knitted nonlinear storyline.

Through John Toll‘s brilliant visuals and Tim Squyres innovative back and forth editing, no doubt Ang Lee has told his story in style!

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk reviewBut then again the performances make the 1h 53min film such a delight to watch; especially debutant Joe Alwyn who played Billy Lynn was incredibly natural!

Then of course we have brilliant actors like Garrett HedlundSteve MartinChris TuckerKristen StewartVin DieselBeau Knapp among others who have perfectly balanced the film. 

The only thing that bothered me was that it was a bit too vocal, like every emotion was spoken out in elaborate sentences loud and clear for the audience!

Then again Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is definitely a Cinema worth your time, highly emotional and also a cinematic achievement since it is the first film to be shot at 120 frame rate!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Not exactly related to the Harry Potter franchise, but definitely loaded with some magical VFX!

My Ratings: 3.7/5

The first of the promised 5 series wizard-drama opens up with a massive box office collection, 8.8 million just on the opening night!

All you Harry Potter fans, please wave your wands in the air and rejoice as you get to celebrate yet another magical journey penned down by none other than J.K. Rowling herself – her screenwriting fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-poster1debut!

A tale straight from 1926, the time when the Wizard world collided with the Muggle world because of a young man named Newt Scamander, who appeared in NewYork with a suitcase full of rare magical creatures, and then these so called ‘fantastic beasts’ managed to run loose in the city!

A genuine crisis for the Wizard world because the muggles (the non wizard people), whoever saw or got effected by these unique and often dangerous magical animals had to be obliviated (made to forget everything). And on top of that there was some untamed dark danger that kept lurking around, creating havoc in the city that had to be investigated too!

An adventure full of gripping moments, comedy and yes – loads of sparkling magic!

Directed by David Yates, who also directed the last four Harry-Potter-films. But this movie is definitely unique because though it fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-poster4has connections to the popular Harry Potter series and yet the film manages to stand alone as a distinctive individual story.

Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne becomes the central character Newt and as usual excels in his performance doing what he does best, playing the slightly eccentric genius. (Though it’s high time he should try something different, specially with his mannerisms and his overall body language).

Then there was Dan Fogler who made sure that the audience gets a good dose of comedy throughout the film, he is simply brilliant! Alison SudolKatherine WaterstonEzra Miller and Colin Farrell all did their part with enough conviction. 

A bit lengthy and certain scenes have been unnecessarily prolonged. And also too much dependent on VFX,fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-poster5 practically it seems visual effects is the true protagonist of the film. Though superlative quality of work by all the studios – Cinesite, Double Negative, Framestore, Image Engine, MPC, Milk VFX and Rodeo FX.

(Click the link for more VFX stories on this film)

Overall a decently entertaining film, but a must-watch if you are a member of the Potter fan-club!

P. S. – don’t you dare to blink or else you will miss the cameo by Johnny Depp!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.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.

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

Neruda Review

written by Souranath Banerjee

The tale of a fugitive poet and his flitting poetries; Cinema at it’s best!

My Ratings: 4.3/5

There is nothing as beautiful an experience as a blend of pure poetry in cinema; when the dialogues turn into lucid verses, and the visuals infuse with the rhythm of the poet’s manoeuvring voice.

Yes, that’s exactly what the film Neruda is all about!

Neruda ReviewEssentially based on two characters – “In this fiction, we all revolve around the protagonist. A hero and a supporting character.” 

‘The protagonist’ is none other than the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. But this is a story that dates much before the poet’s international fame, in the late 1940s when Neruda is being hunted in his own country for being a Communist!

And the ‘supporting character’ is Óscar Peluchonneau (played by none other than Gael García Bernal), the determined police officer who has the specific orders to hunt down Neruda – to ‘catch him and Neruda Reviewhumiliate him’.

Thus in between the priceless poetries and the endless humours, between the artist’s vulnerability and the stalker’s frustration – we experience a classic cat and mouse game, ‘a wild hunt’ that ends the way you would have least expected!

Directed by one of my favourite filmmaker Pablo Larraín, this one has already been selected as the official submission of Chile for the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category for the 89th Academy Awards in 2017!

The performance of a life time by Luis Gnecco, as he plays the ever-popular, exotic, intellectual poet, Mercedes Morán as his aristocratic  wife and then of course the stunning Gael García Bernal, the man Neruda Reviewwho will chase down Neruda till the snowy surreal horizon.

Sergio Armstrong keeps the visuals artistic and beautifully wide-angled while Federico Jusid‘s music often adds a certain comic touch to the film.

Neruda, an unconventional biography, a poem in itself, a celebration of a genius and also a cinematic brilliance!

“Tonight, I can write the saddest lines.                                                                          I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.” – Pablo Neruda.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.