Call Me by Your Name Review:Intoxicatingly romantic, intensely erotic and definitely the best ‘Coming-of-age love story’ of our time!
My Ratings: 4.3/5
‘Sexual awakening’ is a tried and tested theme and some brilliant movies in the past like Moonlight and Blue Is the Warmest Color have portrayed the typical indecisiveness of the young curious mind in the most engaging and cinematic ways possible.
But then Call Me by Your Name though delving with the similar adolescent dilemma hits the audience as the fresh morning air and takes away our breath by the sheer beauty and subtleness of the story and its charming characters!
Set in early 1980, surrounded by the dreamy countryside of Northern Italy, stands a picturesque villa in the midst of lush green valleys, fruit orchards and blue lagoons, and there blooms an illicit love story – an irresistible chemistry between a seventeen year old boy and a man in his mid twenties that finally oozes into one of the most emotionally captivating relationships painted on celluloid!
‘Call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine.’
Elio (Timothée Chalamet) the young son of an archeology professor meets Oliver (Armie Hammer), a handsome American graduate student, who visits as an intern for the summer – and those six weeks of summer changes their lives forever. Especially Elio’s as the story is being told mostly from his perspective – not only does he discover love but he also reinvents himself.
Now the genius of director Luca Guadagnino (famous for the films I Am Love and A Bigger Splash) is not only in unfolding passion in the most lucid and eloquent manner (almost as if in slow motion) but also for treating the characters with electric erotism and yet never being carried away to the extent of indelicacy.
Never objectifying the central characters, never categorising their desires (both the leading men are shown with relationships with women as well), titillating but always with an uncanny sense of spontaneous sophistication – both James Ivory (writer) and Luca Guadagnino (director) have adopted André Aciman‘s novel and made it into something very special and ageless!
And kudos to the exceptional performances by Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet – they have managed to perfectly portray the volatility of their relationship. And a special mention to Michael Stuhlbarg specially for his brilliant father-son dialogue delivery towards the end of the movie. Classic!
Poetic, alluring and ageless, as beautiful as the nude Greek male torsos that keep appearing in the film at regular intervals – probably the symbol for the eternal signature of love and passion.
Mother! Review: What on earth is happening and why doesn’t God do anything to stop these talented directors from going rogue in the name of symbolism? – there goes your cryptic God-Mother Earth theory!
My Ratings: 3.5/5
Mother! is one of the most talked about film of this year with extreme reviews from both the audience and the critics, extreme positives and extreme negatives!
Then the poster says ‘The most controversial movie in decades’ and you think why are these people trying to sell a Darren Aronofsky film by just hi-lighting on its controversiality aspect? Not as a brilliant horror film, or as a superb thriller or mystery or drama – but simply as ‘most controversial’. And then you watch the film and realise that the poor marketing people didn’t have much of a choice!
The story of a woman (Jennifer Lawrence), who wants to be a mother and eventually becomes one with the help of HIM (her partner Javier Bardem). But in between, a number of guests appear at their house, all uninvited (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer to start with) and from there the film plunges into sheer catastrophe portrayed through a series of unimaginably horrific experiences that – let me see how to put it without giving away much details – that takes away all her fun of being a mother!
Now it’s difficult to merely narrate the plot of a movie like Mother! without wrapping it up into various symbolic metaphors. It is so uniquely chaotic and absurd for the real world (hopefully a caricature of the real world itself) that even while watching the film you constantly look for some allegorical inklings and eventually when you connect to the Biblical symbolisms which at certain points are pretty much on your face – you finally feel at home and buckle up to absorb the rest of the gore and insanity!
Acting wise pretty decent performances by all, specially the supporting characters Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer are terrific! Bardem though given much less screen time makes his presence felt and Jennifer Lawrence – her naivety and helplessness somehow reflects the anxiety of the audience – it’s like ‘why is this happening to me’ and this feeling doesn’t leave you till the very end of the film!
The one thing I really appreciate is the cinematography of Matthew Libatique that creates a certain earthy mood that is essential for the movie. The repeated close-up shots of the Mother character makes us feel what she is going through, we desperately try to relate with her inner turmoils.
I have been a big fan of director Darren Aronofsky‘s previous works – the likes of Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, Black Swan and Pi and they are all psychologically disturbing to certain extents but for me his latest film is a bit too deliberate an attempt to create uneasiness – it’s like forcefully pushing a certain riddle/cipher through the audience’s throat than actually trying to create quality Cinema!
A film that you may like or dislike but certainly it will make you think and discuss and figure out what the hell did you just watch! May be Mother! was destined to be neither good nor bad but simply controversial. Fair enough!
A Fantastic Woman Review:Love is an empty word without respect but the real question is how much disrespect can one endure for the sake of his/her love?
My Ratings: 4/5
A Fantastic Woman originally titled as Una Mujer Fantástica is a film directed by Sebastián Lelio, one of the most prominent figures of the post-dictatorship Chilean cinema. And his latest is this years’s official submission from Chile at the 90th Annual Academy Awards for the Foreign Language Film Award!
The idea of a man who chooses to become a woman, to live and die as a woman and wishes to be loved and treated like one is something that often people cannot accept without a certain hint of prejudice. And this is the touching story of a trans-woman named Marina, a young night club singer who aspires in this brutal society to live her life with as much dignity as any other human being.
She is in relationship with an older man named Orlando (Francisco Reyes). They are happy and in love but again that doesn’t guarantee that their romantic liaison will be wholeheartedly accepted and/or respected by others, especially by Orlando’s direct family (his ex-wife and a prick of a son).
And thus after the sudden demise of Orlando, Marina has to go through a series of humiliating and degrading events that made her fight for her self respect, her pride and also for the rights for her lost love.
Daniela Vega who is a trans-woman in real life played the central character in the film with surprising efficiency. Most of her inner strength is expressed through her eyes – a brave soul with immense determination and yet so emotionally vulnerable, ready to face all the odds for the one who she loved so dearly!
And very intelligent storytelling by director Sebastián Lelio as he keeps the film very real, not once opting for any overdramatic cliches and providing just enough information to keep the viewers hooked through the otherwise pretty straightforward linear script.
Certainly the best transgender drama of recent times; this is the story of a woman who doesn’t allow anybody to dictate terms in her life, a woman of integrity, bold yet compassionate, sensual yet devoted – yes, she is indeed a fantastic woman!
The Window Review: The eternal agony, anguish, anxiety, the angst and the apprehension of a man/writer.
My Ratings: 3.5/5
There have been numerous fictional films about writers that have emphasised on the weird imaginative world of a penman. Many of these movies make fun of their insecurity, some romanticise and even sympathise with them for being eccentric but very few have actually managed to empathise with a writer’s passion.
The Window, a film written and directed by VK Choudhary does exactly that and tries to portray the reality of an arrogant writer’s life (assuming writers being arrogant is part of that reality).
The film revolves around Lekh Kapoor (Amit Vashisth), a man who claims to be superior to his surrounding world just because he is a writer, that too a self proclaimed one!
His personal life is a mess but still he peeps out of the window inviting himself into more trouble; he cribs and vents out enough frustration throughout the movie for choosing to be the stereotypical bearded, long-haired, bidi-sucking scriptwriter on his quest to change the form of Cinema for good. But at the same time he takes immense pride in his struggle for art, for representing himself as the misunderstood talent yet to be discovered.
This low-budget film with a very Indie feel is constructed out of a series of conversation scenes (mostly indoor and handheld) between Lekh and his friends and family who eventually shell out enough information to help us perceive the obsessed writer’s persona, his complexes and fears (which are quite a handful).
The younger brother (Atul Hanwat) who urges Lekh to get a life, join the well-salaried job for which he is perfectly qualified, and to get back with his sweet, soft spoken wife. The wife (Preeti Hansraj Sharma) who cheated just once in the past that too it seems because of Lekh’s negligence but still obviously loves him, wants Lekh to excuse their past differences and come back (and probably to shave his ugly beard). And of course the abusive mother (Sayoni Mishra) who is solely focused on making everybody’s life hell around her!
Then there is his friend/film-industry-contact (Praveen Maheshwari) who wants Lekh to write something commercially sellable rather than the artsy stuff he is into. The authoritative producer fellow (Ravi Patil) who again wants the same thing but is less friendly while expressing it to our snobbish writer.
The thing common about these characters are that they all want to change Lekh in someway or other, make him lead a life he detests and take away from him his prized identity of being the distressed artist. But then comes Maya (Teena Singh), a seductress who can easily decode Lekh’s complexities, an enchanting captive from another world.
Intelligent use of music by Kasturi Nath Singh and Vishal J. Singh that goes well with Dhruvan Gautham‘s cinematography.
The film perhaps a tad too long and at times monotonously chaotic, has a certain honesty about it that stays with you for longer than you expect. The reason for this may be the natural performances from the cast (especially Amit Vashisth and Sayoni Mishra are fantastic) or may be the autobiographical treatment of the script by the young director VK Choudhary. The madness of his protagonist in a shabby claustrophobic 1bhk where he gets his brilliant ideas only to be rejected by the world seems somehow very possible and real.
And that is the reason we need more films like The Window to reach the theatres which strive to give you tangible characters and believable locations most often never an option for the so called big-budget movies.
Photo and poster curtsey:The Window production team.
Loving Vincent Review:Only on a few rare occasions when the visuals of a film enthrall you to such an extent that you gaily forgive the banality of the storyline!
My Ratings: 4/5
Loving Vincent is the world’s first fully painted feature using oils on canvas!
A team of total 125 classically trained professional artists created 65,000 frames that finally resulted into 853 different oil paintings, each of them hand-painted using Van Gogh’s iconic style and technique!
And the result is irresistibly disarming; watching your favorite Van Gogh masterpieces coming to life in front of your very eyes is more like a dream (that you didn’t know you always had in your subconscious) coming true!
The plot concerns with an unopened letter from Vincent Van Gogh (the artist’s final letter) for his brother Theo, that needs to be delivered by a not so keen young man named Armand Roulin. Armand finds his traveling to Auvers-sure-Oise for the sake of this one-year-old-letter utterly pointless since he soon comes to know that both Vincent and Theo are dead!
But then once arriving at the village where Van Gogh used to reside till his last day, knowing the place and the people, Armand becomes fascinated by the life and death of the troubled Dutch painter! Did he really shot himself as most of them are convinced or was he murdered?
Well complemented by Clint Mansell‘s soulful music, 120 of Vincent Van Gogh’s finest works have been integrated into this amazing film!
Firstly the actors performed the whole movie in-front of the green-screen, their action turned into black outlines which was then projected into the artist’s painting-boards where they painted the full scenes using Van Gogh’s paintings as references. These paintings then photographed and put in-sequence, and then edited to create the final magic!
Probably the slowest form of film-making but I must say it certainly is the most satisfying visual experience ever!
If you are a fan of Cinema, a fan of Art, a fan of Van Gogh, or a combination of any of these three – you better go watch Loving Vincent!
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!
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 Clairthe film though difficult to interpret is still an enigma, a masterpiece, a rule-breaker.
One of the best classic surrealist short film ever made!
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.
Directed by Maya Deren andAlexander 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.
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!
Simran Review:Kangana Ranaut is a hit but that doesn’t mean Simran (the movie) shares the same fate.
My Ratings: 3.6/5
The Bombshell Bandit: In mid 2014 a young girl of Indian origin wearing a wig and over-sized sunglasses, and pretending to be wired with bombs went on a five-week crime spree robbing four banks across three U.S. states (Arizona, California, and Utah), until finally she was arrested and taken into custody. Her name was Sandeep Kaur, who was a nurse by profession, a gambler by avocation and a bank robber out of desperation!
Now, in the movie Simran the character of this daring girl played by Kangana Ranauthas got a new identity, being called Praful Patel, her profession also altered to a housekeeping-lady and then with plenty of obvious dramatics tossed in – we are finally introduced to this bizarre tale of the lipstick bandit(yup, bandit-name modified too).
Directed by acclaimed Hansal Mehta, written by Apurva Asrani (and may be Kangana Ranaut too!) the film Simran is a women-centric movie perfectly balanced on the petite but confident and able shoulders of the lead actress, none other than three times National award winner Kangana Ranaut!
And this time (again) she is remarkable to watch, her transformation to a typical NRI Gujarati girl enjoying her independent Amreeki lifestyle is simply flawless. Her zeal for life, her intensity to fight back, her yearning to live life to the fullest and most importantly her flaws and deficits – is what makes the film worth watching (that too no comparison with her performance as Rani from Queen).
But then the real question creeps in – does the other characters or even the script of Simran match up to her brilliance? Honestly no!
Often a movie gets stuck midway in-between a sensitive drama and a commercial comedy flick and unfortunately that’s exactly what has happened in this case.
Stereotypical characters, certain forced dramatic dialogues, the abrupt unnecessary need of comic reliefs with funny background scores – such absurdities takes away the film far from what could have been an incredibly emotional film.
Sohum Shah as the potential husband was decent, surely far better than the ever-fuming dad Hiten Shah or any other secondary characters.
The songs in the film doesn’t make much impact neither does any particular set of visuals, overall a decent flick that seems to be made purely to promote the sheer brilliance of one lead actor.
If only the movie Simran could have emphasized more on the reality of the true emotions – the anguish, the torment and the helplessness of the characters rather than awkwardly trying to please the Bollywood crowd with a happy end.
If only films like Dancer in the Dark (2000) were made in our country, not necessarily dark or tragic to that extent but at least true to its intent and content. I wish …
A movie that probes into the psychology of death, but then also, it’s so full of life!
My Ratings: 4.2/5
Nowadays most of the Hindi films released can deftly be categorised to the limit of some particular genre, and easily conjecturable to a certain theme or message or even the complete lack of it!
But then once in a while a few unique films emerge (fortunately) which dare to defy such generalisations, and restrict themselves from spoon-feeding the audience with ponderous morals in-between ceaseless cheesy histrionics.
Yes, Mukti Bhawan is one such film that cannot be bound into one specific keynote, it has to be experienced on the whole, much like an opera, or like life and death!
When 77-year-old retired school-teacher Dayashanker Sharma (Lalit Behl) senses his life’s extremity (the hint being a curious recurring dream), it becomes obligatory for his son Rajiv (Adil Hussain) to comply (though grudgingly) with his old man’s somewhat odd request – an immediate visit to the holy city of Varanasi.
Varanasi, the essential and well utilised backdrop of the film, ordained by the sacred Ganges the ancient Indian city that epitomises spiritualism and divinity. And aged Dayashanker believes that death in this holy city can be his ticket to eternal salvation – an escape from the inevitable cycle of life and death!
And thus, to the surprise of the rest of the family that includes Daya’s daughter-in-law Lata (Geetanjali Kulkarni) and Daya’s grand-daughter Sunita (Palomi Ghosh), Daya and Rajiv, the father-son duo leaves forVaranasi. They finally check in at an aptly named hotel called Mukti Bhawan or Hotel Salvation; where numerous people from all across India come and wait for their death, a tradition to achieve Moksha!
Director Shubhashish Bhutiani, who has also written the script along with Asad Hussain, has ingeniously explored the intricacy of human emotions on the face of death in his film. The script, the situations, the dialogues, the relations are simply subtle yet so profound!
UNESCO jury has already awarded the XXIIIrd prix “Enrico Fulchignoni” to the young debutant director and at the Venice Film Festival, the world premier of Mukti Bhawan, the filmwas cherished by the audience with a stupendous standing ovation after the screening!
Then again, the film is specially blessed with actors who are of such supreme control of their skills.
Adil Hussain, just within a decade have become one of the finest actors of our country, made his presence felt in acclaimed movies like English Vinglish, Life of Pi, Parched, Sunrise; but in this particular film his performance excels like never before. No wonder he won a Special Mention from the National Award Jury this year!
And of course, the veteran TV and theatre actor Lalit Behl, this being his second film (after Titli) has played his pivotal part with such immense commitment, so brilliantly natural and believable!
Up above the sky so high, invisible to the world, you cry, whisper and sigh!
My Ratings: 4.1/5
When was the last time you were in a spot where there was no food and water – like literally – ultimate survival crisis – and you have to hunt animals for food and go ‘Morarji-Desai’ for your drink?
I know what you will say – that such extreme situations are only for the celluloid; like the shipwrecked Tom Hanks inCast Away, marooned in an island with no company other than the mute round-faced Wilson; then there was this young James Franco who accidentally put his leg in-between some boulders and sat stuck alone for 127 Hours. I think WALL·E also did a decent job, forlorned up in the space – but then, he didn’t get much hungry or thirsty, if you know what I mean!
Now what if someone gets ‘trapped’ in an apartment, an ordinary flat in a multystored and otherwise uninhabited building, right in the middle of the concrete urban jungle (say around Mumbai’s Prabhadevi area); cooped up for days, without food, water, phone or electricity, entirely cut off from the outer world – with a birds-eye view of the entire city but still invisible to everyone!
This is exactly what happened to Shaurya (Rajkummar Rao), when he by a twist of fate gets locked inside an apartment in a high-rise, without any hope of ever getting rescued!
And the most scary part in the film comes from the sensation that it can actually happen to any of us so called ‘city-people’ out here!
National Award winning actor Rajkummar Rao was outstanding in the film. The combination of Rao’s boy-next-door looks and his brilliant portrayal of someone desperate for survival is what makes the film so real.
And for director Mr.Motwane, with only one character to tell his story, that too pinned in one location, he still managed to successfully grasp the attention of the audience till the very end!
Another very interesting human psychology portrayed in the film is that, when someone is in the brink of possible extinction, it is the general human tendency to discover an unfamiliar longing for some of the most banal things in their lives.
For example in the film, Shaurya trapped for days, often hallucinating from stress and malnourishment, never desired or yearned for anything particularly unique or remarkable. Rather he wished to relive those regular day to day events; his journey to the office in those overcrowded Mumbai local trains packed with sweaty co-passengers, those crammed up buses with irritating conductors, a simple plate of pav-bhaji with a dash of butter on top – in the time of an inevitable catastrophe the most ordinary things from our life become so special and desirable!
Geetanjali Thapa, in the short role as the love of Shaurya’s life was commendable, though honestly I thought her character wasn’t really required in the film other than the simple incentive for Shaurya to hunt for a place.
‘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?
The film manifests some top notch performances specially by Andrew Garfield who is undoubtedly the most promising young actor of recent times!