My Favorites Of Alfred Hitchcock !! (10 + 1)

Best of Alfred Hitchcock.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Hitchcock is the only director whose two films ‘Rebecca’ and ‘Foreign Correspondent’ were both nominated in the same year (1940) for the Oscars ‘Best Film’ category  – and of course ‘Rebecca’ won the award!

He himself at the 1967 Oscars delivered the shortest speech in the oscar history – he only said ‘Thank you’!

Directed more than 50 feature films, he is renowned as the ‘The Master of Suspense’.

Personally i am a huge fan and yes this time i have managed to list my favorites of Alfred Hitchcock films. If you enjoy murder-mystrey and thrillers – well, just stick to this list.

10. North by North West (1959)

north by northwest_poster

The ‘baap’ of all thrillers; speed, pace, tension gets a new meaning – a Hitchcock classic in every sense.

Cary Grant playing an advertising man is mistakenly kidnapped and framed for murder which he didn’t commit.

Before watching this film people had no clue that the crop-dusters in the lonely highways can be so effectively dangerous .

9. Strangers on a train (1951)

strangers on a train posterTwo complete strangers meet on a train and they soon cook up an unique idea to help each other by offering to – murder.

Crazy as it sounds the film is a stunner – brilliant performances, superb camera and the famous uneasy suspense for which Hitchcock is so renowned of.

Probably the most sinister plot ever filmed and made into such a successful thriller. Do watch the original classic version.


8. The Birds (1963)
The birds posterWhat happens if one fine morning the birds plan an attack on us?

They fly in flocks and strike viciously with the sole intent to kill the vulnerable humans.

A nightmare that Hitchcock managed to capture successfully and make a spine chilling film out of it. Scary is a too little word to define the experience of watching this classic.


7. The Lady Vanishes (1938)

the lady vanishes posterOne of Hitchcock’s best early works – a perfect mystery blended with a touch of romance in it.

An ordinary train journey where an old lady simply vanishes from her seat. The girl who happens to notice this strange disappearance finds it difficult to convince others – it seems  like she is the only one who misses the old woman. Mystery lovers – don’t miss it.


6. Psycho (1960)

pyscho poster The film Hitchcock is best known for – an ultimate psychotic story of a lonely man and his commanding mother.

Murder gets a new definition when you enter the insane world of Norman Bates – the frail looking guy who runs a roadside motel and  stuffs birds for a hobby.

If you haven’t seen this film yet – what can i say – go watch it man.

5. Rear Window (1954)

rear window posterVoyeurism at it’s best – a leg broken James Stewart plays the peeping tom watching his neighbors through his rear window.

An innocent habit which comes with it’s own side effects.

Pretty soon he watches something that he shouldn’t have and gets involved in a murder mystery which ends in a tense dramatic way that only Hitchcock can give justice to.

4. Vertigo (1958)

vertigo posterJames Stewart  joined by the mysterious Kim Novak gives (probably) his best performance in this mind boggling drama -according to me the most beautifully shot Hitchcock film ever.

Vertigo as the name suggests is the fear of heights and such a phobia can dangerously handicap a person from saving another’s life. Hmmm ….

A film with a perfect twist in the tail.

3. Rebecca (1940)

rebecca poster The only Hitchcock film that won an oscar – a true deserving master piece indeed.

The black and white elegance of the film comes out brilliantly through the awesome performances of Joan Fontaine and Judith Anderson.

Splendid story telling and the haunting scores by Franz Waxman make it all the more a chilling experience.  

2. Notorious (1946)

notorious poster Suspense and tension levels shoot up as Carry Grant and Ingrid Bergman teams up in a dangerous spy game in this Hitchcock flick.

Heart racing tense sequences masterfully constructed with the sole intension to playfully torture the audience.

Many spy films are made but this one  deserves the recognition it gets. Something special.

1. Lifeboat (1944)

lifeboat posterOne of the most underrated Hitchcock films ever – the whole film is masterfully shot inside a lifeboat (probably the smallest location ever used).

Survivors from a ship wreck (torpedoed) clusters in a lifeboat and it is the story of their survival.

A unique tale of human behavior, conflicting characters and their relations in the time of crisis.

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

+1. Rope (1948)

Rope-poster Imagine the trill of a perfect murder!

The body is kept inside a table and food is kept on top of it – and served to the victims parents and fiance.

A party where the only missing person is dead. Entirely filmed in-studio this one is shot in total ten long takes!

Hitchcock’s first color film and of course a must watch.

Revolver Rani (2014)

My rating – 2/5

Kangana’s last release ‘Queen’ has triggered my expectations to such a high that I was eagerly waiting to see my favorite actress in her new avatar – as the dynamic ‘Revolver Rani’.

But this time I am disappointed.

Disappointed not entirely from Kangana’s acting perspective – though i felt she was a little over-the-top a couple of times but still she did a decent job and pretty well morphed herself as the new-age ‘Phulan Devi’.

In fact most of the actors have given good performances but regrettably the story didn’t have the strength to shoulder these accomplishments.

‘Revolver Rani’ is supposed to be a dark comedy and Kangana Ranaut (whose skin color is made dark enough to suit her role) is the badass queen of this dark, merciless world.

Well I guess that was the general idea but unfortunately it didn’t work out in the favor of the audience.


Chambal the ever-sentimental place for the dacoits (who have now turned into politicians) is used as the backdrop for this gritty, violent drama.

On one side we have Alka Singh (Kangana as Revolver Rani) and her mentor Bali Mama (Piyush Mishra) and on the rival side we have Udaybhan Tomar (very well enacted by Zakir Hussain) leading the blood-thirsty Tomar family.

And of course how can we forget the ‘toy boy’, Alka’s one and only love Rohan Mehra (Vir Das) who though treated as a comic relief at the beginning evolves as the main player who decides Revolver Rani’s fate at the end of the film. (I think for this role a better actor should have been considered).

Comic only in bits and pieces the film especially after interval looses its focus.

So many characters, each having their own dreams, often getting unnecessarily more importance than the main character; well in a nutshell – too many stories spoiled the plot.

The film in its desperate attempt to join the ‘B-grade cinema’ club patronizes a never-ending chain of action sequences, sometimes unapologetically raw and over dramatic.

These action scenes are often slow-motioned and pumped up by loud background music but the effect is not always pleasurable. I personally think we have seen hundred times better-inspired versions of Tarantino and Scorsese in Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur saga.


Sai Kabir, the first time director undoubtedly tried his best to come up with something refreshing, a madcap film with an unusual story line. I must say he chose a daring script for his first venture.

To be honest the possibility of a sequel scares me but I love to think positive.

This one is only recommended for Kangana Ranaut fans who after watching her wearing Italian fashioned spiky bras should feel the entire film experience worth it.


2 States (2014)

My rating – 3/5

2 States is a film that is stretched too long but still mostly entertaining in its own way.

The topic of ‘cultural diversity’ in India is kind of exotic to read in our history books but when two such culturally diverse families try to get along together for their children’s marriage sake – the outcome is so interesting (and so non-exotic) that one can write a book on it and then even make a film out of it.

No doubt the basic concept is amusingly predictable but the main USP of the film 2 states is its fresh lead-casting duo – Arjun Kapoor (Krish Malhotra – the Punjabi munda) and Alia Bhatt (Ananya Swaminathan – the Tamil chori).

Yes, both the actors have done a good job, especially Alia who being out of her comfort zone (as she plays the Tamil girl) still manages to give a very natural performance.

2 States is adopted from Chetan Bhagat’s autobiographical bestseller novel (of the same name) … … produced by Karan Johar and Sajid Nadiadwala … … powered by the music of Shankar Ehsaan Loy … … and of course beautifully shot by Binod Pradhan.

First time director Abhishek Varman has done a great job, he has kept it simple yet entertaining.

The first half of 2 States when Arjun and Alia meet up and fall for each other is very well shot – their onscreen chemistry is so crisp and fresh. They are projected as the young and courageous generation who kisses and have pre-marital sex with much ease – the ultimate romantic lovers who keep telling each other ‘I love you’. The anticipation of a perfect rom-com builds up.

But then the stereotype, over-the-top traditional parents join the party or rather spoil the party.

In one hand we have the inevitably caricatured Tamil parents (Revathy and Shivkumar) who doesn’t smile, doesn’t like furniture but only have an affinity for Carnatic music, coffee and Kanjeevaram.

On the other hand the loud Punjabi family who unapologetically supports the custom of taking dowry – the protective mom (Amrita Singh) who at times gets unnecessarily rude with her in-laws and of-course the drunk, ill-tempered father (who else but Ronit Roy) who doesn’t get along with anybody, especially with his son.

Though both the families are presented as educated and of a certain social class their illogical cultural barriers often seemed inappropriate and forceful. In the twenty-first century one should stretch the envelop of generation gap wisely to make it believable.

(I feel in the film ‘Vicky Donor’ such culture clash was shown in a more rational way but again the focus of that film was completely different from this one.)

Overall 2 States is a fun film to watch.

If you are a fan of either Arjun Kapoor or Alia Bhatt surely go for it. If not then also no harm in experiencing a pure Indian love story.


Blue is the warmest color (2013).

Blue is the warmest color review.

My ratings – 4.6/5

The prime objective to make a film is to entertain the audience but in the process of doing so most of the films/filmmakers loose their sincerity. They desperately attempt to be the viewer’s wish list, too eager to please them and lure them to the cinema halls.

blue-is-the-warmest-color-poster1But fortunately a few films are still made just for the sake of creating good cinema. They have a genuine quality in them, a certain truthfulness that invariably touches the audience – Blue is the warmest color is one such rare gem.

Loosely based on Julie Maroh’s 2010 graphic novel, Blue Angel, the film won the Palme d’Or, the highest honor awarded at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Generally the award is given only to the director of the film but in 2013 (for the first time ever in the history of Cannes Film Festival) as decided by the jury and it’s president Steven Spielberg, the award was given both to the director (Abdellatif Kechiche) as well as to the two lead actresses (Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos).

blue-is-the-warmest-color-poster3This surely gives you a hint regarding the quality of performance you are to witness in this film – watching actors who don’t seem to be acting is always a special treat.

A three-hour package of emotions, a romantic love story taken to a different height with superlative storytelling, awesome direction and absolute brilliant performances.

It’s all about a young girl Adèle, a confused teenager searching for love and eventually ends up exploring her sexuality. The majority of the film deals with Adèle’s relationship with Emma, an erotic lesbian courtship – romantic, intense, sensual and of course stung by infidelity and jealousy.

blue-is-the-warmest-color-poster2Very ‘French’ when it comes to the sexual content; Blue is the warmest color has an overdose of lesbian lovemaking sequences but in the end it all balances out perfectly for the film.

The director Abdellatif Kechiche is not only successful in showing the complexity of finding one’s sexual identity but also he effectively points out the difference in acceptance of homosexuality in different social classes.

For instance Emma’s family who belongs to a higher social status than Adèle’s, freely accepts their same-sex relationship. But on the other hand Emma has to lie to Adèle’s parents by saying that she has a boyfriend just to make their friendship acceptable for the elderly middle class couple.

blue-is-the-warmest-color-posterAs the name suggests the color ‘blue’ is used extensively in the film, often too visually on the face as the blue color of Emma’s hair in the entire first half of the film. May be Emma’s blue hair represented their intensity of love for each other in a symbolic way – as in the second half Emma’s hair color fades out along with their passionate relationship.

According to some people Blue is the warmest color is all about a struggle to find ones sexuality, some say it’s a take on homosexual relations but for me the film is primarily about love. It’s simply about the quest of finding true love and then also going through the pain of loosing it.

Overall a rare so-called perfect film. A must watch.

Best fictional films about writers

Best fictional films about writers.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Don’t you think the ‘writers’ are a strange breed of people?

They are supposed to be imaginative, curious and passionate about their work. Well, thats the romantic side. But often their constant struggle to be original, their possessive nature, their creative vulnerability lead them to unpredictable alleys.

I have managed to put up a list of my all time favorite films where the protagonist writes for a living – films where sometimes the writer is in danger and other times he IS the danger.

And the list begins.

10. Secret Window (2004)

Secret Window

A perfect blend of Stephen KingDavid Koepp + Johnny Depp and the result is a tangy physiological thriller.

The story of a lone writer who is unexpectedly threatened and accused of plagiarism by a complete stranger.

If you are a Johnny Depp fan and you like mystery it’s surely your cup of tea.

9. The Ghost aka The Ghost Writer (2010)

The Ghost Writer

Tension, suspense, thrill, excitement – these words are made to define this film.

When a ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) takes up a new job for a former politician (Pierce Brosnan), he unknowingly puts his life in danger. An edgy script – one of my personal favorite.

For Roman Polanski fans this is a special treat.

8. Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Stranger Than Fiction

What if you realize one fine morning that you are not in control of your life – that you exist only in somebody’s imagination, in someone’s writings?

Directed by Marc Forster, Will Ferrell in his own comic way experience this scary concept. Superb performance.

One of the most innovative story told in style.

7. Wonder Boys (2000)

Wonder Boys

An interesting star cast – Michael Douglas at his best, Tobey Maguire young n talented and Robert Downey Jr. joins in.

Directed by Curtis Hanson, this is a film about writers and their careers; the tormented souls desperate to create something unique.

A perfect drama with a comic touch – very entertaining and well performed.

6. Barton Fink (1991)

Barton Fink

This time the Coen brothers (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen) create a dark world where a writer in a hotel room struggles in his quest to write about ‘the common man’.

The crisp dialogues, the eerie look and feel of the film, the brilliant acting – it’s a complete package.

Though often considered too glum and black for some people’s taste but for me this film is a superb satire.

5. Midnight in Paris (2011)

Midnight in Paris

At midnight Paris becomes a magical place for a writer who travels back in time and meet the great artists of all times (all his inspirations).

A refreshing comedy by Woody Allen and a crackling performance by Owen Wilson – the result is a mystically charming film.

The film radiates the director’s love for Paris.

4. The Squid and the Whale (2005)

The squid and the whale

Dealing with parents divorce is always tough, specially when both of them are writers and pretty self centered in nature.

This is a perfect family drama – often funny in a cruel way; the story of two young boys who try to cope up with the tension in between their parents.

Directed by Noah Baumbachthe film is actually much more interesting than it’s name suggests.

3. Deathtrap (1982)


This is a film that will startle you; the more you will try to predict what is next, the more you will be surprised.

A writer with his deadly plans and a sinister collection of weapons –Michael Caine at his best.

Sidney Lumet (one of my all time favorite director) maliciously reveals a trap that surely leads to death. It’s a dangerous game but you never know who is the winner till the end of the film.

2. Adaptation. (2002)


One of Nicolas Cage‘s best performance (that too a double role) and also one of Spike Jonze‘s best film till date.

The famous scriptwriter Charlie Kaufman shows his brilliance once again.

Though most people (including me) has a problem with the ending of this film but still it will remain one of my all time favorite.

1. Ruby Sparks (2012)

Ruby sparks

Directed by Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, the brilliance of this film is that it cannot be explained unless you watch it.

The concept of finding the girl of your dreams is turned upside down into a whole new dimension.

What if you want to play God and you are given the control to manipulate people whom you love? Think twice before you wish.


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

+1. Misery (1990)

MiseryWriters always like to communicate with their fans. And specially if one claims to be his ‘no 1 fan’ and especially if that person saves the writer’s life. Right?

Wrong in this particular case.

Adopted from Stephen King‘s novel and directed by Rob Reiner this film is one twisted tale of a writer (James Caanand his fan (Kathy Bates, who won the Oscar as the Best actress in the leading role that year). 

Jal (2014)

My rating – 2.5/5

Lets start by appreciating the film Jal – and probably the ONLY way to do it is by praising its visual quality.

The desert used as the backdrop, most of the visuals in Jal are truly artistic and well choreographed. The beautiful wide shots of Flamingos, the swift diagonal movements of the camera tracking the camel runs, the raw beauty of the village girls, the thirst of the dry arid grounds – cinematographer Sunita Radia did an excellent job.


Now before the praises dry out like the water in the film let me assure you that the basic concept of the film is also worth mentioning.

Rann of Kutch is the place where people as well as Flamingos die every year due to the scarcity of sweet water. When a team of foreigners comes to save the dying Flamingo chicks the film raises the valid question of who will save the thirsty people – the villagers of that region?

Bakka (Purab kholi) is renowned in his village as the water-God as he has the ability to predict the spot where water can be found (after lot of digging of course). Now the film is about the ‘karnamas’ of Bakka – his success, his love, his sex life, his friendship and his failure. How long can he keep finding water? Even if he can will it save his pregnant wife’s life?


The prime enemies of this film are poor editing and lack of efficient dialogues (probably also the lack of capability to deliver dialogues effectively).

One must understand that excessive use of black-dissolves as transitions can be equally harmful for your film and as well as for our eyes.

Girish Malik, the debutant director offers you a perfect rural cocktail – comic sequences, gritty action, dramatic thrill, desi love story, foreign skin show, enough sexual content – all punched in together. But his heavy dependence on visuals without the support of a crisp story line and meaningful edit has let him down.

To finish on a good note Sonu Nigam and Bickram Ghosh did a splendid job as music composers. And often Shubha Mudgal’s deep voice becomes your best friend in the darkness of the cinema hall.

Just for the sake of the stunning visuals I will say it’s a one-time watch but again at your own risk.

Noah (2014)

Requiem of a dream, Wrestler, Black Swan – in most of Darren Aronofsky’s films the protagonist goes through a nerve wrecking psychological trip where lines tend to blur in between sanity and insanity. Oh – and they must have difficult relationships with their family members.

His latest film Noah is no exception.

A Paramount Pictures presentation, the mega budget film Noah is certainly a visual treat where often the dream sequences are more interesting than the real ones, and the beliefs of individual characters get more prominence than the overall theme.

Ok, I hope we all are familiar of the Biblical story of Noah – the ‘chosen one’ who followed God’s orders, built a boat (ark) and smuggled a wide range of species (all in couples) before God flooded everything else out of existence. (It’s an interesting fact that similar stories exist in both Islam and Hinduism as well).

Now the film ‘Noah’ does respect this basic Biblical story line but … but …

The director Aronofsky (who claims to be an atheist) gallantly declared that his film is “the least Biblical Biblical film” of all times.

In the film the word ‘creator’ is used instead of ‘God’ to give it an universal appeal and it has many characters and sequences which are not to be found anywhere in the Bible. As a result there were/are enough controversies and debates on such deliberate diversions from the religious text.

But for me it’s ultimately a cinema – a medium of story telling with the sole purpose of entertaining us. We should watch it only as a film and nothing else.

And thus the real question arises – is Noah entertaining enough?

I feel that the film looses its intensity as it tries to tell too many stories at the same time; massively depending on visual effects Noah is entertaining only in bits and pieces.

Russell Crowe’s performance surely gives a new dimension to this well built, crew cut, new-age Noah, but still in some ways we loose focus on him as other characters and their stories constantly distract us.

The character of Noah is portrayed as a psychologically disturbed ecologist who cares only about his dreams (the orders from the creator) to establish an eco-friendly planet devoid of all sins (no sinner no sins theory).

In order to serve his creator and to attain the desired goal Noah can go to any extremes; he kills thousands of people who according to his vision seem unworthy of a new beginning. Noah even decides to kill his own family members to underline his point of eradicating potential sinners. He eventually fights a battle against his own will to survive and being loved again.

The secondary characters are there just to fulfill their specific purposes in the film.

Anthony Hopkins becomes the old, wise grandfather clock (a magician) in love with berries. Ray Winston plays ‘Tubal-cain’, the alter ego of Noah (probably the only interesting character) who in order to justify his superiority over other animals eats away quite a few species to extinction. Emma Watson fulfills her purpose by delivering twins (though her timing seems to upset Noah). And Jennifer Connelly plays the role of the dutiful, teary-eyed, supportive wife.

The other characters (the battalion of Noah’s sons) along with huge, ugly rock figures called the ‘watchers’ are there to divert your mind from the main plot (the effect isn’t always charming).

If you are a die-hard Russell Crowe fan – go for it.

And be prepared to experience a completely twisted version of the good old story of the old man with a long white beard; like it or not its time for the emergence of the new age Noah with his own dark tale of the deluge.