Cyrano de Bergerac: Moving

Cyrano de Bergerac

Year: 1990

Writer: Jean-Claude Carrière, Jean-Paul Rappeneau

Director: Jean-Paul Rappeneau

Length: 137 mins

Category: Drama

Rating: 4 out of 5

Beautiful French movie about a man in love who is unable to express it through his life since he thinks he’s ugly. Cyrano, a poet, soldier and a man highly accomplished in many things has an unusually long nose. He is in love with his cousin. Just when he musters courage to tell her, she seeks his help to get in touch with a handsome man in his company. Christian, though handsome, does not have a way with words. Cyrano helps him by writing his letters and Roxanne starts loving the words more than Christian’s looks. Cyrano finally admits that it was he who wrote those letters 14 years after Christian dies in a war.

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The movie is full of beautiful poems and great acting by Gerard Depardieu, Anne Brochet and others in the compnay. Every character in the movie is worth cherishing, a rare accomplishment for a movie with so many. Parts of it though is Bollywoodish with high strung drama.

To end this brief review, the end was the most disappointing factor about the movie. By making it a little too long and full of dialogues, the sting was taken away from the movie. If it were only a little different, I would have walked away from the movie feeling utterly lonely and sad in sympathy for Cyrano de Bergerac.

No Man’s land by Tanovic: Gripping

No Man’s Land

Year: 2001

Writer: Danis Tanovic

Director: Danis Tanovic

Category: Drama

Rating: 4 out of 5

Three wounded soldiers Ciki, Cera (Bosnians) and Nino (Serbian) get caught in a trench in the no man’s land. Cera is lying on a mine that would burst if he moves. There is tension as well as friendship between the three. Nino went to school with Ciki’s ex-girlfriend. They both are trapped in a deadly situation that they want to escape from. But they blame their predicament on each other, keeping them suspicious and leading to periodic breakout of fights between them. The entire war moves metaphorically into the trench

Three bored French soldiers try to rescue them but face stumbling blocks from the UN that prefers to ‘distribute 120 grams of food’ to people than to intervene militarily. Later they are forced to respond as the story goes into the American media. The French team returns with a German bomb disposal expert. A large crew of Western media people follow them and they are joined by the English speaking chief from the UN. And in one symbolic moment, the tragedy of the war between Bosnians and Serbians is put in its international context beautifully by the first time director – Danis Tanovic.

Danis Tanovic’s script and directorial style are the movies strong points. The plot was certainly powerful, but all too often we see directors spoiling a great story by doing too much. Most importantly, they have managed to avoid high-sentimentality, histrionics or powerful speeches by the actors. Reflecting this he said in an interview, “I didn’t want to make another film where you’re just going to blow 200 young soldiers away in the first twelve minutes”. Danis had a powerful story to say, and he did it in style. It’s one movie that a movie lover SHOULD try.

Three bored French soldiers try to rescue them but face stumbling blocks from the UN that prefers to ‘distribute 120 grams of food’ to people than to intervene militarily. Later they are forced to respond as the story goes into the American media. The French team returns with a German bomb disposal expert. A large crew of Western media people follow them and they are joined by the English speaking chief from the UN. And in one symbolic moment, the tragedy of the war between Bosnians and Serbians is put in its international context beautifully by the first time director – Danis Tanovic.

Danis Tanovic’s script and directorial style are the movies strong points. The plot was certainly powerful, but all too often we see directors spoiling a great story by doing too much. Most importantly, they have managed to avoid high-sentimentality, histrionics or powerful speeches by the actors. Reflecting this he said in an <a href=”http://www.iofilm.co.uk/feats/interviews/d/danis_tanovic.shtml” target=”_new”>interview</a>, “I didn’t want to make another film where you’re just going to blow 200 young soldiers away in the first twelve minutes”. Danis had a powerful story to say, and he did it in style. It’s one movie that a movie lover SHOULD try. // –>

Children in Mani Ratnam movies

This post is in reaction to a friend’s post about Mani Ratnam’s brilliance when it comes to handling children.  Citing Kannathil Muthamittal and Anjali he says,

The master director’s known for his ability to extract the best from the kids – Anjali had proved that way back in eighties. But, then “Kannathil Muthamittal” truly showed how Mani Ratnam can ellicit complex adult emotions from a child.

I think his choice of movies could not have been worse.  For MR kids are only noisy, perpetually-running, yelling, brats. I sometimes feel that he merely takes a an adult character, adds a lot of yelling and running to it and makes a child act that role.  When it comes to children, I think there’s nothing to beat the Iranians.  They have the ability to craft child-like characters and get the best of the child actors.

Review of Bolivian “American Visa” as I wait for mine!

American Visa

IMDB

Year: 2005

Director: Juan Carlos Valdivia

Category: Foreign

Rating: 3 out of 5

What better movie could I review waiting outside the US Consulate for an American visa?

This satirical comedy is about Mario’s dreams to join his son for a comfortable life in the United States. After elaborate preparations, his visa to the US is denied. He then tries to commit a robbery to gather the money to get a visa from the black market. In the meanwhile, he meets a philosophically inclined prostitute who loves Bolivia and finds heaven where she is. Most of the movie deals with her dialogue with Mario: a dialogue between different dreams.

Unlike movies from other parts of the world (especially Hollywood), Latin American movies are something that I am able to connect with immediately as an Indian. The sets, stories, aspirations, and a lot else are very similar to what I find at home. Concerned about a potential traffic jam, I have reached the US Consulate one hour before my interview. As I wait for my turn for the US Visa right in front of the US Consulate, I am reminded of this beautiful Bolivian movie I watched in New York.

I am sitting now in a browsing center opposite the US Consulate at Madras, watching a long line of nervous people in the Madras heat. As I wait my turn, I see people holding their aspirations in their plastic folders, refusing to move out of the hot sun even if their interview appointment is a long time away. Some are praying and a few others are engaged in a nervous conversation. One girl is so prepared that coach has even given her a layout of the US Consulate specially marking where the restrooms are! I guess such detailed preparation is making her more nervous than calming. The debate between life in India and the US Visa is raging daily among families here. Like in the Bolivian movie, where there is a chance, the US visa seems to win the day.

Shot in beautiful Bolivia with Mexican stars, the movie may be foreign to many of us in India and elsewhere…but its theme is right from our neighborhood.

This satirical comedy is about Mario’s dreams to join his son for a comfortable life in the United States. After elaborate preparations, his visa to the US is denied. He then tries to commit a robbery to gather the money to get a visa from the black market. In the meanwhile, he meets a philosophically inclined prostitute who loves Bolivia and finds heaven where she is. Most of the movie deals with her dialogue with Mario: a dialogue between different dreams.

Unlike movies from other parts of the world (especially Hollywood), Latin American movies are something that I am able to connect with immediately as an Indian. The sets, stories, aspirations, and a lot else are very similar to what I find at home. Concerned about a potential traffic jam, I have reached the US Consulate one hour before my interview. As I wait for my turn for the US Visa right in front of the US Consulate, I am reminded of this beautiful Bolivian movie I watched in New York.

I am sitting now in a browsing center opposite the US Consulate at Madras, watching a long line of nervous people in the Madras heat. As I wait my turn, I see people holding their aspirations in their plastic folders, refusing to move out of the hot sun even if their interview appointment is a long time away. Some are praying and a few others are engaged in a nervous conversation. One girl is so prepared that coach has even given her a layout of the US Consulate specially marking where the restrooms are! I guess such detailed preparation is making her more nervous than calming. The debate between life in India and the US Visa is raging daily among families here. Like in the Bolivian movie, where there is a chance, the US visa seems to win the day.

Shot in beautiful Bolivia with Mexican stars, the movie may be foreign to many of us in India and elsewhere…but its theme is right from our neighborhood. // –>

Mozhi with Jyothika: Fantastic Tamil movie

Mozhi

Year: 2007

Writer: Radha Mohan

Director: Radha Mohan

Length: 152

Category: Drama

Rating: 4 out of 5

Entertainment with purpose – to the hilt

Mozhi is one of the finest Tamil movies to come in this decade. It’s worth watching, and watching again. Karthik (played by Prithviraj) falls in love with Archana (Jyothika) by just seeing her in action. He learns soon that she is hearing and speech disabled. In a bid to win her love, he accosts her. As they become friends he grows to admire her for growing beyond her disabilities into a confident person. A rift develops between them when Archana realizes that Karthik thinks of her ‘nature’ as a ‘disability’. Once they get over it Karthik proposes marriage and it’s time for Archana to confront her insecurities…

In a rare departure, this Tamil movie puts a disabled character at the centre of the plot. It does not bother Archana that she does not speak or hear. But for a small part, the movie does not show her as someone disserving of pity, in fact she is confident, talented and comfortable with herself. As the theme song puts it, “Mauname unnidam antha mounam thane azhagu” (Oh silent one, silence is beautiful in you), emphasis is laid on accepting disabled people as they are.

This was Jyothika’s last movie before her marriage and there could have been no better way to say (a brief?) farewell to the screen. Prakash Raj plays Prithvi Raj’s friend in a neatly crafted character. He brings to the screen a fine brand of humour. Swarnamalaya plays a fine accompanying role. The movie abounds with other nicely fitting characters, all of whom live in an apartment complex.

Mozhi is one of the finest Tamil movies to come in this decade. It’s worth watching, and watching again. Karthik (played by Prithviraj) falls in love with Archana (Jyothika) by just seeing her in action. He learns soon that she is hearing and speech disabled. In a bid to win her love, he accosts her. As they become friends he grows to admire her for growing beyond her disabilities into a confident person. A rift develops between them when Archana realizes that Karthik thinks of her ‘nature’ as a ‘disability’. Once they get over it Karthik proposes marriage and it’s time for Archana to confront her insecurities…

In a rare departure, this Tamil movie puts a disabled character at the centre of the plot. It does not bother Archana that she does not speak or hear. But for a small part, the movie does not show her as someone disserving of pity, in fact she is confident, talented and comfortable with herself. As the theme song puts it, “Mauname unnidam antha mounam thane azhagu” (Oh silent one, silence is beautiful in you), emphasis is laid on accepting disabled people as they are.

This was Jyothika’s last movie before her marriage and there could have been no better way to say (a brief?) farewell to the screen. Prakash Raj plays Prithvi Raj’s friend in a neatly crafted character. He brings to the screen a fine brand of humour. Swarnamalaya plays a fine accompanying role. The movie abounds with other nicely fitting characters, all of whom live in an apartment complex. // –>

Introdução aos cinema Indiano

O India produz mais filmes que todos outros país do mundo…

…Muito mais. Tal vez tu sei que há muitas linguas na India. Muitos disso tem um grande indústria do cinema. O muito famoso é o indústria do Bombay chamo “Bollywood”. Muitos estrangeiros pensem que só Bollywood produz filmes na India; mas ha muitos outros centros do produção. O grande centro é Madras no sul do India. Também há Hyderabad, Calcutta, Kerala e outros centros.

Tal vez, o filmes do Bengal são o mais famoso depois que o Bollywood. Begal é famoso para produzir os filmes artísticas e seu director Satyajit Ray recebida o Oscar para “lifetime achievement”. Seus filmes com o Pather Panchali, os Appu trilogia recebem acclaim crítico. O meu favorito é Agantuk.

Normalmente os filmes Indianos tem um combinação do musico, dança, comedia, alguns combates, sexo, etc. Devido da issos elles são chamados “masala” i.e. um combinação dos especiarias. O maior parte do musico na India é produzido nas cinemas. Enquanto esta é a norma, alguns filmes são differentes.

Dilwala dulhania le jayenge, Dil chata hai, Sholay, Lage raho munna bhai e Gol mal são alguns filmes famosos em Hindi. Issos são os filmes-masala. Eu recomendo o Anbe Sivam (o amor é o deus, em Tamil), Hazaron Kwaishein Aisi (um mil sonhos com isso, em Hindi), Tare Zamin Par (Estrelas na terra, em Hindi), Hey Ram (uma cinema sobre o partição do India e um pouco sobre o Gandhi), Shwaas (um filme muito excelente em Marathi), Mrs. and Mr. Iyer (não perda isso), Ondanodo Kalladhalli (em Kannada), Appu triologia (3 cinemas com o Appu em Bengali), Sangara Paranam (em Telungu) são alguns que são aclamados pela crítica e também interessante.

Para saber mais, clique aqui

Developments in Hindi cinema: Will the big kill the good?

As big budget movies with huge marketing costs become popular and movie halls change, will the big drive out the small?

Diwali is a time for new movies in India.  Two big budget movies this time decided to go for huge spending on marketing.  OSO and Sawariya together spent over Rs. 10 crores on marketing, swamping the media.  Money was clearly spent on public relations rather than overt advertisements.  “King Khan” was all over the place: watching cricket, dancing with cricket stars, doing shows, and being in any place that attracts public attention.  Even if OSO were not mentioned overtly in some of these, his mere presence brings advertisement to the movie.

PR worked wonders for these movies and the Hindi movie industry this diwali was reduced to “Sawariya Vs. OSO”.  A series of glittery events were organised in the run up to the two releases, and the two producers did everything to make the public forget that other movies are in the fray – effectively.  All English news channels carried an overdose of these and Headlines Today sold themselves out to this PR ploy. The growing Americanisation of Indian movie market looks terrible for the future of good Indian movies.  Not surprisingly, a Hollywood company produced Sawariya.

There are other signs of Americanisation of Indian movie industry that are worrying.  Small theatres with reasonable pricing are now being replaced by “multiplexes” that are a lot costlier.  Some movie chains are fast coming up.  When they gain market power, they are likely to insist on movies that spend big on advertising – reducing the room for small budget movies even more.  It is said that with the evolution of such theatres in the US, viewership of foreign movies reduced dramatically – simply because many of these could not afford the ad budgets and thus did not find a space in “happening” movie halls.

In a recent talk at Madras, Amol Palekar rued how Hindi cinema is going the Hollywood way – big in technique and empty in content.  Supporters say that such movies reflect demand. What they fail to ask is, what does demand reflect?  It is undeniable that huge spending and visibility that these movies generate keep these movies in public consciousness.  They shut out information about smaller movies – that may sometimes be better.  Good ideas for small budget movies will find fewer takers since ‘smallness’ itself becomes a market risk, and bigger a movie gets the more formulaic it will become.  Movies with established stars will swamp the media with growing PR touch, making small budget less known actors a risky business.

These trends are not new but are bound to become more acute with the growing dominance of electronic media and public relations.  With Hindi movies getting worse, I guess I will have to depend on other regional movies in India – and perhaps look to Iran to produce good movies.