{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Monday, January 29, 2007

Films this Weekend.

I caught a mild fever midway this long weekend and utilized some of it to see films. Here is the list in chronological order.

Guru: Nothing much to appreciate, except Vidya Balan's death, it is the only high point of the film, sort of pulled loose strings together for a while. Also, Mithun Chakraborty is very good and his sincere contempt for God is only instance I saw in recent Hindi films, where a character shows it - without any guilt, doesn't succumb till end, and is not punished for it.

Salaam-e-Ishq : Nothing to talk about, except that its almost four hours long. I liked the last song sung by Kailash Kher. Its goes "Ya rabba, dede koi jaan bhi agar, dilbar pe ho na koi asar", at last they understood.

Innocence: I liked it but I have one problem with it, its ending. [Spoiler Ahead]. There can be two major interpretations of the ending. After the purple-girls are 'released' from the school, one of them, Bianca (Bérangère Haubruge), go and play under a fountain with a young boy, giggling and splashing water on the boy, and scene closes as the film has started, with fluids and bubble. One simple reading is that she is now liberated and freely exploring her sexuality, which she has meticulously endured, saved and cultivated. The second reading might be dark, her release from school may her descent/trapping into much real and horribly concealed world, earlier she was doing one stage show (which is film's metaphor for prostitution), now its a daily ritual, she is now everybody's whore, free but in fierce competition, and constantly and unconsciously catering to the sexual drive of the world. This revelation will be her true loss of innocence. If the film meant the first one, I looks a bit cliched, even if it is an amazing visual treat filled with horror in every corner (even a simple act of young girl playing on a swing creates sense of horror and fear of unknown), acted by an absolutely brilliant cast, especially the girl who plays Iris (Zoé Auclair). If it is of the second kind, it makes lot of sense. But I feel, its a mixture of the two.

L'Atalante : What can I say. Although this film is set on a ship with newly-wed couple, it seems that Jean Vigo has made a character out of Paris, not just a city alluring and cheating at the same time, but an enticing red lipped whore, a far-off love interest. The farewell scene of Juliette (Dita Parlo) is comic but a single look on her mother's face changes it to tragic. The look at the face of the thief is so feeble that we feel more bad for him than for the Juliette, whose purse he stole. Amazing montage of the rage of crowd and cruelty of a big city. The erotic love scene where distant lovers make love, or the underwater sequence (such sequence in 1934, amazing !) where Jean (Jean Dasté) searches for Juliette or the scene where Juliette walks on ship's deck with foggy background. Idiotic Jules (Michel Simon), who involuntary seduces Juliette and the peddler who charms her and the city where she is lost. This is one of those few films where the re-union of the lead pair is both real and also has dusky dream-like quality.

Suzhou River: Good film. Its like Vertigo, set in modern China and the direction is inspired by Wong Kar-wai. The leads are very good especially the actor who plays Mardar (Jia Hongshen). There is one scene where he is drunk and he acts amazingly downbeat. The film looks too adamant to see allegory in the obsessive tale of love, that I think is its weakness.

Zatiachi: The beginning of the film is very cinematic, the way few characters are introduced side by side their past and their skills. The music and fights are very fresh. The sword fights are short and bloody in an alienating and shocking way. A good tap dance finale. A novel Zatiachi.

Ghost World : Good Film. Thora Birch is extremely good as Enid, who hates extroverted, obnoxious, pseudo-bohemian losers. Its heart breaking to see how all those whom Enid thought will never move, move ahead of her. Great dialogues. In one Seymour (played by Steve Buscemi) says "Maybe I don't want to meet someone who shares my interests. I hate my interests." Wow, someone finally said that ! Also Seymour says " I suppose things are better now, but... I don't know. People still hate each other, they just know how to hide it better."

Frozen : They say its about artistic freedom but it is primarily about artistic void. It is said to be based on real events, about the artist, Qi Lei, who is obsessed with death and tries to stage his death through ice burial. With a twist at the end, film mixes art, life, death and 'will to die' nicely. Lead actor ( Xiaoqing Ma) is very good, he says so much without dialogues, he also played the lead in Suzhou River. Not very good, but a nice small film about an artist in trouble.

Gerry: Saw first 45 mins and slept. Its moving to nowhere, and I am liking it.

Will write about some of them in detail later. I am preparing a list of films and film-makers from East Asia and South East Asia, that I need to see. Will share it, once its done.


Chakpak - Salaam e Ishq, Eklavya Gallery said...

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Jabberwock said...

"Maybe I don't want to meet someone who shares my interests. I hate my interests."

That IS cool. Somehow I didn't register this line when I saw the film...

anurag said...

Chakpak ji, thnaks.

Jabberwock, ya, when I heard that line I was like, jumping with joy, finally someone said that :)

Alok said...

reg. innocence it is obviously the second one. I never thought about the first interpretation. the school in a sense is our world itself but as viewed by those girls. the opening scene is like the birth of the girl itself. the underground cave has some sexual undercurrent too. also that she arrives in a coffin is a dark irony or a joke! I think it is simply a parable about how women are forced to define themselves only by their bodies.

Also I think writer/director should have given some background on the two teachers. Why are they so sad, what happened to them? what motivates them to teach the stuff, why one of them is limping... not complete exposition but some hints at least.

Still I was very impressed by it. the german play by frank wedekind is not yet available in english. do you know he wrote the original for the classic german movie pandora's box? it was a common theme in his works. I haven't read anything or seen pandora's box yet. its criterion dvd was released recently.

Alok said...

Women being brought and educated solely for reproductive purposes is also a common theme in many dystopian feminist works. margaret atwood's book the handmaid's tale is quite famous...


the film goes far beyond such thematic and "message" related questions. it is a major technical achievement, the way she creates the mood through heightened sound, expressionist lighting is just amazing specially given that it was her first film as a director.

Vidya said...

Gerry - sounds as annoying as Good Will Hunting.And I deeply resent the fact that Vant Sant cites Tarkovksy and Bela Tarr as "influences".

anurag said...

the school in a sense is our world itself but as viewed by those girls

Although, it seems obvious now, but I fully missed this point.

and I also felt the same about those two young teachers, and those old women too. At the end I felt something is concealed purposefully and artfully, not because it is difficult to tell but to resist any interpretation.

Vidya, Gerry is very different from 'Good Will Hunting' (though, i have seen GWH in passing only), its almost diagonally opposite. try it some time.

tiger said...

I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.