Monday, October 31, 2011

WHERE IS THE FRIEND'S HOME? (1987) - PERSIAN


Simplest of the stories can be told movingly if told with a good heart. 

I never watched an Iran movie and always refrained coz they are extremely sentimental is what I read about them and that kept me away from them. 

My premonition came true with this, it moved me in every way for the kid, when he ran through the streets to find out where his friend his, when he met an old man whom gave him what he should be, when he persuaded his mother to go out and return his friend a book, I can see that but my heart was always in the boy and with the boy, I wanted him to win and return the book.

The opening and ending are strange for me, coz the boy whom I thought is the main hero comes and goes in few frames but the whole story is about his friend but I would say it's this boy, who is seldom seen is the protagonist coz he drove the whole story while his friend was just running for him. 

Technically, this is not great coz camera is simplistic and there are no production qualities. Also, so much could have been edited out that is still a part of the movie. Like the way this boy persuades hi mother is itself 6 minutes. But it's neither slow nor boring coz of a stronger and a curious story. The dialogues I understood through subtitles seemed apt. Acting is terrific and I would give the boy a special gift.

I heard of this film, when my FTII (film institute ) friend referred this and I must say, this is a typical FTII movie, its an easy watch but hard to digest. I am better off not watching Irani movies coz I cannot just keep wiping off my eyes, i did that 4-5 times in this 75 minute film. 

Abbas Kiarostami, the director should be credited for all that he did and in fact he is now one of the very few heart ful directors who has a heart more than a mind.

It's 4/5 for a movie that moved me extremely.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

MALENA (2000) - ITALIAN


We grow up on dreams and then dream to grow.

Before reviewing this film I would share my personal account related to this. In college, adolescent movies, porn used to be discussed and when I was in one such discussion a friend told that he was fascinated by this movie. I downloaded it and privately watched it alone expecting this to be a very evocative and a sexual movie. Now it was all to my surprise, it turned out differently. A week later, I showed this movie to my friend Raghuveer.  Initially, he was interested in nude scenes (coz I got to know of this only through him) but once the film began, we both completed it. And after a week when I called him to know what he was doing, he just said, he was dreaming and thinking only of Malena. That was the impact. I got back to this 2 years later while in job but the reaction was the same by my other friend. Now today when I watched it, I was again satisfied coz this is one of the most compelling stories that stood out in time.

Hmm, to review this movie is a tough job for me coz it's difficult to judge what you love the most. I love Monica Bellucci thoroughly in the movie and while younger, fantasized about her the same way Renato did in the movie. It's a story of how cruel beauty is to self and how beautiful it is to the eyes of the beholder. Malena's only curse is she is beautiful in a village filled of demons. 

It is one of the most simple stories told and still it kept me going because the way camera works and each scene be it an adolescent or a court room fight, or even a dream sequence just made me feel something if at times happy then at times sad and in fact very angry. So each scene did move me, they touched me for sure and that's where the writing of the screenplay is a winner. Mind you, it is based on a short story and this can be anywhere and at anytime. Though based on world war 2 in Italy, the theme is universal, it's of abuse and how beauty is used.

A kid has a dream but is still helpless and most adults are powerful but devoid of compassion. While in movies, nudity comes as an X factor or for publicity it is very precisely used here to take the story forward and rather substantiate the theme. 

The music by Ennio Morricone grips you and empathizes with the characters emotions be it a chase on a cycle or a song La Amore, they are very aptly placed and used. The way camera moves tells you what the whole village is talking and what each character is about. The art direction takes you back to the time of world war 2. So everything is done well but acting by Giuseppe Sulfaro (son of the director Giuseppe Tornatore) is terrific. I think, since the director could not romance Monica, he let his son do just like a scene where the father takes the son to brothel when he realizes his son has grown up. And Monica is quite a revelation with silence she spoke a lot.

Spare the nudity please, if that was not there this could just be another story.

Thank you Tornatore for such a compelling film and thank you for showing Monica Bellucci as the ultimate beauty whom every man should crave for.

It's 4/5 for this one. Many may not like it but I will go with Malena any day.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SHATRANJ KE KHILARI (1977) - URDU


If we are engrossed in one thing then it's good not to think of anything else.

I could have easily written that the language is Hindi, since the milieu of the story is from Lucknow and is mostly in Urdu and partly in English, I gave it accordingly. In terms of language, this fim is very unlike of any other Satyajit Ray film as most are Bengali. But in terms of authenticity it has surely Ray's vision and is up there to match up the standards.

Set in 1856 Lucknow, the story is about the last king of Awadh, it questions the ethnicity and the political will of the then british empire. Played by Amjad Khan who brings out a fine performance and in fact all the performances are just in place even the one scene of Farooq Sheikh where he gives a blank expression is also done very well.  I loved every actor here but Amjad Khan stood out for me as the fat bumpy king who is oblivious to everything apart from his personal indulgences.

Shot exquisitely simply in comparison to any period film, the film is very strong in drama and holds you to see if war will happen and it may disappoint you if you expected it to be a movie on freedom struggle. The pathos that the movie evokes does not bring tears to eyes but brings thoughts to minds, wasn't british so much better than such kings. 

Munshi Premchand, on whose story the movie was based is in fact one of the most sarcastic writers in hindi and his sarcasm is hidden, he laughs at a society that lives in oblivion and disowns everything but self interest. 

Coming to the title, it's very symbolic if there are two games that will make you forget everything else and will become an addiction the they are the playing card games or chess and this is what symbolises, our two main story tellers are addicted so much that even though there is a british army walking to capture Awadh, they play chess under the tree.

It's simple yet strong and very daunting memory of Satyajit Memory may be with you for a long time to come. 

It's 3/5 that is good. Our master Satyajit ray made many better movies

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

127 HOURS (2010) - ENGLISH


I am surprised that I did not yet write a review of this film that is true honest and uncompromising.

It's a bore, un engaging, we saw this many times, yeah he is triumphant but we lost our time. These were the words I heard most from those who saw it coz that's not what it is for me.

It is one of the honest stories I have seen all through last year and even as I saw it now, I could not hold myself from scratching my cheeks hard when the amputation scene came. It's one of the best voyages undertook and our hero Aron has not actually won it but he had to lose something to win life. And that something is priceless.

Aron is an adventurer who frequently ventures into the national parks of UTAH(that's one state of USA I missed last visit and in fact the state that has most national parks.) UTAH is known for it's very Red Indian life style, it's very lively people. But here, most of the movie is shot in canyon, the whole movie is shot in landscapes and specifically only one cliff in the Blue John Canyon.

The way it is shot is so very thrilling that I got everything for minuscule to a macro, just by camera movement.
The camera is everywhere, coz we get to know of the tape moving in the video recorder and the drops sprinkling inside the water bottle. Man, the camera work is a lesson to learn and will let us know how to make a simple movie interesting with such great work. Also, the shot has to be placed perfectly placed so I credit the editor for this for he had a very sharp scissor.

Major Credit must be given to James Franco who played the role of the real life star Aron Ralston. The scene in which Aron reaches for the sun light when he is stuck is so terrific and the emotions are so very well portrayed. I can see the pain and the joy at once.

Now, this is one of the very best Blu-rays I have and it's because all the landscapes, the slot canyons, the water jumps, the background music are made so terrific by two things. 1) Cinematography 2) Audiography.

Now, Danny Boyle who perceived this film and made it with conviction has to be praised for bringing out a triumphant story and triumph is actually what we crave for in every story we watch. If the whole of the movie did anything, it just touched me and moved me. Thank you Danny for bringing to light a story worth telling yet again to screen. Thank you very much.

It's 4/5 for a movie that's a must watch without a pause or a break.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (2011) - ENGLISH


Travelling on streets is good but travelling in time is marvelous.

I have heard of time travel in the film Shining but saw it happen one time after another in this film. Aptly titled, this film is about the mysterious life in paris that revels in nostalgia. It still has the fragrance of those great artists that adored this great city from a Picasso to Hemingway to so many.

Now there is our protagonist Gil Pender who loves the 1920's  and very fluidly travels to 1920 and makes connections with the artists. Actually, there is not much of a story, but everything pops up in between, there is an artistis desire, there is infidelity there is an envy about another man and there is love for multiple woman. But all of that said, it's a journey of an artist.

Oh, did I mention that this is a Woody Allen film, yes it is and its very Allenish. Now there can't be a movie without Allen so our hero Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is the Allen of the film who is very subconsciously driven and speaks out long sentences that make little meaning to others (but I could make out what he meant). He dreams, and when he realizes he seems so very lost, he does not know what to do and again gets lost. He just knows, he wants to stay in Paris. His every move evokes love for the great city.

The art direction if anything is superficial and I envy every bit of it coz the hollywood for every story have superb technicians and the way they use technology is simply superb. The cinematography is simple for few scenes like a chat between the characters and terrific when it has to bring paris alive. Yes, certainly Paris is a character of the movie and right in the first few frames I realized this and in fact those first shots were the best of the movie in terms of showing paris. Did I tell there is infidelity as common theme as in an Allen movie.

All through, I can see Allen and his hope for bringing out yet another film that says Art for Art's sake and he succeeds yet again and he cannot fail coz there is a protagonist so strong in him that we can vie for and woo for. We surely want him to simply follow his dreams.

It's a charming and an enchanting film nevertheless but it's not a story that we shall for long remember I believe. It did not engage me much in terms of screenplay or characterization to say so except for the enticement caused by the camera.

Hail Allen, I give it 3/5. A good one to go for sure.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

FALL IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Please click on the photo to view the album

CITY OF GOD (2002) - PORTUGESE


A very very terrific brazilian film that is completely raw in characters, language and depiction.

This is a crime movie about the hoodlums in Brazil and the drug mafia and the background of each case. How gangs form, how they get lost, are killed, what fate do they give to future and all that you cannot even imagine at times. This is the most raw film I ever saw and I can smell everything from the streets stinking to the perfume of the girl to the drugs taken. It's so very well taken that I even forgot all this was done by a camera. So fluid is the movie and hats off to the cinematographer, the art director and the director.

Written extremely tightly and completely driven by various characters and is narrated by Rocket, our protagonist who is an observer, yes he is a cameraman in the movie and captures all he could about the mafia. Each character takes the story forward and each scene just keeps you as engrossed as the earlier one. There is no one frame that could have been cut in this extremely well edited movie. 

It's a rarity to see all things knit well up in this movie and I appreciate and would yearn for more such movies. The milieu, the slang, the topography all are so well compiled and choreographed.  And to bring all this together, I would hail the director Fernando Meirelles who has brought raw energy into a film and makes it extremely powerful and in fact the most powerful movie for generations to come.

This is a movie that one must quickly watch it. I cannot exactly tell what I liked coz I liked everything and this again is a must experience movie.

Thanks Fernando extremely grateful for giving such a great movie.

It's 5/5 and is a must see movie.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

AND THE THREE MEN I ADMIRE MOST

"And the three men I admire most,
The father, son and the holy ghost" - American Pie Song Lyrics

Well there is no father or son or holy ghost but this blog is exclusively about three men I met last October 6th and whom I admire the most for that they have given me and what I learnt from them.

Last October 6th, I landed in Mexico and was called upon to office and been there, on that very day, I met these three men and forever these will be etched in my memory and my mexico stint as an onsite coordinator is the best professional thing that ever happened to me. I was there from October 6th 2010 till May 6th 2011 and I relished every bit of it professionally.

These 3 men, vary very much in personality and in their execution and even professional beliefs but still they have taught me one thing "Believe in yourself and just do it" and this is what I exactly did all through the while.

1. His name is Srinivas Lakshman (I better make it Shrinivas as he stresses on SH), the HTS Sub director, who was my client before I knew him and now I would say he is a Godfather kind of person to me and yes I can simply call him a POWERHOUSE, who has given me the best professional advice I ever received that was to stay focus on work, "bas kaam karo baaki sab hojaayega" was what he used to tell me and it meant a lot to me and even now it means a lot.

I was so happy in his company and he backed me up for everything, be it for solving issues or going after the non performing teams, I still remember what we used to talk in the project Bravo when few other teams did not do what they were supposed to and he used to just go laughing about it. Also, I can still hear the wobbling of his voice when in one bravo status call he just put it like "this is our one chance, if we have to it should be this october end, else it will be tough, guys I am just telling you this, one final chance we have" I least expected such a modulation from a man who is know for his strength and that call made me adore him more for his passion for work more than anything else.

Yes, he was a powerhouse and he still is and I shall rever him for that, only if had not been there for Bravo and for the other projects, they woud have not met the deadlines they were supposed to. I have never met a client who is as passionate and devoted for his work as he is. Also, the way he used to get things done is just stupendous, he can push you to any extent to just get it done. Man for many he was a tough guy and for me I took it like it was my responsibility to do it and if I am being pushed then let me challenge myself if I can deliver and I must say that if not for anyone, I used to work only to deliver it to him, what this man had done to me is what no one else could do or even do it. He backed me in the toughest of situations and I in gratitude had to do the simplest of the things, that is to do my job and that is what I learnt, when you do your job all else will fall in place.

Of all that, there was only one aberration that I myself caused by dropping him a mail when he is requested for discipline I still think it was a grave mistake for doing a thing that was completely uncalled for. Srini sir, I completely and sincerely apologize for that all thru my life.

Even I liked the way he used to call me "Kaminey" over the phone, it was like a dearest friend calling you and indeed he is one of the greatest friends I have, though we talk less we still substantiate our friendship and I respect it very much. He says after advising me, "I am just telling you, but you may not like this" and in reality I liked his every advice and to very great extent followed it coz those were the most viable professional advices I ever got.

No gratitude, how much ever I show shall fall short of what Srini has done for me and I shall ever be grateful for. Sir, please apologize me if ever I had hurt you. I shall always be indebted for your trust and faith in me and hope that again I will be given a chance to stand for that. It was my utmost pleasure working with you and given a chance will work for you again.

2. Prashant Tayal, my Capgemini manager whom I met on the first day in mexico, just to convey my wish of quitting the organization and he was the first manger whom I met approved it and said, boss yes please do it. Now, neither did I quit nor did I come back soon but the way he conveyed and backed the team and all the onsite coordinators is something I never looked in any of the managers all my career. Most mangers work on the line "work according to what client says, he dictates, we follow" and Prashant "Senor" as I fondly called him said "Client is the boss, but no need to push ourselves, lets push back the clients" now this should an intent that I had not seen prior to this. It was clear, that we have to work for a certain number of hours and not more, and the whole intention was to protect the work-life balance for every associate under him. Man, he honestly tried it in every sense and achieved it in his own way to an extent.

I have never seen a manager who said "Escalation is a tool to get things done" or "Do what you think is right even if its against few people and never think of consequences" or "Never worry what you hear or think of what you see, be worried and think of what you do". He indeed was a people's manager and that's what is an unlikely characteristic, he may not be like by the core management guys, be he will surely be liked by those who are under him and I have my utmost respect and admiration for him.

Also, I had not seen any other indian speaking Spanish so authentically as he did. It was very great working with you and Muchas Gracias Senor for being there helping me out deal with things.

3. Sumeet Biyani, now he was in fact the first of the guys whom I met and who took me to HSBC Torre office, the war room where I met Srini Sir and the bravo team. He was a man behind me for many things, firstly to understand how mexico work environment is, and how exactly you have to get things done. I learnt one thing and in fact the most important thing "If you know how to do it, then do it if you do not know then you must know who will do it". He helped me a lot technically to setup the major connectivities in Bravo project and providing me right contacts and time to time making me realize what my responsibility and thus, finally all this enabled me to achieve the common goal which was successful execution of project. Without him, I would not got in touch with Akash Tayade, (a great man, whom did not have the pleasure to meet yet but will look forward to the same) who was th man behind the unix automation (and yes there was another guy Rajesh Madaye who was very instrumental too). Also, he provided direction for me to establish connectivities between mainframes to facilitate the data flow.

After bravo project, he was made my functional line manager by Srini Sir, and it was the right thing to do so coz I respected him for his knowledge of the system and his way of doing things, though very strict and tough to follow was very result oriented and a successful one. Before him being the manager, there was a lot of noise between me and my offshore management but once he took over, I was happy to be silent coz he handled it and I just had to abide by what he said.

He was in fact on the right side and always used to tell me "forgive and forget, leave all that to me" he took care of every heat that was pointed to me and always defended me for which I am very grateful. He at times differed from me too and what he did was right thing, coz I was way too fickle and unfocussed at that time and thats where his wisdom worked. He was the most wise dealer of people, who used to tell something straight but in the politest of the manner "agar kisi ko maarna hai, toh makkhan lagaake maaro" he told me once and what that actually meant, I learnt it later on.

Sumeet Anna, it was of tremendous help working with you and shall always relish the time we have been together. Yes, he also was the guy who took me to first Mexican Pub and used to call me up whenever he was going.

So this was about the three men I cherished most working and shall be in my memory forever.

There are many great friends whom I met as a part of my endeavor in mexico like Muthu, Prasobh, Sunita, Swaroop, Swapnil,  and many others but these three are the ones I worked with the most and respect the most. I deeply thank everyone who was acquainted to me and made my trip to mexico, the most memorable one.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

BICYCLE THIEVES (1948) - ITALIAN


The quest is for identity, a job, a better life and that's all in a bicycle.

One of the most realistic films made in times just after world war where everyone in Italy was after a job and beg borrow or steal get a job coz that's the way for better living. Our hero is Antonio Ricci, married has a wife and a kid and gets a job that needs a bicycle. He affords a bicycle and it's stolen now his run to get it back makes the whole movie. He devises ways, catches in fact the thief too, but did he succeed? See it to know it. We all know, that a heart once lost cannot be found again and a life once lost can never be gained again. But if we lose a bicycle, there is a hope of getting it again and it's proved here that hope drives a human being more than anything else.

The movie camera moves to and fro into the frames to bring in emotions out of the extremely heart broken but still hopeful Ricci and camera itself acts as a character by bringing out the milieu of the times and the locales. What beautiful thing to know that times then were so very hopeless and still hope is what  drove everything in each one.

It's easily one of best directed and acted films that has no histrionics but simple plain real life portrayals. The music is simple and there is not much to edit in the movie which means it's perfect as it is. Loved, the way it was made, it was then un compromisingly made and hats off to that.

Easily one of the best movies ever. It's 5/5.

THE LIVES OF OTHERS (2006) - GERMAN


You can sacrifice anything but yourself and your love and love filled with guilt is better to be dead.

The theme of the movie is complex to construe coz it has many layers, its very humane as a theme and brings very gross realities as a human being. Setup in the 1980's germany where it was still divided and it was in East Germany about an artist couple, a writer and an actress being watched over by the Stasi, by HGW XX/7 the code name of the Policeman who wil note the records of what the couple does all through. This policeman played by Ulrich Muhe is the protagonist of the film. Now, the whole movie drives with his writings, his listenings and what he makes out of them. Truth is kept alive by this man and that is what he lives for, for truth. 

Now, few movies have a very engrossing screenplay from first frame and this one has it and deservingly is one of the best films in terms of story and screenplay, the direction is so well done that never for a slightest moment did I feel that something was out of place or it is uncalled for, everything went as per the script which is the true hero. There are no aberrations as such as each character is etched out superbly. You cannot write characters as black and white coz there is a flaw in each and that's what is shown. 

It's one of the few films that is supremely human and music too has it's own place to bring out humanity, like reference of Lenin's quote on Betthoven's symphony. Watch it to know it, I cannot comprehend in mere words what this film is. 

One of the superb films in recent times. I make it 5/5.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

CASABLANCA (1942) - ENGLISH


To begin with a review for what is considered a great movie of all time by many, I would say, “Play it again, Sam”. The line is in the movie itself.

This movie is revered by many and indeed comes out as a great love story, but in fact apart from few minutes of a montage or a flashback, it never really revealed how they did fall in love, they here is the hero and the heroine. The protagonist, is apparently not a human here but they are the transit papers that drive the whole story and to get hold of them will be each character’s will. Played extremely well by all the characters involved, the acting is a text book for many aspiring actors even today and shall be there forever. Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund just paints the screen with her eyes, so well captured those eyes are that they made me desire for them and to have a faint touch of those to wipe those tears. This movie shall always be a tribute to her. Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine has done well and what I learnt from him was how to be expressionless and to derive an expressionless face also needs an extremely tough expression.

The writing is pretty accurate but the reasoning’s are minimal, why a certain character behaves in a way is not completely revealed in the film. It is highly unconventional a love story for 1942 coz, Ilsa is seen kissing Rick many a time as he is the one she loves but is not by Victor Laszlo, the man whom she is married to and the man who loves Ilsa the most. That is an irony and brings an uncertainty to the way characters act. One scene where Ilsa and Rick are in Paris, embracing each other breaks up where they have to part and another scene turns up that Ilsa is manipulating Rick later to escape the country and even then she says that she loves Rick only. That is an inconsistency I observed but nevertheless, the story she reveals to Rick as to whom she was and what has actually happened to her makes up for it.  But for today’s viewers most scenes may seem like to have been cooked up and not so fluid and even I felt the same, the climax escape which Rick sets up is a bit truly altruistic and actually not very much appreciated by me. If I love a woman, she comes back I would rather stick with her then let her go again. My love is of prime importance to me but here, Rick has other plans so I did not like the climax much had it been the other way portraying a selfish human being as protagonist, surely the movie may not have received this much appreciation.

The music is excellent and the one song As Time Goes By is poignant and relevant to the movie narrative and even for normal reference. That is a high point apart from the acting of the film. The cinematography was simple and so are the settings which are mostly shot within studio.

So thus, I would say, this movie accounts as a great one by many and is loved by many more and I would love Ingrid play the role again and again too. But writing should have been tight and the characters should have been driven by selfishness rather than selflessness.

My Rating 3/5. A good one to watch for sure but not the greatest for me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

About Me

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I firstly declare here that all the content written in the blog is exclusively written by me and I hold the copyrights of each and everything. Be it a poem or a movie review. Also, the videos or photographs I upload or attach are exclusively owned by me. This declaration is important in a world that seems so worried of piracy. The prime purpose of these blogs is to put my writings and photographs on the net. and well to start with.... I live in my mind, and existence is the attempt to bring my thoughts into physical reality, I celebrate myself, sing myself and I am always happy in my own company.....I am not the best in the world but I strive for excellence and thats what keeps me alive... Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself--Friedrich Nietzsche