Posts Tagged ‘movie review’


Alfonso Cuaron’s latest will be discussed for weeks after release, for it’s ability to create conversations about family, employment, womanhood, relationships, ethnicity, culture, revolutions, politics, and, even dog poop. Roma will certainly develop religious followers across a period of time, especially because of it’s shot like an epic period drama but in fellini style, although not as surreal as the latter -Thanks for bringing fellini back. Cuaron’s latest is definitely his best work, although one can always argue otherwise.

Roma, being Cuaron’s semi autobiographical work takes us through the lives of two women who raised him, the young domestic worker, Cleo; and the mother of four, Sofia. Both these women have been abandoned by men, sketching out to grow into flawed, strong, and memorable characters. The narrative then follows Cleo’s journey into an unexpected pregnancy, and Sofia’s journey after her husband absconds away in the name of work.


Roma starts with a scene of the floor being cleaned, and ends up at the sky. This film puts Alfonso Cuaron right up there with the likes of Fellini, Satyajit Ray, and Truffaut, who have made such epic semi autobiographical work from their childhood memories. Some of the sweeping pan shots of 360 degree need to be watched to believe, they look gorgeous on the big screen -why is this a Netflix film! Also, another achievement on the film would be the immersive sound design which takes you right into Mexico.

It would be criminal to not mention the breathtaking scene towards the end at a family holiday on the beach. The scene of Cleo and the kids in the sea is one of the best monochromatic scenes ever seen. This dripping with love, water, and, dog-poop poetry by Cuaron on his childhood memories and the women who shaped him is a must watch, his work is more empathetic than the people he is compared with earlier in this write up.


Climax can easily be said to be Gasper Noe’s comeback. If not for the hype, I would’ve easily resisted watching another film by Gasper Noe, a filmmaker who has which always relied upon sensationalism, provocativeness, and intensely shocking narratives and visuals. His latest is more shocking and more deranged, but this time, his antics work in the favour of the story.

A troupe of young dancers have gathered in an old school building’s empty rehearsal hall for a party, which hits high notes of dance in the beginning but ends up hitting horrifying notes of a bad acid trip, which at some points you wish would get over earlier. Such is the horrifying portrayal of a young dance troupe’s party which quickly goes downhill.


Noe’s comeback is innovative in its fixation of treating this as a dance film, even when people are dying of drug overdose. This is a break from Noe’s sexual obsession and stays true to his vision, the camera work accompanies the dance styles sequences as the camera flips and sweeps at so many occasions, as if the camera is also dancing on acid with the troupe. The visuals are so mesmerising that you end up sincerely watching even the horrifying ones towards the latter half. Gasper Noe is an important filmmaker because he gives us a break from the usual cinematic diet, providing visceral, stunning, and bold images of a young dance group, mostly women suffering from a bad trip of LSD. A strong mention for the kickass innovation, Gasper Noe has done with the credit sequences, randomly popping up in the film.


Woman at War

Weapons, check! Strategy, check! And of course a live band to accompany the warrior, check! This surreal Icelandic film, although conventional, has much to offer and enjoy. This political-musical-comedy is a terrific watch, where some dry Icelandic humour and absurd characters, spice up the otherwise conventional tale.

Halla, a middle aged choir director, has a secret mission, to bring down the heavy industrialisation in Iceland, using nothing but a bow and an arrow. Alongside, she has even written a new manifesto which is sent flying across the town as leaflets, found an accomplice in her long lost cousin, and, has gotten her application to adopt a girl child accepted in Ukraine. One cannot resist to stand by Halla’s strong resilience, whose living room has posters of Gandhi and Mandela.


This local Icelandic Robin Hood’s character is fleshed out extremely well, allowing the viewer to accompany her in this tough adventure, amidst stunning locations of Iceland, which are magically shot in the film, allowing the rural and rustic Iceland to grow into it’s own character for the film. The vibrantly offbeat mood of the narrative is accompanied brilliantly with the live band playing some eclectic music to support Halla. The weirdly placed jokes (deadpan humour style), like the one on Vikings, are sure to leave you in splits.


Touch Me Not

Romanian film ‘Touch Me Not’ raises questions about body, sexuality, and intimacy, in the most dishonest and non-intimate manner. This film has admirers who have awarded it the Golden Bear at Berlin, however, failed to raise any interest for me. The film manages to blend fiction with reality seamlessly, but ends up exploring more themes than it can handle. The strange relationship humans have with their bodies could have been a strong subject, this however is a huge missed opportunity.

Laura Benson is Laura, who appears in dialogue scenes with the director, discussing her issues with voyeurism. Christian Bayerlein is a man with spinal muscular dystrophy who wants to challenge body-image preconceptions. Tomas Lemarquis is looking at comparable ideas. It is all heading towards the sex club. The scenes featuring Christian, narrating his perception about beauty and touch are some of the only watchable parts of the film. The rest of the affair is extremely naive, petty, and radical to an extent that it can be an attempt of narcissistic filmmaking.

Harsh Desai

Kenya’s brave film ‘Rafiki’ reminds us, how the struggles in the ghettos, across the world are the same. They use even the smallest speck of dust to convert it into a burst of bubble gum colours. To be pulsing with colour, even when daily struggles in the ghetto keep getting tougher, is such a solid statement.

Despite the political rivalry between their families, Kena and Ziki resist and remain close friends, supporting each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society. When love blooms between them, the two girls will be forced to choose between happiness and safety. We have seen such films before, however, the Afro-pop visuals and the mesmerising soundscape, makes the Nairobian neighbourhood look like a garden blooming with flowers, buzzing with life beings, and Kena and Ziki, like lost bees, finding each other. However, this is no garden, there is no privacy here, all the clothes are strung between the apartments, everyone knows what’s happening behind closed doors. Kena hangs out with Blacksta at the local cafe but is strongly attracted towards Ziki, who happens to belong the family of her father’s political rival.

Kena’s exploration of her sexuality while the church, the neighbourhood, her mother, and, even her liberal minded father, are against her accepting this queer identity is worth cheering for. However, amidst all this chaos, in an abandoned camper van, Kena and Ziki spend time with each other, creating a peaceful, pure, and silent space where some of the best shot sexually tense moments happen. It is hard to believe that this is Wanuri Kahiu’s first attempt, because he seems to be in complete control of this film, steering the narrative with such great choice of visuals.

Some moments in the film are raw, gritty, and pure, allowing the viewers to get nostalgic about the first time they felt someone’s touch. To jump between socio-political scenes which are melodramatic and unoriginal, and intersperse them with fleetingly beautiful moments between Kena and Ziki, are definitely a strong achievement of the film. To those who have felt love or pain (both are equally beautiful and important), a dialogue in the film, “I wish we could go to a place where we could feel real” will hit you right where it hurts.


One Cut of the Dead
There are so many innovative films already made in the zombie comedy space, one might easily feel, every possible plot in the genre has been easily exhausted. However, Shinichiro Ueda brings a fresh revival to this sub-genre, just like how Edgar Wright did, with ‘Shaun of the Dead’ a few years ago. And while doing this, in all sincerity, we get a terrific Japanese film which does not have a single dull moment, from the word go. We have always known that film-making can be chaotic, however, making a single take zombie comedy is an absolute madness.

There are two parts to the film, one is a low budget long take zombie comedy about a filmmaker trying to make a zombie comedy (Yes! Meta Stuff), and the other one is the entire madness about how the film came to be made. A frustrated director Higurashi who aspires for a stronger connection with his daughter, and has a wife who had to stop acting as she makes her role too seriously and ends up method acting newer unscripted parts. To make matters worst for him, Higurashi is given a makeshift team of actors and crew, forming a sort of a filmmaking unit which can be easily compared to Bhuvan’s cricket team in Lagaan. And just like in the latter, the screening venue of One Cut of the Dead also transformed into an euphoric stadium, cheering and clapping at every alternate scene upon the earnestness of Higurashi’s unit and the resulting madness. The portions involving Higurashi’s wife who takes up the role of the make up person in the film at the last minute, are an absolute riot.

The film derives it’s authenticity not from the crazy plot, or from the genius single take, but it derives the same from brilliantly carved characters, played by little known actors, who are misfits bound to make mistakes, and the fact that they still survive and make their film is what makes the film an absolute masterpiece in this sub-genre. This is one of my best comedy movie viewing experience in years. On other thoughts, this film is not just a zombie comedy, it is an ultimate ode to the madness, efforts, and love which goes behind making a film. Every film is like giving birth to a new baby, and it is crazier when the baby is a zombie comedy.

There is another show at PVR Mulund Audi 6 on 31st October at 1930 Hours.


Yorgos Lanthimos meets David Cronenberg in this mind bending debut feature from Sweden, which also happens to be Sweden’s official Oscar entry. The protagonist, customs officer Tina can sniff guilt, shame, and other such feelings out of anyone who is hiding something. As a viewer, all you can sniff for a long time is just the weirdness. However, this weirdness is not abstract, it’s indeed thrilling, and gives you complete viewing satisfaction towards the end. This offbeat work shocks you in the most surreal and elegant manner possible.

Tina’s extraordinary ability to sniff things at the customs, is challenged, when Yore, a strangely similar and suspicious looking person, arrives at the customs. Tina is suspicious, but finds nothing, and ends up developing a strange fondness towards Yore. Their fondness evolves over time and they are in a relationship, which is raw, intense, and, emotional. However, the film never stops focusing upon developing Tina’s character arc, and then it slowly becomes wow but what the fuck film!

Once into the film, the meticulous detailing and layers, reveal itself with such elegance, that it makes you question larger concepts through this abstract beauty which is shot beautifully, in a wooden house of a secluded forest. The entire landscape plays an essential character in the film giving us a great visual and mental treat.


Harsh Desai

Most of us saw Lipstick Under My Burkha at last year’s Mumbai Film Festival (MFF). Since then, the film has been doing the fest rounds and winning accolades internationally. On home ground though, it has been the exactly opposite scene. Battle with CBFC went for long, and then the task to find a proper release and distribution partner. Ekta Kapoor came on-board and gave the much needed boost to make it look visible. The film is finally in theatres this friday.

Here’s our recco post on the film, written by Raj Kumari. It was written last year after the MFF screening.

No Male Rescuers

Lipstick Under My Burkha (LUMB) was one of the best films I saw at MAMI 2016 – a bold & honest take on female sexuality. All four protagonists are females (how often that happens in India?) so it can be easily said that it is about female sexuality but I felt at the deepest level it is not. And I am so happy about it being not so.

But still it shows the different perceptions about female sexuality in four different stages of a women’s life through four characters Rehana Saeed (a college girl), Leela (a young lady of so-called marriageable age), Shireen Aslam (a middle-aged married women) and Usha Bua ji (an elderly woman).

The film explores their desires, fantasies, and struggle to own their heartbreaks with such honesty and poignant sensitivity that it’s impossible not to see your own secrets in them.

And even after crossing so many slippery alleys of this topic of female sexuality and repression when it becomes very easy (and even cathartic) to take sides by providing a rescuer for these characters, this film allows itself not to take such a decisive stand and sticks to its POV of just being a witness. The film doesn’t rescue them, it just lets them be. The focus remains tight on the process of suppression only, and hence the core of sexuality comes out blazingly clear.

And what is it?

Sexuality is never about body. And more primarily about male or female body. It can not be. As it involves both male and female energies, whatever be the outer form of the body, male or female or any other gender. Sexuality is about being free, being open, being whole in your presence which generally manifests as being with your own body. And of course, this openness and freedom can come through wearing what you like, smoking, being explicitly exposing or demanding sex openly (some of the tropes repeatedly used/reinforced in our films to show a ‘liberated’ woman). But being sexually liberated is further about understanding that these are just few symbols of freedom against respective symbols of suppression. They ALONE are NOT freedom. Yes, they do serve till some deeper grounds of being open with the self is found. And the film attempts to take us to that depth too.


It defines the core of freedom in the scene where Bua-ji owns her desires, and her ownership of them in front of all who used to respect her. She didn’t feel any shame, grudge or pity. She showed courage to assemble all of her torn, broken, humiliated self in her arms and took shelter in her bedroom calmly and with the same ownership. There were male oppressors but there was no male rescuer in the film, and this itself says how deeply mature the intent of the film is. I loved the film a little extra for this one golden aspect.

And in the last scene, how beautifully it showed that such a place of courage becomes a platform for all such courageous hearts to identify with their struggle. A platform to make mistakes, comparing your struggles with others, and finally seeing the commonality of self ownership as the final rescue.
Do watch it. And let us know what you thought about the film.

Don’t worry if you are not sure what exactly is the meaning of ATAVISTIC. Just read the post and then watch the film. Submarine is a small British film that none of us had heard about. And then came the first trailer (scroll down) of the film. Whatever they say about making the first impression, Submarine managed to do all that. New faces, new visuals, delightful sound (do check out the music too) and a debutant director.  So here’s our recco post, written by writer-filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan.  The film is based on Joe Dunthorne’s novel by the same name.

The physics teacher would never leave when the bell rang. She would always borrow five more minutes. I’d grow impatient, check my digital watch, pack my books, tie my shoe laces and then ride my bicycle like a bat out of hell. 8 kilometers of a ride back home. My mother would scream from the kitchen, asking me to wash my feet. I would hurl the shoes in a corner, put the bag on the sofa and run for the remote.  The Wonder Years on television was the best time of my day. Everyday 4:30. I almost grew up with Kevin Arnold. I even tried to impersonate his attempts to impress Vinnie Copper, his high school sweetheart. Not that any of the impersonation worked but The Wonder Years has been a part of my formative years, of coming of age sitting by a sea of fireflies brimming on a creek.  And I reclaimed that part of childhood watching Submarine.

Every classroom has this guy who would be quiet in the class, make drawings with no meanings in his history book, watch his mates play from the class window, go mute before making up a coherent sentence but would write eloquently about a spaceship dream.  Ayoade’s Submarine explores the mind of such a person, Oliver Tate, by being that person as a narrative.  Set in Swansea, we are lead into Oliver Tate’s adolescence; the first love, the first kiss, taking a blow on his nose when asked by bullies to call his girlfriend a slut, his attempt to save his parent’s marriage and his coming of age.  We never see Oliver Tate as a viewer from outside of his world but we become him and that is the most beautiful thing about Submarine. Rarely does the narrative veer off Oliver but in a deeper subtext, Submarine is about those people, who live in a shell.  If they walk by a street, you’d hear guffaws and dry giggles from around the corner but they’d scuttle away and then talk to themselves when no one’s around, which is most of the time.  Oliver’s girlfriend, Jordana has bouts of eczema, doesn’t talk much, mostly in half sentences. She lights match sticks to calm herself.  They both meet in abandoned warehouses, under rusted iron bridges and playing with fireworks, signifying their unspoken rejection towards accepted social norm and the bourgeois that surrounded the 80s. Oliver’s parents haven’t had sex for seven months. Oliver makes a graph of the light dimmer’s intensity every day, which is how he arrived at this number of 7 months. His mother works in an office where you bring your own cake for your birthday.  Consumed by repressed love for an ex-boyfriend who’s just moved in next door, she turns more distant towards her husband. Oliver’s father is a marine biologist, completely uncool and looks like a black and white image of an old book called “Human Impacts on the ancient marine ecosystems”.  It is a story of social freaks trapped in their submarines of consciousness, cocooned by denial and ceasing to resurface.

As children we would go in to disconnected reality being heroes in our own land of imagination. Oliver has exaggerated visions of what it would be like when he is dead; the candle light tributes, the news channels covering the most important death since Lennon, pretty girls from the class crying and he would suddenly return to life with a cape strung on his back. These subtle moments, abled by an outstanding score by Alex Turner and visually arresting photography by Erik Wilson, make Submarine a film you’d want to go back to those yesteryears. It’s set in the 80s but looks timeless almost like a utopian world. Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate emotes volumes with his restrained poker face, throughout he has a face of a kid who is just get caught stealing father’s money. Yasmin Page playing Jordana Bevan has great screen presence enough to intrigue you with questions about what is eating her from inside, why lighting a match calms her and not to forget the red over coat. Sally Hawkins as a confused wife with a fractured past, emotes histrionically but never goes over the top, although it takes a while to adjust to her jumpy demeanor. Noah Taylor as the quiet father performs with aplomb being a caring father and a carefree husband at the same time.

The film’s greatest strength is its seamless writing, making it undecipherable where drama ends and where humor begins, although the quasi-horror chapter titles seemed out of place.  The ability to marry pathos with humor is an art and that shows best in the scene where Oliver confesses about having a girlfriend. The parents don’t express it but we know from their measured pauses that they are happy that he is not gay. The mother fashions a deplorable thumbs up at him while the father gives him a tape to listen to music for various stages of love. He also mentions that there is a track for break up (Reminded me of Nicholson in As Good As It Gets).It’s hilarious but it is also meant to convey how the parents see their son from their own psychological baggage.

May be because it has been adapted from a book but I was impressed with the character detailing of Oliver. If he is about to have a sex date, he dresses up like a gentleman and plans everything in detail. He reads The Catcher In The Rye, sports a Woody Allen poster on his wall and his idea of a date movie is The Joan Of Arc.   His mother thinks he is a mentally retarded and reads psychology books to deal with him. Oliver spies on his parents and blurts lines from that book just so that the mother feels glad about her assertions.  Never does the narrative binge into self-conscious melodrama. The only sad moment was the dinner at Jordana’s place and when her father screams at him “You’re family”.

As we reach the climax of the film we see Oliver dealing with a dilemma: whether to attend Jordana’s crisis, which would ensure that she stays his girlfriend or go break into that guy’s house where he thinks his mother is cheating on his dad. The dilemma is enacted deftly by Roberts holding the restraint on melancholy and Ayoede depicting the fear with that awe-inspiring bridge dream. I would have loved it even more had the film ended just before the ‘epilogue’. It would make it a different film altogether. I know not many wouldn’t agree to it. To keep this post spoiler free, I am not detailing it here.  However, such a thing can be ignored for what a great film it is. Watch it if you want to take a trip back to those wonder years of adolescence.  Looks like the Brits found their Udaan 🙂

Neeraj Ghaywan | @ghaywan | My Blog

( PS – Click here to read how Joe Dunthorne learned some of the interesting lessons in life. And click here to read Richard Ayoade’s list of AntiHeroes – From A to H)

Who said monologues are boring ? May be not, when its George Clooney! The first look of George Clooney’s new film Up In The Air is out. Check it out!

Also posting a clip from the film and an early review by popular blogging site slashfilm. The film is directed by Jason Reitman ( Juno & Thank You For Smoking).

And click here for review.