When Words Don’t Matter

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

There are many things to admire about the 2003 film, Lost In Translation. The film won its director, Sofia Coppola an Oscar for its screenplay, that is an indicator of how good the film is. It has an amazing performance from Bill Murray in one of his most sombre roles. Ably supported by Scarlett Johansson, the film manages to rise above the usual romantic comedy and it becomes something that is enduring. This is quite unlike the romance that we usually see on screen. What I want to talk about today is the final scene of the film. It has become famous for how it leaves these two characters. It is also notable that the moment I’m referring to was improvised by Murray. A moment that is not suited for people who want everything to have closure. However, it is perfect in my opinion and I would like to explain why.

lost-in-translation2

Just before they part ways, Bob (Murray) and Charlotte (Johansson) meet to share one last moment. Then comes the shot where Bob whispers something into Charlotte’s ear. Now, if you belong to the group of people that wants to know what was said, I don’t agree with you. The very fact that we don’t know what is being said, gives the scene so much more power. It allows us to interpret it in so many ways. Perhaps it was something silly or maybe it was something profound. Either way, we are left with an absolutely memorable moment. We tend to believe that words are what matter but at times, it is just the act of being around each other that gives us happiness. These two people could go anywhere from here. I feel the reason that the film ends on this note is because, not every story needs an end.

Until next time, bye.

A Great Film?

Have you ever had this feeling while watching a movie, thinking that it is good, but it could have been so much better. That is exactly how I felt when I was done with Hostiles. It has all the hallmarks of a great Western. We have a fascinating protagonist, absolutely gorgeous camera work and some thrilling moments filled with action. While reading up on the movie, I was surprised to see how little the movie was marketed. This is a little strange when you have a genre that has always been popular and also, a star who has immense critical and commercial appeal.

In a film like this, what matters is the way in which the story is handled. Here, I believe more emphasis was placed on the characters. This is fine if you were making a shorter film but given the length of Hostiles a little bit of urgency would have surely helped. In some ways, these are the moments where you feel frustrated with a film. Yes, it is nice being with these people and getting to know them but sometimes, you gotta move on. You can sense the potential of it being a classic but it doesn’t reach that level.

hostilescb

The above image is one of the many instances where Christian Bale shines with his acting ability. Bale is someone who has incredible range with his emotions and he shows a different side to it here. I saw some similarities between his work in this film and The Dark Knight trilogy. The brooding, dealing with grief are all there, except in this case, it is much more restrained. So, the moments where he does let his emotions out makes it mean something.

This could become a film which becomes better with age as many films do. That is the way with certain films because, we become less critical of older films. One thing that director Scott Cooper should be lauded for is commenting on the effect that war and violence has on people. The fact that this is done within the realm of a Western, where glorification of violence is a common occurrence, is even more appreciable. We can sense the horrors that these people have seen and that makes us care for them. So in the end, you have great characters but a film that falls just a little short of greatness.

Until next time, bye.

 

Love Blossoms

The Apartment has one of the most sweetest love stories that I have ever seen. A major reason for that are the performances of Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. It is genuinely heartening to see the way their love blossoms. From the beginning till the very end, there is a gradual progression. Nothing seems forced or hurried as the film is paced correctly. It is safe to say that the film’s reputation as one the greatest of all time, is well and truly deserved. There are many aspects of life that the film comments on but I feel that its most profound statement is on our need to be loved. Just the mere thought that someone likes or loves us, is enough to be cause for celebration. Today, I would like to talk about one scene in particular. It is when we see the two characters together in the office lift.

apartment

In this frame alone, we learn so much about these two people. The way they feel about life can be perceived from this one image alone. MacLaine’s Fran does not like the way life is treating her. And while Lemmon’s Bud feels the same way, he does not show it. His attitude towards life is much more upbeat than that of Fran. Even when things are not going his way, he does not lose his cool. This is a valuable trait for anyone to have. As for Fran, initially it looks like she is not doing what is right for her. But over the course of the film, we learn more about her and why she is the way she is. And through this, she earns the viewer’s empathy and sympathy. A lot of love stories do not work for me because I feel disconnected from what’s going on. This is not the case with The Apartment. And for that alone, I would recommend all of you to watch it irrespective of whether you like love stories.

Until next time, bye.

The Fight For Power

Iruvar is without a doubt one of the finest films ever made in India. It is a perfect mix of art and entertainment that is sure to leave one feeling awestruck at its brilliance. There is so much to talk about with a film like this. One of them is the historical significance of the story it depicts. And if you know anything about the history of Tamil Nadu, you know how important the two protagonists are. Today, I would like to focus on one scene in particular. It is the scene where Mohanlal’s character goes to the office of Prakash Raj and asks to be made a minister. In other words, it is for the fight for power. Not only is it key to the development of the story, the two actors are able show what acting is in just a few minutes.

iruvar1

This expression, I feel, is acting at an incredibly high level. What we see is a man who has his pride damaged but does not want to show it. He did not expect to be rejected for the minister’s post. The scene also manages to show the distance that has grown between the once great friends. Where we usually see them close to each other, the table in the metaphorically shows the distance among them. Though there is only one expression in this picture, the whole scene has the both of them portray a range of emotions with such subtlety that you may miss it. This is not an easy thing to do.

iruvar2

A fascinating aspect of the relationship between Tamizh Selvan and Anandhan is the love and respect they have for each other till the very end. Though their political ambitions end up making them rivals, they remain friends rather than foes. There is a constant shift in power throughout the film. At the end, one feels that Tamizh Selvan’s monologue shows the feeling of powerlessness. Without his friend, he feels lost. This is how the movie ends but we all know how real life turned out to be.

Until next time, bye.

 

The Joy Of Life

There are many films that can be classified under the feel-good category. These are the films that leave you with a smile on your face. But among these films, there are those which make you smile as well as cry. Are these films really feel-good ? Well, let me put forth my interpretation of this. As we all know in life, there are ups and downs. So, to truly feel an up we need to go through something that brings us down. Only then can true catharsis be achieved. Even if I told you about the end of Anand it wouldn’t be too much of a spoiler as the movie does this in the very beginning. Therefore, I’d like to talk about what the film wants to say.

anand

To put it simply, the message of the film can be summed up as this: try to find the joy in life. Although this is easier said than done, it is certainly something that all of us could use a little of in life. We spend so much time cribbing about what we don’t have that we tend to forget what we possess. In the film, Anand is diagnosed with cancer and while it seems quite cinematic to make him celebrate life despite his illness, it is what makes the film memorable. Here is a man who lives with such fervor that it seems cruel that his life is going to be taken away from him. All this makes us root for him to recover and when he doesn’t, it hits you like a bullet. Though you are expecting it, you aren’t fully prepared for it just like it happens in life. To quote a famous liquor brand: it’s your life, make it large. This is precisely what Anand teaches us. Whether we follow it or not is in our hands. So, here’s to what we have and hoping we make life just a little large.

Until next time, bye.

Enduring Sadness

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

The 2015 film Masaan, is one of the finest films to come out of India from any decade. For a long time, Indian cinema has been attached with a particular image that is, not reflective of the deep heritage and quality of Indian films. It is a country that has been producing great films for more than a century, but a lot of these films don’t get the attention and recognition that they deserve. To be fair, India hasn’t been completely ignored by the world but there are definitely many more films that are waiting to be discovered. Luckily Masaan was a film that the world got to see and this is important as it meant that more people got to see this brilliant film. There are many elements that make this film great – from the performances to the direction but if there is one department that stands head and shoulders above the rest, it is the writing by Varun Grover.

masaan

This above scene is probably the finest example of the quality of the writing in the film. It comes after Deepak’s love Shaalu has died and he has had a drink for the first time in his life. Then, he utters a line that for me is one of the most poignant dialogues that I’ve heard. He says, “Yeh Dukh Kaahe Khatam Nahi Hota”. When translated, it means: why doesn’t this sadness end ? In one line, he manages to say so much about life. When you think about it, life does seem like a constant stream of sadness at times. Most of life is how you react to the dukh (sadness, problems etc.) that happens to you. So, sadness becomes something that is enduring and something we have to endure. This is a man who has had his life turned upside down and he’s kept his grief bottled up until this moment, when it becomes too much to bear. There are times when we wonder why certain things happen to us. The truth is that there is no reason or even if there is one, we haven’t found it yet. Let’s leave that to Varun Grover to explore in his next film. If you haven’t watched Masaan please do. I am sure that it will speak to you on some level.

Until next time, bye.

The Comfort Of Delusion

SPOILER ALERT

Terry Gilliam is a director who is able to distinguish himself from the crowd through the themes he chooses and the way he portrays them. While his films may not be universally appreciated, he has developed a devoted fan following over the years. I am a huge fan of him and one of his best films in my opinion is Brazil. In simple terms, it can be described as a satiric take on George Orwell’s 1984 but there are many other elements that are explored in the film that make it an absolute delight. These range from consumerism to inept bureaucrats. One of the chief aspects that Gilliam explores is just how much better it is to be in a dream like state rather than suffer in reality.

brazil2

We see our protagonist Sam Lowry go through so much during the course of the film and when it looks he may have gotten a happy ending after all, you rejoice because of the events that have happened so far. And then, the rug is pulled from under your feet. Turns out that nothing like that actually happened and Sam is left in a delusional state. What could be comforting from this you might ask. Well, there is a simple answer. It saves him from the soul crushing horrors of reality. In his mind, he and the woman he loves have escaped the totalitarian state and are embarking on a happy journey. But in reality, she has been killed and he’s been arrested. Put yourself in Sam’s shoes and think, dream or reality ? Sometimes it is good to be delusional.

Until next time, bye.

 

A Perfect Frame

SPOILER ALERT

Even with our favorite films, we remember them for a particular scene or sequence. Though we may remember the entire film, it is specific moments that are memorable and are forever entrenched in our memory. Call Me By Your Name has one such moment. It also features a bit of acting that is breathtaking and heartbreaking at the same time.

cmbyn

This is the final scene of the film and it’s probably the reason why the impact of this frame is greater. Timothee Chalamet does such an incredible job of bringing out various emotions. In many ways it is a perfect scene. Everything from the soundtrack to the acting and the framing combine to create one of the most impactful closing shots of any film. Chalamet and director Luca Guadagnino are able to distill the entire story into this single frame. It is not an easy thing to do. The scene rings true with everyone because most of us would have gone through the emotions that Chalamet’s character is feeling. You are awestruck by the acting yet your heart aches because of what you are seeing. A perfect scene.

Until next time, bye.

 

The Showdown

There are many directors that get criticized for focusing more on the style aspect of their film making. Some of the biggest names in this list include legends of the industry such as Brian De Palma. Michael Mann is also mentioned as part of this “list”. It’s in quotes because it is a dubious list and not reflective of reality. This is becuause, as I have mentioned in an earlier post, style is a very subjective topic. So, let’s move on to the film. In my opinion, Heat is one of the best crime/action films I’ve ever seen. Apart from the opportunity to see two of the finest actors of all time share screen space, we get some absolutely tense and nail-biting sequences. This includes one of the best shootouts in movie history. Despite there being so much about in a film such as this, I would like to talk about, as you guessed from the title, ‘The Showdown’.

heat 2

This is the moment that anyone who sees the film will be waiting for. The showdown between two legends, also happens to be a pivotal aspect of the whole story. What makes this a truly special scene, apart from the history we are witnessing is just how engrossing it actually is. These guys could have sat across each other, not said a word and it would have amazing. That is primarily due to how much Pacino and De Niro can convey through silence. But they do talk and it offers wonderful insights into their characters. It tells us about the respect they have for one another despite wanting to take the other person down. The film delves deeper into their lives and their psyche and it also shows us the impact of their actions on their everyday life. It is this relationship that frames the story.

It is elements such as this that elevate Heat to one being one of the all-time great crime sagas. The level of detailing present, makes the film feel authentic and this goes a long way in increasing the overall impact. But despite all this, the film will always be remember for the ‘The Showdown’ and for that, all I can say is, thank you Michael Mann.

Until next time, bye.

The Lure Of Adventure

In the numerous coming-of-age films that have come out, there are very few films that have managed to find a balance between the fun element and the slightly darker themes present in this kind of a story. In Risky Business, director Paul Brickman is able to find that balance. I guess one the biggest reasons why there is this attraction towards doing something a little adventurous is due to that period of time in high school, where you feel like you are becoming an adult. This makes you believe that you can do anything and get away it. That is the power of youth.

risky_business_1983_05_-_h_2017

This photo I feel is a perfect encapsulation of what Joel Goodson (Tom Cruise) is all about. If you have seen the film, you know exactly what I am talking about. When you are in your teens, the need to be cool or even appear cool is immense. That means we end up pretending to be someone we are not, which is a little ironic given how we aren’t really sure of who we are at that stage. It’s a crossroads that we often find ourselves where we wanna be adults but without the consequences. Though Joel is able to get away with only a minor problem, he does not have a clean break. The best aspect of the film in my opinion, is that it did not make any judgements about what it was portraying. It just showed us things as they are. So if there is anything to take away from the film it’s that there really is a time for Risky Business. So sometimes you just gotta say “What The Fuck”, am I right ?

Until next time, bye.