The Unlikeable Protagonist

When you make a film about someone who is not likeable, it can be a bit tricky to pull off. If the character is a villain then it’s easier but if it is someone more relatable, it can be a little off-putting for some. This is the case with Young Adult, the 2011 film directed by Jason Reitman. While it was a success commercially and critically, not everyone was too taken with it. To be fair, it is completely fine when this happens. But why does this happen ? Is it not possible to make films about people whom we do not like or do we have to relate to the characters to like the film. If you are like me, you do not care about whether the film is relatable or not and just enjoy it for what it is. Now, let’s talk about the film.

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The second collaboration between Diablo Cody and Reitman produces interesting results. In my opinion, Juno is the superior film but there are many things to admire about this film as well. Firstly, it has an absolutely incredible performance by Charlize Theron. She manages to make this kind of a person feel sympathetic. The writing by Cody is another strong aspect of the film that works. And not to mention, it has great supporting work from Patton Oswalt. If you look at the film as just cinema, it becomes easier to enjoy it. I guess what I am trying to say is that, you do not always have to relate or like something to enjoy it. If you loosen up a bit, you may actually end up having a good time even with a film like this. Though it may seem dull at certain points, there is a lot of truth that is being said and that alone makes it worth watching. I’m not sure if what I said is exactly what I wanted to say. Anyway, thanks for reading.

Until next time, bye.

What Is Love

Let me start this by saying that Juhi Chaturvedi is one of the finest writers to come out of India. With just three films under her belt, she has managed to carve a niche for herself. October is another feather in her cap. But to my delight, she is not the only winner in this film. Varun Dhawan emerges as an actor who made me forget that he’s a star. I could only see Dan on screen. A special mention has to be made for Banita Sandhu and Gitanjali Rao for different but impactful performances. Making a film about a story such as this is a little tricky. You do not want to make it too sentimental because people might feel alienated. The script by Juhi and the direction by Shoojit Sircar is able to strike a balance between emotion and realism. As the film’s trailer says, this is not a love story but rather a story about love. But what is love ?

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This I think is the central theme of the story. It is never made clear to us if Dan is in love with Shiuli. But there is some strange attraction that he has for her. I say strange because generally no one would do what Dan does but it never feels cinematic. You are convinced by his actions even if you do not approve of them. Coming back to what love is, is it being with someone even when they can’t be with you ? Is it sacrificing something for someone else even if you do not get anything in return ? What Dan gets is a purpose and maybe that’s what he was looking for. Love means different things for each person so what is love can only be answered by what your definition of love is. Till you figure that out, go and watch October. It is something to be felt rather than analyzed.

Until next time, bye.

Why Lynne Ramsay Is Great

Lynne Ramsay is one director who always gets praised by many as one of the greatest filmmakers working today. But, there are many who do not think this way. These detractors say that her films are slow with no substance and they don’t really go anywhere. Well, if you feel this way you are missing the point. Let me be clear and say that I do feel that she is one of the best there is today. I came to this realization after seeing her latest film, You Were Never Really Here. Go watch it for Joaquin Phoenix if not for Ramsay. His brilliance has reached a level where we are not surprised when he is amazing. It has become the norm for him. Now allow me to explain why I think Ramsay is a great director.

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There are very few people who make films the way she does. Her usage of imagery and sound is so different from what we see on a regular basis that it takes time to adjust to her style. I feel that if she had made more films, she would have gotten more mainstream attention. Perhaps this lack of attention is what makes her direct her films this way. You cannot take your eyes away from the screen because of the way she packs in details in every frame. Now, this is not on a heightened level such as a Wes Anderson but in a more rooted and realistic manner. She finds new way to look at everyday things. This perspective is what makes her work captivating. You probably will not feel the same way as I do. But if you have not seen any of Ramsay’s films before, I suggest you give this one a try and you may end up learning something and maybe even liking it.

Until next time, bye.

The Demon Inside

One of the things that I like the most about any film by David Lynch is the amount of discussion that it inspires. Since his films have many interpretations, you can go on and on about what you feel about the film. His films are like puzzles that can be solved in different ways. This makes him a very unique filmmaker. One such puzzle that Lynch served is Blue Velvet. The most memorable aspect of this great film is probably is its villain, Frank Booth. He is one of the most horrifying characters to ever be created. But I would like to talk about another aspect of the film that is sometimes overlooked.

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During the course of the relationship our protagonist has with the singer, he has feelings that scare him. And this is because he’s scared that he is capable of stuff that he didn’t know he could do. When he hits her for the first time and is upset about it, he fears that he could become into another Frank. In a way, this is what we are all afraid of. The feeling that there is darkness lurking within us and that we’re capable of evil things. In my opinion, this is what the film is about. It is about what goes on beneath the surface. Something that appears to be serene and beautiful from the outside may be harboring something evil on the inside. Well, that’s my two cents on Blue Velvet.

Until next time, bye.

Masculinity And Friendship

In this breakout film for Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, you can find many aspects of masculinity and friendship being shown. It shows us that despite all the bravado and the swagger a man may possess, when it comes to a real friend they really care. This is shown quite beautifully in the scene where Vaughn fights for Favreau’s character. Yes it does explore the stereotype of men not wanting to show their feelings and trying to conceal them. But by showing the contrast between these two friends, we get a better understanding of the male psyche. Swingers is not a film that is funny because of the situations or dialogues that are there but rather because of the truth that is present in these scenes.

Until next time, bye.

A Satisfying Meal

As far as debuts go, there are few that are as impressive as that of Ritesh Batra. With The Lunchbox he created one of the best films of 2013. In fact, it is definitely one of the best to come out of this decade. There are a few reasons why I feel this way about the film. First, the performances of Nimrat Kaur, Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. While the latter has a much smaller role in comparison, he leaves a mark on the viewer. Then comes the writing. Using a lunchbox, Batra is able to tell us so much about relationships, love etc. Even though the protagonists never meet each other, the connection between them is visible to us. It makes us care about these people.

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When all these elements come together, the meal (pun intended) is bound to be satisfying. Though the characters shown here are much older than me, I could really connect with their feelings. When Nimrat Kaur yearns for some affection from her cheating husband or when Irrfan Khan is forced to contemplate the fact that he’s ageing, these are examples of how real and universal these emotions are. We have all wanted love and attention from a particular person or have looked in the mirror and been taken aback by how older we look. This isn’t a film that works only for the Indian audience but is something that people will relate to, regardless of where they are from. That may be the film’s real triumph.

Until next time, bye.

Escaping Reality

One of the many impressive aspects of Far From Heaven is how accurately it evokes the 1950s era. You can sort of guess the period in which the film is set in just by looking at a couple of scenes. The gorgeous work of DP Edward Lachmann goes a long way in transporting us to the 50s. There is so much to admire on just a visual level that we tend to forget the brilliance in the writing and performances.

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When we look at the film and the themes it explores, a common element is escape. Julianne Moore wants to escape an unhappy marriage. Dennis Quaid wants to escape from his marriage and be with a someone he loves. Dennis Haysbert wants to be escape the depressing reality of racism in 1950s America. Moore and Haysbert have a common destination but they both know that it isn’t practically possible to get there. It would have made the audience happy to see them get together but would that have really possible in real life ? It would have been easy for director Todd Haynes to give them an escape from reality but by not doing that, the impact is more heartbreaking and devastating. In a way, at the end of the film, Moore really is Far From Heaven.

Until next time, bye.

Connecting In An Unconnected World

There are films such as Me And Earl And The Dying Girl, where you see a part of yourself on screen. Sometimes you like what you see but more often than not, you end up questioning yourself. In many ways, today’s youth have the highest amount of confidence and at the same time have an unusually high level of self-doubt/self-hate. This dichotomy is expressed quite subtly in the film. You can see characters experiencing both ends of the spectrum. While this is certainly an angle I’d like to explore, I have to write something related to the title, don’t I ?

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Relationships between human beings are endlessly fascinating. This is because of how diverse they happen to be and how much discussion that can be had about them. Take the relationship between Greg and Rachel, it is a bond that is forced to happen. But in the end it transforms into something beautiful. It goes against everything that Greg stands for i.e. not being noticed or in other words staying unconnected. In the film, Greg describes the various groups that exist in the school and it can be considered as a microcosm of the world. Despite more ways than ever before to connect with other people, our herd mentality is still quite strong. We still like to be in small circles and make real connections with few people. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this as these connections happen very rarely and hence it’s not possible for it to happen with many people.

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But what makes the film stand out is the way in which Greg and Rachel’s relationship develops over time. The film doesn’t forget Greg’s flaws just because he’s found a friend in Rachel. It shows how, what he considers to be a virtue can be a problem sometimes. You realize when watching the story unfold how self-hate can be harmful to you and to those you love. Being in a state of self-hate is an excruciating feeling. You don’t want to be around people yet you want to be with them. You end up sabotaging your own social life. I can attest to this as I have similar feelings that Greg has. Is the moral of the story to love ourselves ? I don’t know, but the world would certainly be a better place if we hated ourselves a little less. Was that in any way related to the title ? You tell me.

Until next time, bye.

 

Oh Beautiful Nostalgia

There is a line uttered in Stand By Me right at the end, where our narrator, tells us of the friends he had when he was 12 and how it is difficult to find the same kind of friendship in life at a later stage. This got me thinking about how we use nostalgia as a source of comfort. Whenever we think of the past and if it’s something remotely nice, we end up overlooking the more unsavory parts of those memories. Take the movie for example. Despite all the problems that the boys have in their lives, they rely on their friendship to get them through life. Even if that friendship has its ups and downs, it is nonetheless that something they can look back at anytime and it will bring a smile to their face. Nostalgia also helps us understand something about life which is:

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The way to appreciate something when we are in that moment. All of us are guilty of this at various points in our lives. Sometimes when you are alone with your thoughts, your mind wanders around trying ways to fix things you know that are long gone. Well I think that’s enough of philosophy, let’s get back to the movie. This is a film that shows one aspect of teenagers that many films gloss over. It shows that no matter how close we are to someone and however important we may be to them, there is every chance of people drifting apart. This is a fine film not because of how nostalgic it makes us feel but due to the way it affects us. We see parts of ourselves in each of the boys and that makes us feel every emotion they feel. I would recommend this film to people not just for a dose of nostalgia but also to see life for what it is – a bittersweet journey.

Until next time, bye.

The Florida Project And The Oscars

Every year, fans from all over the world wait with bated breath to see if the film they liked has been nominated for the Oscars. For many people, the Oscars don’t really matter as they are not considered the yardstick by which a film should be measured. Despite what opinion you might have regarding them, it is arguably the most prestigious and well-known film award out there. Just getting nominated for the Oscars is a source of pride. And given that there are only a limited number of spots available, every year we have many deserving films that don’t make the cut. One such film from this past year is, The Florida Project. It is without a doubt, one of the best films of 2017 and contains what could be the breakout performance of the year from Brooklynn Prince. To be fair, it wasn’t completely ignored by the Academy with Willem Dafoe getting a richly deserved nod for Best Supporting Actor. But in my opinion, this film deserved so much more.

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Now this is just my opinion and yours may be entirely different and that is okay. While I wasn’t expecting the film to get The Shape Of Water level of recognition, I was expecting it to be nominated for 4 awards. Those four being: Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Cinematography. Let me explain why the film deserved to be nominated for these awards. The job of a DOP, especially in a film like this is to transport you to a place and make you feel part of it. Alexis Zabe does such a wonderful job of this that you end up feeling like you are actually present there. He also brings out the difference in the lives of the people and their surroundings. The environment is so colorful yet the lives they lead are quite dark. While the nominees in this category have done some astonishing work in 2017, I feel that Zabe should at least have been part of the conversation. On that note, if there any justice in the world left, Roger Deakins will finally get a long overdue Oscar. Please let Roger win.

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As for the other two categories, Best Director for me was deserved because simply put, it was brilliant direction from Sean Baker. He is able to bring out so many different emotions from the actors and given that many of them were debutants, it makes this feat even more impressive. From the way he frames scenes, to his handling of the story, he takes you on a roller coaster of an emotional ride. Watching the film, one can experience the full spectrum of emotions. As for Supporting Actress, this was the most surprising omission for me. Yes the names who made the cut are all brilliant actors but Prince definitely deserved a nomination. It is one of the best performances of all time by a child actor. It is quite astonishing to see her act and after a point, it doesn’t seem like acting but more like she’s living the life of Mooney. The silver lining from all this is that, I am sure that all the names mentioned here will definitely get the recognition they deserve, one day. So until then, thank you for The Florida Project Mr. Baker and please continue to make more films.

Until next time, bye.