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 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.

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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.

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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 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.

Wakanda Forever

Hype can go one of two ways for a film. The good way is when the film is able to match up to the hype and sometimes even surpass it. The bad of course is when the film turns out to be underwhelming. With Black Panther, there was a lot of excitement and hype that had been built around it. In many ways, with all that that is going on in the world today, the film became important to many people and transcended the connection that a film usually does. What should have been just a movie, became a matter of pride for many. It is understandable why this has transpired. To be honest, films such as this rarely if ever get made, and that too on this big a scale. If I’m not mistaken, it is only the second Black superhero film to be made. The aspect of representation was a key element of this film and hence a lot was riding on it. So, did it deliver ?

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It absolutely did. One thing that struck me in particular was the balance that director Ryan Coogler was able to find. The balance I’m referring to can be summed as: a mix of tradition and modernity. The modernity comes from what is being portrayed, the tradition comes from how it is portrayed. Sure there are many similarities that you can find with other film, but the sheer joy of seeing this type of story in a new setting, makes it worth the ride. The film doesn’t become too emotional and has moments of genuine humor as well. This kind of balancing act is quite tricky to pull off so kudos to the entire team for pulling it off. As a fan of cinema, I can only hope that we get to see more such films. It is a relief to watch something that feels new rather than it feeling like a recycled version of something we have seen earlier. If this is the beginning of a new era in Hollywood, the start has been awesome. Here’s to Black Panther for opening up new avenues. All hail the king!

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’.

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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.

Life… It’s Hard

One of the true joys of watching a Coen Brothers film, is getting to witness the sheer mastery they have over their craft. By this, I mean the way nothing seems to be out of place. No shot or scene seems unnecessary and everything seems to happen organically regardless of how madcap or messy the story gets. On the surface, the story of Inside Lleywn Davis is quite simple. We follow Davis through a week in his life which makes it quite easy to keep track of the story. Admittedly his life happens to be quite messy but there is no idiosyncrasy or twist present in the story. We move from scene to scene and we witness Davis interact with various people. Through these interactions, we get to learn about Davis as a person. We get to learn about how others perceive him and how he perceives the outside world. Though he himself has a few unsavory traits, he does make us root for him. This is in large part due to the performance of Oscar Isaac.

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The Coen Brothers show his alienation from the world through their framing. Even when he is with people it looks like he’s away from them. Take the above image for example, Carey Mulligan’s character is talking to Davis but she doesn’t want to talk with him. This is a really neat way of showing how lonely he is. This loneliness, the one you feel even when you’re around people is probably the worst kind of loneliness. It can be argued that even when people try to be nice to Davis, he seems to push them away. So is it his fault or do others treat him badly ? That’s a judgement for you to make.

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I feel in many ways that this is a man who is really angry at the world and life in general because of the hand that he has been dealt. But the anger doesn’t bubble out in some grand way. Rather, it simply festers inside him and he has no real outlet to express it. His frustration with others and more importantly himself causes even more problems. Throughout the film, he does not receive two aspects of life that are essential to living: love and respect. So even when he does get glimpses of it, he doesn’t know how to react to it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is a depressing film but it certainly makes you feel the many hardships that life throws at Davis. And when we face these hardships, sometimes we know what to do, sometimes we don’t, but ultimately, we keep soldiering on because deep down, whether we like it or not, life IS hard.

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.

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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.

 

The Words That Spoke To Me

What makes us like a film ? There are many different answers that can be given for this question. For example, it could be the story, the performances or even the style of film making itself. But sometimes, you end up liking a film simply because of the connection you feel with the characters. You see what’s happening on screen, and you feel that this could be happening to you. So today I want to talk about The Spectacular Now. My reason behind feeling a connection with this film is probably because of how old I was when I saw the film. I was just a little older than the characters shown on screen so, it was pretty relatable for me. Though I’m from a different country and background, I believe the emotions I saw were universal and therefore will appeal to everyone, including you.

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Despite there being many things to talk about from this film, I would like to talk about a particular line of dialogue that Sutter, Miles Teller’s character says. This is how it goes:

Sutter: Compared to other kids, I haven’t had that many hardships… not really. Shit’s… Stuff’s happened, sure, but stuff always happens right? But the real challenge of my life, the real hardship is me. It’s always been me.

When I first heard these words, I was amazed at how much they can be related to me and my life. What Sutter talks about here, is what I feel the majority of people go through in life. Sure, there will be difficult moments and challenges that one will have to face but for a lot of us, the problem is ourselves. Leading a life of privilege has shielded us from many of life’s hardships so at times, we end up creating problems for ourselves. This single line of dialogue made me form a connection with the film. I have seen many coming-of-age films but rarely have I felt such a connection this immediate.

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Read those words again, and you could easily see yourself in that situation. That is the beauty of it. I am not going to claim that seeing the film had a drastic change on my life or anything like that. But it was able to speak to me on a level that most other films fail to do. It becomes a special feeling when it happens as it does not happen too frequently. Here’s to being less of a problem for ourselves.

Until next time, bye.

The Fight…

SPOILER ALERT!

Today I wanted to talk about a film which I feel is one of the more underrated ones out there. Both the director and the star of this film, David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen deserve to be lauded for bringing Eastern Promises to us. Of course there are stellar contributions all around which includes Naomi Watts and writer Steven Knight. But the real reasons for the film being so enthralling to watch, is the work of David and Viggo. A director and actor combo that has always produced excellent films.

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At around the end of the 2nd act, there is a fight scene between Mortensen’s character and two gangsters who are out to kill him. There are a couple of reasons in my opinion as to why this fight is so memorable. The first is the setup. When I first saw the villain Semyon say that he is going to feed his son to the gangsters, I was taken aback. But the more I thought about it, it seemed to make sense as this is an incredibly ruthless man who is not above letting his son get killed. This is where the scene reached its first peak. As it is gradually revealed to us that it is Mortensen who has been set up, it is such a punch in the gut that I had to applaud the way Semyon had set the whole thing up. The second is quite obviously the fight itself.

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I would like to talk about the reaction I had while watching it. Over a long period of time of watching films, there are few fights that remain stuck in my head as they have left such an indelible impression. This is certainly one of them. What hits you is the sheer rawness present in the scene. Even though I knew that this is just a movie, there were a few instances where the action made my forget that momentarily. That I feel is the mark of a truly wonderful film. Every one of the actors involved in the scene, has to be appreciated for their dedication to bringing out the brutal intensity of the fight. The tension doesn’t drop until the last frame. At the end of the fight, Nikolai looks like a man who is just relieved to be alive and Mortensen does a brilliant job of conveying the tenacity and a hint of fear present in the character. After the dust settles, we are left with our jaws open at what we have just witnessed. For me, this was the sequence that elevated the film from being great to becoming something truly memorable.

Until next time, bye.