Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Pool - Dip into a refreshing parable

Directed by Chris Smith, largely know for his documentaries, and based on a short story by Randy Russel ( who originally based the story in Iowa), 'The Pool' is a movie set in Panjim, Goa in India. A movie, almost documentary like in its filming and having performances by largely non actors who retain their names for the characters, it tells the tale of an 18 year old housekeeping boy (Venkatesh Chavan) working in a nondescript  hotel. His days work comprises of sweeping the floors, cleaning bathrooms, making and delivering room service orders, washing the dishes, clothes, making beds and cleaning the guest rooms. All of this, he does with the enthusiasm of a flogged animal. Inhabiting his limited world is a bright eyed 12 year orphaned restaurant worker Jhangir, who Venkatesh teams up with to sell plastic bags in the local fish market to supplement their livelihood.

They are uneducated and illiterate, but have hopes to someday start a business or become an engineer if given an opportunity to study. At the end of a hard day's work, Venkatesh's one respite is in climbing the mango tree overlooking a beautiful, uninhabited house with a pool. Taking a plunge into the glistening turquoise waters of that pool on a hot day is a dream he harbors . The story takes off when one fine day he finds the house occupied by a father and his young adult daughter. To gain access to the pool, he manages to acquaint himself with the father, by offering to help in tending the gardens of the house. Along with little Jhangir, he also manages to befriend the cynical, worldly wise daughter, who he is possibly attracted to. How these little friendships form and ultimately change the course of the boys' destinies, is at the heart of this heartwarming parable.

Class difference in India is commonplace and clearly demarcated. However, the human that reside in us, is the same. This extremely humane intermingling of classes is poetically captured. The movie strikes an authentic note in every frame. It is slow, almost lethargic in its pace but with purpose. The beauty in capturing the spontaneity of the most mundane of moments and tasks in a person's day, with no drama, is almost forgotten in fictional filmmaking. Chris Smith reacquaints us with the pleasure.  We end up inhabiting this world of Venkatesh's and follow him in the emotions he encounters, the lessons he learns.

The actors are charming. Venkatesh Chavan and Jhangir are non actors who are illiterate and couldnt speak English. The director of the movie knew no Hindi, the spoken language of the film. With such handicaps, the natural performances that were extracted, are applause worthy. Nana Patekar, playing the role of the father who takes Venkatesh under his wings, is perhaps the only big name from Bollywood in the movie and he imparts great authenticity to his character. The daughter, played by upcoming actress Ayesha Mohan, is pitch perfect.

'The Pool' is an experience in verite filmmaking. While the parable warms the cockles of your heart, it is the treatment of the filming, that truly sets it apart. A true to life cinema, I relished every moment the characters had, their simple pleasures, such as slicing and eating raw mangoes, the father imparting worldly advice to Venkatesh, the three friends wondering around Panjim discovering beauty in the ordinary. The movie stands out in its depiction of reality. A welcome change from drama, I have seen too many of those. This kind, I crave more of.

Available on DVD and Netflix Instant Play

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The American - A Lone warrior

George Clooney is an actor I admire. He is the dashing, dishy gentleman with a brilliant twinkle. He ages like fine wine. The movie star gait, charm, mannerisms are found in abundance. All this rightfully makes him one of America's leading stars, a hugely bankable Hollywood name. There also lies within him an intelligent performer who thinks out of the box, a talented filmmaker who makes movies out of the ordinary.  Think 'Syriana', 'Burn after Reading', 'Good night and Good luck'. And thats why he excites me. Because with George Clooney, you never know the surprise this talented actor, that resides within him, will spring on you.

Hearing of him play an assassin in 'The American' adapted from the novel 'A very private gentleman' by Martin Booth, I wasn't sure whether to expect a run of the mill thriller or as I reiterate, a surprise. A mix of the two was my viewing experience. The movie directed by Anton Corbijn (a former still photographer whose love for breathtakingly beautiful shots of the landscape is at play here) tells the story of an assassin going sometimes by the name of Jack and at others Edward. He escapes an attack by his enemies in Sweden and in the process turns the gun on his lady friend to avoid any witness. From this point the scene shifts to an idyllic village in the Abruzzo region of Italy. He is told by his employer to hide here and perform his next assignment, the building of a made to order special gun. This is for a mysterious, sexy assassin (Thekla Reuten) with ever changing hair styles. In the village, he encounters a priest with a past of his own (Paolo Bonacelli) and a prostitute Clara (Violante Placido) who loses her heart to him. 

At the very onset, we see Jack to be cold, withdrawn, perhaps toughened by the nature of his job. An expert with his hands, a good many scenes involve the clinically precise and meticulous assemblance of the gun with a custom made silencer. This suggests a neatness and orderliness in his personality. Truly a man of few words, he spends his time holed in a sparsely furnished space, working out (we do get to see that fabulously toned physique ) and reading a book on butterflies when not assembling that gun. He is wary of forming any attachments which is probably why he seeks a prostitute for pleasure. That, it turns into something meaningful and harbors the hope of a happier, more innocent future is one of the ironies this movie brings out. 

Men who live by the gun always have to look over their shoulders. Which is what defines Jack...a man on the edge, always looking over his shoulders for danger lurking around. The slightest sound makes him jerk up from sleep and its reflex action, his hand points the gun that rests on his body while sleeping. His fear is real. A violent life begets its share of enemies. A particular cat and mouse hunt between him and an assailant in the labyrinth village streets is nail biting in its execution.

But this movie is not just about the action or the thrill. Sure, they happen sporadically. But it is the moments in between, that give the movie its character, is its strength. The study of human nature, if well done, is exhilarating to me. Jack/ Edward is a very interesting man and one of the biggest strengths that the screenplay lends to the movie is in keeping us in the dark about Jack's background. There is no moral story, no reason for us to sympathize with a mercenary, no seeking of obvious redemption here. The priest in the village sees him. "You cannot deny the existence of hell. You live in it. Its a place without love" is his observation of Jack. So, love when it comes in the form of the prostitute, Clara, is a chance he grabs with both hands announcing his plans of retiring to his boss. But is there ever a way out? 

Where the movie falters after building an enigmatically interesting character study, is the thrill and action. Though well executed, it leaves loose ends hanging. While I like to interpret human nature, behavioral patterns my own way, I dislike being unable to connect the dots in scenes that work as a mundane thriller. Since 'The American' is a marriage of the two genres, I come out only half satisfied. That is not to say, I didn't enjoy being surprised by Mr. Clooney's performance. The keeping of his dry wit and that charm at bay, his effective portrayal of a hardened man who probably wants one last chance at the normalcy of life. His expressions in the final car drive, alone is worth the time I invested in this movie.

If you are in the mood of a hardcore thriller, which this movie is mistaken to be by many, skip this as the ride can be slow and the buildup might amount to nothing much. However, it does makes for an interesting study of an enigmatic character, where the layers are never completely peeled.

Available on DVD

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bad Education - Reality blends with Role Playing

Gael Garcia Bernal and Pedro Almodovar seem a lethal combination of performance and filmmaking. Picking up this DVD from the library was a no brainer. 'Bad Education', a Spanish language neo-noir, from acclaimed filmmaker Almodovar whose 'All about my Mother ' and 'Talk to Her' have picked up Oscars earlier, is set in three time periods. The present is 1980s Madrid where filmmaker Enrique Goded (Fele Martinez) is looking for a script to motivate him for his next. He gets a visit from a friend from his childhood, Ignacio, now an actor who goes by the screen name of Angel. Ignacio hands Enrique a script to read, which he says is the story of their childhood.

Hereon, we inhabit the script's world, where a transvestite singer, Zahara resorts to blackmailing a catholic priest for the childhood molestation of her brother, Ignacio at a catholic school. The movie takes us in to the mid sixties, to the childhood days of Ignacio and Enrique at the catholic school. What transpires during their childhood, its devastating effect on one of the character's life forms the story which jumps to present day 1980 and then goes back to a few years earlier for the denouement. What is the truth and how much can we believe our eyes.

This is textbook noir cinema...the mysterious element prone to melodrama, the lighting in its colorful yet subdued hues, the femme fatale here in the garb of a transvestite, the small town settings of the film and of course the crime or should we say the plural of. The surreal blending of reality and role-play, mixed with the adage 'nothing is as it seems', the identity puzzle game, gives it a Hitchcockian feel. Think Vertigo!

Gael Garcia Bernal, a delightful actor whose 'Amores Perros' and 'Y tu mama tambien', both mexican movies, I have relished watching, forms the best of the viewing experience here. His enactment of three central characters (he plays Ignacio, the transvestite Zahara and another character which is a big reveal) are pitch perfect. He is especially wonderful as Zahara. Look for the body language, the slight nuances in the expressions while inhabiting that role.

There is then the matter of childhood molestation by a priest in a catholic school. It shocks but the fact that it exists is not wholly unknown. What is brutal, is the effect it has on the psyche of the victim. The loss of innocence and irreversible damage it causes. Also notable, is that the priest, even in performing the vile deeds, is not portrayed wholly as a villain. He is a deeply flawed man who knows his own evil doings, even makes an effort to change his life, but his passion makes him succumb yet again to the guilty pleasures of the flesh. The movie has been given a rating of NC-17 taking into account the numerous explicit scenes which are homosexual, transsexual in nature.

Tread into Almodovar's world, this is said to be his most personal work, semi autobiographical, if you have a sense of adventure, aren't easily scandalized and prepare for a ride where nothing is as it seems. Enjoy the quirky, almost schizophrenic nature of this film. And when it ends, try to fit in all the pieces, every last bit. I am still trying to figure that one out.

Available on DVD

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Purpose....

World cinema fascinates me. Being from India, I have being exposed to one of the largest film industries to exist, 'The Bombay film industry' or Bollywood, as is popularly known. Being from urban India growing up, movies from the big studios of Hollywood also made it into our homes. Two movies which I carry fondly in my heart are 'The Sound of Music' and 'E.T'. Humming the amazing soundtrack of the former and carrying that ugly, yet oddly cute alien's face and his plaintive 'E.T phone home' cry in my heart, have been highlights of my childhood movie going experience. There is also what we from India, call regional language cinema. There are more than 21 spoken languages in India spread across all the regions and most of these regions make cinema in their own languages. Hailing from the region of Bengal, I was raised on a diet of Bengali cinema. Here I struck lucky as some the makers from this particular region made movies which were truly different from the staple Hollywood or Bollywood fare. It came under the category of 'Art House cinema'. Fascinatingly different, they were not larger than life, one could relate to the characters, their stories, their world. There was not much drama, the scenes were rarely rushed, there was a chance to get into a characters skin, to see their world as our own, to almost feel their emotions. And the stories were painfully real. Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak were two directors that come to mind in this journey of self educating myself in this aspect of cinema. There have been other names from India like Guru Dutt, Shyam Benegal, Bimal Roy, Gulzar to name a few that influenced my movie watching experience.

And then I came to the United States. Here I was a child in a candy store!  Besides gaining a viewing experience of great American movies, Oscar winners or not, I gained access to cinema in other languages, great works of art all made very accessible by that lovely concept called subtitles! Over the years, I have tried to watch fascinating cinema from across the globe. Cinema which brings alive cultures, customs, traditions, social behavior from all across the world, hitherto unknown to me. But devoid of a purpose and sometimes because they are not well advertised to a global audience, unless they make the cut for an Oscar in the Foreign language category, I have not been as successful as I would like. Here is where my ramblings will gather meaning, as my blog comes to play.  I intend on informing myself and viewing as much good cinema as possible, in every genre from all regions of the world. I will watch movies from the past as well as works of contemporary film makers, give my honest opinion and hope that it will help cine lovers to have access to names of movies they might want to watch or maybe not. I shall also try to explore works of the great masters of world cinema and try to figure what made them tick, become who they are. Lofty goals, but one has to make a start.

This is an assignment to myself and I hope some of you will join the ride because lets face it, a lone journey is never much fun. Your opinions, criticisms will be of utmost value and will be respected.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dhobi Ghat - An Ode to Ordinary Lives

'Dhobi Ghat' aka 'Mumbai Diaries', a movie set in India from the Aamir Khan (a hugely popular Indian actor/ filmmaker) stable, is one he refers to as the best that has come out of his production house and I heartily agree. Years down, this is one movie he will be tremendously proud of putting his name to. As for the writer and director, Kiran Rao, take a bow.

I can best describe this movie as poetry in the audio visual medium. A true 'Slice of Life' cinema, which picks up on the lives of four very ordinary people from diverse strata of society, takes us on a journey into their world for a small period of time, and then leaves us to wonder what might have happened to them. So much like the many people we meet for a certain interval of time and then maybe years later wonder, as to what happened of them.

Shai, an investment banker from USA with a passion for photography, is on a sabbatical in the city that is a melting pot of every class and profession, Mumbai. She has a brief interlude with a reclusive painter, Arun and then feels let down when he loses all interest the morning after. Munna, a Dhobi(washerman) by day and rat killer by night with the desire of becoming an actor, plays the common link. Shai befriends Munna and promises to takes photos for his portfolio in exchange of being shown the real Mumbai and the many professions that are carried on in its heart. An unlikely bond forms between the two, which amounts to love in Munnas eye. Arun, with a haunted past of his own, opens himself to an achingly lovely and lonely housewife, Yasmin, from a small town in Uttar Pradesh, whose life he follows in the form of  videotapes she had made for her brother and which Arun discovers when he moves into the flat previously occupied by her. What happened to her and why the tapes never reached her brother are revealed in small heartbreaking moments towards the finale. Munna, Shai, Arun and Yasmin inhabit the world of 'Dhobi Ghat' and are such vivdly fleshed out characters that I smiled at their small joys, ached for their obvious desires which might never be, had tears when the characters accept their fates as inevitable.

Prateik Babbar shows his immensely talented acting genes inherited from one of Indian cinema's greats, Smita Patil. He is a complete natural and the camera loves him. Look for the subtle shift in his body language while interacting with a woman from a higher class of society whom he is infatuated with and then his interactions with his friend. Don't miss his facial expressions when his Munna is running after Shai's car, even though it is captured in long shots. Monica Dogra and Kriti Malhotra, both fresh in the world of acting, leave a strong impact. Their lack of experience, imparts a rawness, essential to their characters. Finally, what can one say of Aamir Khan, the maverick, who manages to surprise us even after 20 years in the business. Lets just put it this way, the actor who inhabits the recluse Arun, makes us forget the charismatic star, and all we see are those eyes....painful, cloistered, lit at times with little sparks of joy which die down to an inevitable end. The eyes say it all accompanied by a subtle, nuanced performance.

To sum it up, this is a movie that speaks from the heart and reaches straight for the heart without any obvious manipulation. A director who know her craft all too well, Kiran comes across as a fine observer of the intricacies of human nature. The class difference, its co-existance, albeit reluctantly, is beautifully captured. It is not cerebral cinema, it is not abstract art-house, all it needs from its selected audience is the ability to open up their hearts and soak up the experience that is 'Dhobi Ghat'!! 

Playing at Theatres

Monday, February 14, 2011

Blue Valentine - Of love found and lost

When life takes over, love flies out of the window…..theres nothing more devastating than the decaying of a relationship, the slow death of a marriage. Derek Cianfrance's 'Blue Valentine' shows us precisely this. It tackles very smartly two time periods, the time when Dean and Cindy first courted and fell in love and then the present day when after six years and a beautiful daughter, time, broken dreams and reality has taken a toll on their love. 

Cindy, played to terrifying accuracy by Michelle WIlliams, dreams of being a doctor. She is smart, probably ready to get out of the working class background, the abusive father and unhappy home she was raised in. Dean, brilliantly performed by Ryan Gosling, sweeps her off her feet with his childlike antics and a tremendous sweetness. Those are the happy times, theres genuine love there. At the very onset of their courtship, Cindy dances to 'You always hurt the one you love' , which Dean sings goofily on his Ukelele. The line is eerily prophetic. 

Six years later the childlike becomes childish, Dean's lack of ambition and direction irks Cindy, now a nurse. He's a drinker who paints houses and is satisfied that he has the ability to drink in the morning, on the job and make enough money to get by. His family is his mainstay. He has no ambition of doing anything more. She's withdrawn into a shell. Her face is forever sullen, probably the burden of broken dreams weigh heavily. They have lost the ability to communicate. He suggests they get away for a weekend at a theme motel, you know, lets get drunk and make love. She cannot stand physical proximity with him. Its heartbreaking to see the rejection in the lovemaking scenes. We see Cindy's obvious repulsion, the clenching of her fists. Dean's not unaware of the vibes either. So, does marriage gone sour, come down to repulsion in physical contact? Its a grim reality as there is really no one to blame. Its not as if Dean is an abusive partner or unfit parent, on the contrary. But he's stopped understanding Cindy and the frustration of being unable to understand the distance between them, comes out as verbal lashings.

We get a glimpse of possible reasons why Dean and Cindy are as they have become. Dean's childhood involved a mother opting out of their lives, a father who was talented but possibly lacking in ambition. It is a probable reason why Dean wants to hold on to his wife and child, as that would be his sanctuary, something his own childhood lacked. Cindy, on the other hand, came from a home which even if not broken, had no love in it and an abusive father. Early in her life before meeting Dean, she wonders about love to her grandmother, thinking if her parents ever loved each other. They must have at one point, she says, but they got over it before they had her. To her, a marriage gone bad, is not worth staying in, especially for  her child. Childhood after all, it's environment, the homes that we come from, shapes us forever. 

Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling are the soul of the movie. Williams is especially heartbreaking as the mother, the unhappy wife. Her face mirrors her sadness, there is bleakness in her eyes and she carries the look of a trapped animal looking for escape. When we cut to the scenes of her past, there is  wide eyed wonder, the hope of love, a contrast to her present day self. Does time and living an unsatisfied life take this much toll. Gosling, with the beer belly and the balding patch on his head, seems to have aged more physically. But his eyes still have some hope. The problem could be that Dean never saw Cindy's eyes shut down. A movie like 'Blue Valentine' is only as good as the performances. And the movie soars in this aspect.

A possible discussion that might ensue after this movie is what exactly went wrong in this marriage where both sides are basically nice people who want good, wanted a happy marriage. So, where did Cindy's love disappear and why couldn't Dean see it going? Did he really ever see her, or was just having a home, a family, important and once that was achieved, he just let it go. Why couldn't Cindy realize that the Dean she courted was laid-back, almost childish. When did he become an albatross around her neck? But really, if we start thinking, do we ever know what went wrong. The moment when we can change things, so that its not too late. Some do, most don't. Thats the tragedy of life and love, a culmination of small instances of pain, hurt, rejection, loss of hopes, dreams.. And thats why this movie rings so true. Why it connects so deeply.

Playing at theatres and nominated for an Oscar - Actress in a Leading Role 2011

Dogtooth - Parenting gone terrifyingly wrong

This has to be the most bizarre work of cinema I have seen. Dogtooth, a movie from Greece by filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos takes us into the warped world of authoritarian parents and their two post teen daughters and an adult son. The home, which has a big yard and pool, is a refuge as well as prison for the  children. 

They have no contact with the outside world where, they are taught, roam ferocious cats waiting to kill them. The children are not given names, are been home schooled by audio tapes which teach them the wrong definition of words. They think that the word sea is an armchair, zombie is a small yellow flower and so on.They wander about the whole day in this prison. The father played effectively by Christos Stergioglou, is the only person who ventures out in his car to his job in the factory. The only means of communication with the outside world is a telephone which the mother (Michele Valley) keeps hidden and uses only to talk to her husband at work.

To satisfy his grown son's sexual needs, the father often brings his factory's security guard,Christina, blindfolded to their home. The sex is cold, almost clinical in nature.   After something goes wrong with this arrangement, the parents introduce incest to the childrens lives. The older sister takes Christina's place in her brother's bed. Theirs is a perverse world. The mother one day, announces that she is pregnant with two children and a dog. If the boy and the girls behave themselves they might be spared the human siblings. The dog, however, is non negotiable. 

The only escape for the children from their home, would be when their dogtooth falls out. Which is when they would be allowed to venture out across the gates in a car and be safe to see the world. There is brainwash here, a kind of totalitarian rule inside the house. The movie brought back '1984' to me which dealt with totalitarianism on a mass scale.

Have the parents seen circumstances in the outside  world that make them believe,  denial to the existence of such a world is best for their children? Are they being protective of their kids, beyond all rational reasonings? Or are they, to put it simply, insane? For the longest time I tried to find a hint of rationality to explain the horrifying nature of the actions. I could find none. 

The introduction of the outsider, Christina, stirs up the pot. She brings objects from the outside world into their prison. There is, at first, the exchange of a sparkly headband, for sexual favors from one of the sisters. Later, its a video tape. That sister gets curious, is finally not satisfied in the gated world. This triggers a chain of events which make for the drama in the movie. 

Watch it as a satire on the perils of overprotective parenting, on the effects of isolation and how the human psyche can be controlled and twisted. Parents are rightfully the first window to the world children see through and come to understand the society they inhabit. Abuse this power and watch as the train derails. As the movie played out, I couldn't help but think how this weird black comedy succeeds fascinatingly in keeping us glued to the screen. And gives us food for thought as to how much we should control our children and when to let go, for them to find their own wings.

Available On DVD and Netflix Instant Play. Nominated for an Oscar - Foreign Language Film 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Biutiful - In a world anything but.

What is the essence of life? Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's latest spanish language feature 'Biutiful', misspelt by a child, touches on this very subject. He sets his movie in the underbelly of Barcelona, takes us into his central character Uxbal's world, which is filthy, reeking of poverty, sad, almost claustrophobic. Uxbal, heartbreakingly portrayed by Javier Bardem, is a single father of two with an ex wife who is bipolar. She beats her son, is prone to extreme mood swings and totally unfit to take care of the children. 
Uxbal has terminal prostrate cancer. He makes a living by being a go between for illegal immigrants hawking fake designer ware on streets, working in sweatshops, on construction sites and living in inhuman conditions, locked up in a cold basement and woken up early morning to carry on a hard days work, mother and babies not excepted. Its almost akin to slavery. Uxbal feels for these people and tries to negotiate their betterment, even though he always keeps his share. After all he has a family to feed and rent to pay and time is running out on him. So, he makes deals with the police to see the other direction and with the construction company for whom these people are cheap labor.
He also has the ability to see dead people, who still have something unfinished in this world. They literally hang on ceilings waiting for him to understand them. He aids them. This is his gift. So, this is Uxbal's world and we are caught in it for almost 2 and a half hours. We accompany him on his journey through the final few months of life. We meet his brother, witness the tragic story of the immigrant with a baby who takes care of his children after school, the man and his lover who bring the illegals into Barcelona and say that the life given to them here is far better than what they came from.
Javier Bardem as Uxbal in 'Biutiful'
 There is so much misery in the world Uxbal inhabits. There is no hope for the people who inhabit it. Uxbal knows the end is near, but he has so much to do. He tries reconciling with his ex wife in hope that she is now completely cured and can take care of the kids. Alas, he is mistaken. He wants to have enough money so that the kids can have a roof over their heads. Life has truly come down to the basics. But, finally what he really wants, is to be remembered by his children, to not be forgotten. We feel the pain of this man. There is a ghastly sequence where something he plans, for the benefit of the illegals, goes disastrously wrong. We want to escape his pain, the misery of his actions, but there is no escape like there is none for the people in his world.
I love Inarritu's movies. Amores Perros and 21 grams effected me deeply, almost spiritually. Babel, not so much. It seemed a gimmicky extension of his former works and, the non linear format of storytelling and playing with time, so unique in his previous works, lost its sheen. Thankfully, Biutiful is linear and brutally straight in its narration. We enter Uxbal's world upon the detection of his cancer and are kept in it till the inevitable. Innaritu, while showing us the horrors in the underbelly of a big city, also shows us the kindness of the human heart, the dreams of these people whom even God seems to have forsaken. There is a touching scene where Uxbal scolds his son at the dinner table for not eating properly in a gentlemanly fashion, all while we are witness to the dirty almost uninhabitable living and kitchen area. Another has an African woman, who is in dire straits, do something that tells us that even in the worst of conditions and circumstances, kindness and good can reside in the human heart.
Javier Bardem, who plays Uxbal, disappears into the skin of his characters pain, the despair of Uxbal mirrored in his eyes. Its all in the eyes, this performance. The pain, sadness, awareness of the futility of it all yet having to go on…..they are all found in the eyes of Javier Bardem. Even in the couple of scenes where he dare feel some joy and smile, the eyes alway have pain lurking in the background. This has to be one of the most honest performances, I have come across.
'Biutiful' shows us a world that is anything but. Its a grim reality out there. Leaving the theatre I was desperate for fresh air, to get out of that world I saw on screen. And then I realized, for how many that world is their reality, not just a 150 minute long feature. And yet they hope and want the best for their children, want their prints remaining in the sands of time, to be remembered. Isn't that ultimately the essence of life?

Final Take: Watch it if you can stomach life in its very direst. If you can, the movie will stay with you for a long time and Bardem's sad eyes will continue to haunt long after you have left his world. 

Playing at theatres and nominated for Oscar in two categories: Foreign Language film and Actor in a Leading Role 2011

The enigmatic yet fascinating world of cinema

I love movies. Cinema, in my opinion,  is one of the finest forms of storytelling. The blending of a great story with visuals, performers bringing the characters to life, music elevating the experience to an almost spiritual level if done well and all of this coming alive on the big screen . Whats not to love about the movies!

Being from India and having parents who hailed from the land of Satyajit Ray, I had been exposed to the world of quality cinema at a very early age. Maybe too early to fully comprehend its essence, but early enough to start appreciating its existence. So does that make me a snob to the world of entertainment? Not in the least. I have grown to regard myself as a true movie buff whose palate include the fun entertainers as well as the movies that go one step beyond entertaining and enlighten the heart and mind.

In all these years that I have recommended movies to friends and family I was told to start reviewing the movies I love or dont. To deconstruct them and in doing so, clarify in my heart and head the nuances of the film, the finer points that make cinema linger in our memories. 

I am not a cerebral viewer....when I watch, I open up my heart to the experience and if a movie touches it, I regard it a successful viewing. The genre of the movie is not a deterrent. I have come to realize that a comedy can crack its audience up, lightening at times, the load we carry in our hearts. An actioner or a thriller can get the adrenaline pumping! A tragedy can have us catch a sob in our throats. In summation,  a good movie regardless its genre, manages to make a beeline for my heart.

So, I finally have my own space in the cyberworld set up to review movies...the great, the good, the bad and hopefully in a very minute quantity, the ugly. My reviews will not be barred by the spoken language of the film. Cinema, at its very core, is art and like art, it has has no barriers (thanks to subtitles). It hopes for a world audience. In time, I hope, I can gather a community of movie lovers who will inspire me to deconstruct more cinema, give me ideas and their valuable feedbacks. So, what are we waiting for? Let the process begin!