movies

Movies : Elle – Isabelle Huppert’s magnificent performance

We harbour notions about how a movie on rape & sexual violence will be. Elle, the French movie brushes them aside; totally subverting the viewer model we have on such a sensitive subject. The moral purists may not appreciate it. But such is the mesmerising power of Isabelle Huppert, the actress in the role of Michele, that we are held in thrall by her and contend with the existential reality. Michele, the fifty-something CEO of a gaming company, is raped by a masked man in the opening scene. Everything else that follows goes against the grain, deviates from the expected proceedings. Michele does not report to the police. There is an air of nonchalance in the way she breaks the news to a few friends – as a part of dinner table small talk. She does not even actively seek to find the rapist – till he starts to needle her. And even when she starts the search, she does not let it become an obsession. Far from it, it is just something to tackle, that’s it. In short, Michele refuses…

Dunkirk : Hope amidst despair

On the deck of the boat, the British soldier anxiously asks Peter how George is doing. He doesn’t know that George lies dead on the lower deck. How did he die? Peter is seething inside. How dare you ask, his eyes speak. After all, he knows that this soldier, their own soldier, owes his very life to the help he received from Peter, his father, Dawson and George. The three of them -civilians- were on the way across the Engligh channel to Dunkirk in their private boat to help in the evacuation of Allied soldiers. They were responding to a desperate call by the British authorities. All sea-faring vessels were needed to get soldiers back home. In the sea,they had spotted this lone soldier, the sole survivor of a ship-wreck and rescued him from a certain death by getting him onboard. They planned to move on. But, the rescued soldier had had enough of war. On hearing of their Dunkirk plan, he had termed it as madness and demanded they straight away head for home instead. As talk went out of hand,…

Movies : An iconic car chase scene

Explosive Action. Intense. Gritty. Peter Yates showcases it in the pulsating car-chase of ‘Bullitt’, the 1968 thriller. If action sucks us in, it has to be because tension has been built upto the moment of release. Most action movie plots shy away from building up tension for just one definitive release. They seek the safety of numbers; and insert scenes that are like short machine gun bursts. Build a little tension here, release; build some more, release; raise the stakes higher; and release again. James Bond movies fit the bill. Action movie buffs like that. To each his or her own. It is too formulaic for my liking. In Bullitt, Peter Yates, the director, does not do that. He builds up the tension for a whole hour into the movie. And how it works! At one level, the tension is built up on the level of the plot itself. Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) is a lieutenant cop in charge of a witness-protection assignment over the weekend.  A legislator has roped Bullitt in for the task. The witness is going to make his political…

Ikiru : A movie for the cinephile

Most people like watching movies that entertain. A few are open to being more patient. These people will strive to engage with the movie on a deeper level, at least to begin with. Later on, it of course, pans out differently for different people. And the few who are in this category, make peace with that. If you are among this select few, you should surely watch Ikiru. And if death and the meaning of life as cinematic themes sit easy with you, you cannot miss Ikiru. It will be a movie you will cherish forever. So, what is Ikiru about? Ikiru means ‘to live’ in Japanese. The story is simple. A lifelong bureaucrat comes to know that he has cancer and has only 6 months or so to live. When death stares him in the face, he realizes he has never truly lived. Caught up in a system that has reduced him to being a cog in the wheel, the man, Kanji Watanabe wonders whether he will ever get a chance to do anything that makes him come alive before…

Spotlight on ‘Spotlight’ – The ‘Best Picture’ Oscar winner

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter – Martin Luther King Jr A newspaper deals in stories. Are there stories and matters that an entire community becomes silent about- newspaper included? Yes, there are. Spotlight, based on actual events, is one such story. The story envelops the very city and community that the newspaper marks out as its own turf by calling itself ‘ The Boston Globe.’ And it goes on to reveal how we inflict the conspiracy of silence on ourselves – as an organization and as a community. The conspiracy of silence & cover-up In the summer of 2001,a new editor at the Boston Globe leans on its four-member investigative report team, known as ‘Spotlight’ to dig deeper into a story written by an in-house columnist. A lawyer has charged that the Archbishop of Boston knew a priest was sexually abusing children but did nothing about it. As the Spotlight team starts investigating, they realize that this one case is just the tip of the iceberg. An expanding probe uncovers acts of wrong-doing and non-doing by institutions like the church and…

Beautiful Movie Scenes – The Miracle Worker

Anne can see what Helen cannot see. That is no surprise. Helen was left both deaf and blind by an illness when she was a nineteen month baby. Anne can also see what Helen’s sighted parents can’t see- they are dooming her to a life of forbidding darkness; the darkness of not being able to express anything because she cannot make the simple but indispensable connection between a word and what it stands for. Even if Helen has wool in her hand and you spell wool with fingers, there is this primordial understanding needed of the word meaning the object. Without this understanding, absolutely nothing is possible. Of course, achieving this is too ambitious a plan for Helen’s parents to give it any importance. For them, it is impossible to make Helen learn so that she can communicate. After all,”It’s less trouble to feel sorry for her than it is to teach her anything better.”And that is something Anne cannot accept at all. Anne doesn’t hold back in words or actions.As she would say to Helen’s parents later,”I don’t think Helen’s greatest…

The Red Balloon : An enchanting movie experience

The red balloon will stay with you forever. It can make you wrestle with the very idea of what a story is. A great story is incomplete. A story is never complete in itself. A good story becomes complete when the audience or the reader merges into it. A great story transcends the desire for completion. The red balloon ends after 34 minutes but it stays incomplete. ‘ What is the story about’ has ready simplistic answers at hand. ‘What does the story mean’ has no one answer. And that is so beautiful about experiencing it. Searching for the answer leads us onto the familiar conceptual tool-kit of metaphors, allegories. We can bandy about words like narrative and structure and impose some sense. And this movie just like its red ballon floats away from the sense-making world. Which is why it is such a compelling watch for all those who seek to make a living out of story-telling, be they artistes, writers, or trainers. The movie restores mystery and magic to its unassailable place in explaining what makes a great story possible. And…