Ridley Scott made the original Blade Runner back in 1982, loosely based on Philip K Dick’s novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, taking as many creative liberties as he could to give us the influential masterpiece it is today. It was also a decade which saw the rise of many unique cinematic visionaries, and Hollywood was not quite the franchise-churning machine it is today. While it is difficult to find modern visionaries in the rubble of superhero films and nostalgic sequels, there is one I have been keenly following for a while – Denis Villeneuve. Standing miles ahead of his peers with his previous films like Prisoners, Sicario and last year’s Arrival, he has just ventured into sequel territory (which usually means creative death), but comes out all guns blazing, with Blade Runner 2049. Unfortunately, Blade Runner does not enjoy a pop culture fan following à la Star Wars and Ghostbusters, a compromise it made when it opted for thematic depth over blockbuster entertainment. This was made evident when I saw that I was one of only 10 people at the screening, and the pitiful box office response. Continue reading →
There is a moment of suspended animation in Manuscripts Don’t Burn where a character nonchalantly places a laundry clip over the nose of another, watching the latter suffocate to death slowly from having both his mouth and nose sealed. It is a chilling moment, and one that strikes the viewer exactly where the director intends the film to strike. Mohammed Rasoulof’s 2014 film is a fictional retelling of the infamous Chain Murders of Iran, a series of murders and disappearances of Iranian intellectuals who had been critical of the then government. Starting with the lead character – the man commissioned by the government to carry out the extortion – the film makes choice after interesting choice in its narration of the hunt for a banned manuscript. Taking its time with each moment and lingering on the seemingly mundane bits of daily life, the silence of the film and its observers is deafening. Continue reading →
I don’t usually review non-English language films on this blog, and I have many reasons for it, one of the biggest ones being the smaller audience for these films. Writing a review is a pretty time-consuming task, and with my readership being as low as it is already, writing one for a non-universal language just doesn’t seem worth it. (The few Indian language films I have reviewed are also the result of requests by my friends.) But last night, I saw a film called Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum – in my own native language of Malayalam – which changed my previously held opinion and reminded me of why I started doing this in the first place. This film, the title of which roughly translates to ‘Evidence and the Eyewitness’, is one which deserves to be seen by a larger audience: and that is the purpose of this review. With excellent cinematography by Rajeev Ravi, and featuring Fahadh Faasil, Suraj Venjaramoodu, and Nimisha Sajayan in lead roles, this Dileesh Pothan film is a real-life masterpiece in its truest sense. Continue reading →
When my friends sat me down and told me that we would be watching a film named Loins of Punjab Presents, I certainly wasn’t expecting much. But having just arrived in the scorched city of Delhi after a long flight, I was in no mood for complex character dramas, and this didn’t seem the type. And while the movie is definitely no mockumentary as claimed by its Netflix page, it does stay true to the tone of its title and packs quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. Though an Indian film, it is almost entirely in English and follows the organizers and participants of a ‘desi’ singing competition held in New Jersey. Stuffed with characters that satire popular Indian stereotypes to the extreme, this turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable film for a setting similar to the one I watched it in. Continue reading →
Diana Prince had several tasks to carry out: she had to get accustomed to the world outside her bubble of Themyscira, fulfill the mission of the Amazons, and most importantly, lay the foundation for female-led superhero films, or even films, in Hollywood. And while following in the footsteps of such flops as Catwoman and Elektra isn’t difficult, Patty Jenkins and her team more than had their hands full with the expectations going in. Wonder Woman faced the inevitable (and more than anything, petty) backlash from male audiences who cannot fathom female fans let alone a female superhero, and on top of that, it came within the DCEU, a franchise which has only received mixed opinions so far. Owing to all this, I walked into the film with uncertainty and fear, both of which were converted to hope for not just the future of the DCEU, but also of a Hollywood which can think beyond white males to helm their films.
It seems that the events of 2016 have birthed a new generation of cynics, and at the turn of the new year, all one can hear around are people crying over the horrible year that has passed. However, being one who prefers to count gifts over curses, I consider ourselves blessed to have received a stellar list of films, taking various different genres to stranger waters, and realizing the full potential of some others. Now while the movies that big franchises and studios have churned out were more in the form of financial investments than works of art, 2016 has witnessed masterpieces from global filmmakers and the independent categories. The following is the list of films that I think made the most of their run-time this year, and deserve to be seen by one and all. (This year, I’ve added suggestions of old movies similar in some way to each film on this list, so the doubtful ones can decide what to watch.) Continue reading →
What makes a great song, a great film or, for that matter, any great work of art? Damien Chazelle’s answer to that question is that great art is anything done by a person who is passionate about it. His latest film La La Land is then a testament to great art, combining the passionate performances of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling with the equally passionate filmmaking by Chazelle in a story that brings two characters, equally passionate in their own arts, into each other’s lives. While being a refreshing revival of the grandiose Hollywood musical, La La Land also turns out to have the biggest heart of any film in a long time. And in this year when most of the world seems to be taking a step back for the worse, isn’t an escape of optimism something we could all use? Continue reading →
If there’s one thing you can count on your kids to do, that’s rebel. And what better way is there to rebel against your ultra-liberal, atheist parents than to run away and become a nun (especially when those parents wished you to grow up as a lesbian Satanist)? Set against the backdrop of a pretty unconventional American family, Little Sister follows its protagonist’s return to her family home for the first time since she ran away, and the seven days she spends there to dig her family out of the metaphorical dirt. Directed, written and produced by Zach Clark, this film gives the homecoming cliché its own wacky spin, balancing glee and gloom as brilliantly as it works the dissonance of the premise into the story. Continue reading →