Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Troll Hunter-a Not-To-Miss Classic

Over the years I have grown increasingly sick of movies from the US, from Hollywood or not, and, more broadly speaking, English-Language films. British films might be somewhat "clever" but even they do not offer the mature nature and skill and talent that is commonly found in, say, French films. Another reason to avoid the genre is that it stultifies your world view until all you know about the world is all Hollywood and its cronies want to tell you. Thus, for the past so many years, I do what has to be done so that I can watch films from all over the world. 
Indeed, I cannot be accused of being regional for I seem to have as much aversion to Bollywood and other Indian regional mainstream cinema as I have to Hollywood. I am fairly catholic, otherwise, in my viewing tastes although I prefer films from South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and, most certainly, those from France.
Thus it was a change to come across The Troll Hunter, to finally get to see it for I had seen the trailer when it was about to be released. The film is well made and thoroughly enjoyable to any student of cinema or any film buff. 
This Norwegian film is said to be a mix of Jurassic Park and The Blair Witch Project but it is an insult to this fine piece of work to compare it to Spielberg's commercial popcorn or the childish BWP.
Using a fine dry combination of wit, humour, social comment,legend and special effects, the film takes you through amazing countrysides and into the realm of the larger than life in a most entertaining fashion.
So prepare to enjoy and hunt down this film ASAP!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Populaire-More fun than your everyday Hollywood, Bollywood film

An entertaining film has to have all kinds of elements: humour, action, crisis...
Populaire incorporates, in the most wonderful way, love and competition into a story about typing!
The excellence of the film lies in the way it is made-exactly like films set in those days. There are superb touches in the editing and other film making tactics which ensure a quality viewing experience.
The protagonists are refreshingly ordinary looking but with their skilled acting engage the viewer to develop a very soft spot for them.
The film is really all about atmosphere-the dresses, the magazines, the cigarette smoking and the cars...but it's also a lot about love-a good old fashioned love story for all ages, valid worldwide.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Barbarian Invasions -Another typical Canadian French Film

I've had a soft spot for French films-mainly the comedies and some action movies and this because that's the genre I generally enjoy watching. In the process I came across another breed: Canadian French films.
Now this is a whole new beast! It is morose, most often not too well made and, overall, I cannot say I enjoyed any that I've viewed.
The funny thing is that one would expect that Land of Plenty to be more prone to lightness than France itself. On the contrary, the French know how to laugh, how to make a decent film and other things which make life so much the more enjoyable. Sort of reminds me of the case of Singapore, a nation of plenty which produces zilch in terms of excellence.

The Barbarian Invasions is a film about a dying man and how his estranged son goes about making his last days memorable by inviting all his father's arty farty and, supposedly, thus sexually liberated friends.
Every so often one imagines that the film is going somewhere -only it doesn't. It is, to put it very simply, a slow and lingering death!
But I would still say that it was a worthwhile experience. I learned that Canada in 2003 or so was much like India: the conditions in the hospital, scenes of traffic on flyovers...
In the beginning I thought that the barbarians would be the immigrant population shown in the hospital corridors but no! Then I assumed the film would discuss 9/11 but again that was a false lead! And so it went: fluffy nothings dribbled randomly in a morose tale which chases the smoke!
However, I insist that it be viewed for its saving grace is that you get an insight into Canada which all the Mountie bounty and Quebec's Just For Laughs Gags cannot bring home.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Crying Ladies

I do not remember my first Tagalog film but I certainly first developed a taste for them while we lived in Malaysia via TV and Malaysia's finest: pirated DVDs of the most excellent quality.
Outstanding are La Visa Loca and Pinoy Blonde.
However, a Tagalog film is not something you stumble upon ever day and I long hungered to see The Crying Ladies. Perhaps I had seen a review of it, the DVD cover?
Anyway, I finally got to see it last night and it was extremely satisfying.
The film is basically about three women who function as hired mourners at Chinese funerals. I have observed a similar custom in India both in personal experience and via cinema.
When I was in my undergraduate years I attended a college for women where a lot of girls came from nearby villages. There was a very sweet girl who passed away of some illness at that time and we had gone to her village house to offer condolences. Even as we approached we saw village women who suddenly broke into wailing and beating their chests as soon as they crossed the gate.
While it is an antithesis to expect humour in a film about death, Crying Ladies is an affectionate look at the Philippines in all its aspects: family, love, sex, addictions, sins, religions and, of course, death.
It is a film which would be widely enjoyed in India as a lot of the funeral customs will seem familiar but more than that it is the gentle personalities, the accepting nature of the characters-accepting the failings and foibles of friends and relatives, and even those of oneself. 
In the span of one film you get a taste of the cuisine, glimpses of the day to day life of commoners and their dreams and ambitions.
Another aspect which brings the movie close to the Indian psyche is the ease with which the different religions stand shoulder to shoulder with almost no contradiction or conflict. The funeral service is simultaneously conducted by Buddhist monks and a Christian priest. The language uses a Muslim origin word for thanks: Selamat, to quote just one example of the vibrant presence of Islam also in the hodgepodge.