Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

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Directed by – Ronit Elkabetz, Shlomi Elkabetz

One of the most compelling pieces of drama I have ever seen. By calling it the best court room drama ever, would mean to diminish its excellency in the genre. We have seen 12 angry men but there were 12 angry men. Here, the entire film is set inside a courtroom with two benches and 3 judges.

The film gives unparalleled insight into the plight of women in Israel. A woman files for divorce from her husband wanting to get out of a thirty year old marriage on grounds of incompatibility. The husband, time and again refuses to show up, probably because he can. Since according to their judiciary system, a man can only grant divorce to a woman, there is nothing even the judges can do to force him. Viviane, patiently, months after months waits for an ultimatum by the court because she has lost all hope from her husband to grant her freedom.

You could see the tension building. The ridiculous nature of the society we all are a part of, puts a mirror up your face and forces you to see it. At one point, Viviane loses it. For which she was also dismissed from the court. But she comes back, because anger cannot buy happiness.

She says, ‘Its easy to blame the one who yells. The one who whispers venom is innocent.’

When I watch films like these, I don’t think about filmmaking. I am so intensely gripped by the drama created by the filmmaker that it comes alive.

That my friend is called masterpiece.

Quite speechless hereafter.

 

Ugly (2013) – A mini review

Ugly

Directed by – Anurag Kashyap

When I saw all the reviews for Ugly, I was really curious to see what Anurag Kashyap had in store for us this time. I have been a fan for quite sometime and even if his new films aren’t as amazing as his previous ones, the fact that he always seems to smartly justify whatever he shows- drags me into the theatre all the time.

So it’s a dark film, isn’t it? The shots are dark, even day looks dark and squalor is at another level altogether. It’s about a 10-year old girl who was kidnapped by somebody when her father left her in the car waiting. The film then follows a series of events that reveal the lives of its fucked up characters stuck in their fucked up lives and trying to deal with this fucked up mess.

The mother of the child is a once-beautiful, now-a-wreck suicidal crazy woman whose ex husband and the father of the 10 year old is an aspiring wannabe actor who has been struggling for years to get a role. And then there is the step father, a police officer who was once-a-crazy lover of the mother but was beaten by the wannabe-actor father and probably married her because he wanted to take revenge. I call him crazy because he locks his wife in the house and his pastime is to listen to her talk to people on the phone that he tapped. And then there was this ridiculous police officer ofcourse, who was indifferent to complaints, like all Indian police officers are supposed to be like.

They say it looked real but I am not convinced. So are you telling me there is not a single character in the film or rather ‘real life’, who actually has some character? I found it forced and very, very manipulating. And there is obviously no way of not feeling bad because there’s a child involved!

The issue is big – it’s about child trafficking and also about our obsession with petty things in our lives. I come out of the theatre – horrified and forced to think of all the bad things I hardly even think about. If that was the aim, well done. But it was definitely not a great film. Actors gave a stunning performance and it was a ‘sitting on the edge of the seat’ experience, I am just not quite sure if we can call it a masterpiece. It sure showed us the dark side of our country. I would rather call it really stupid than dark. All the characters except a woman police officer were dumb heads and what can be the sad part of this otherwise beautifully made film is that I don’t quite connect to any of its characters.

I quote my friend Mohit here, after he watched both PK and Ugly – ‘Rajkumar Hirani makes forcible feel good films and Anurag kashyap makes forcible feel bad films.’

Period.

 

 

Tell no one (2006)

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Directed by – Guillaume Canet

Ne le dis à personne is based on a book of the same name by infamous American author, Harlan Coben.

I loved the way it started. Like most french films, its soul lies in its pacing. Slow and curious at first, then suddenly makes us run along with it. The film is about a middle aged man, Alexandre Beck whose beloved wife became a victim to a serial killer and 8 years later, the tragedy comes back on his doorstep. Now there might be a lead to a story that only seemed unfinished. With Alexandre’s tumultuous journey in search of the real truth and a hidden plot that seems to be getting more and more complicated – the film ends with a bang. I love such films.

What I enjoyed the most were the intricate and delicate detailing of the characters. Of course, they were intentional and contributed not quite subtly in the story – but the fact that they were there, makes it worth the appraising. Its not just a brilliant plot – its the characters and how well they are portrayed to make your story believable that makes a film what it is. I believed in ‘Tell no one’ and at the same time not so much, probably because I could have a figured a better way out in the plot I guess. But I definitely and thoroughly enjoyed watching it!

Philomena (2013)

 The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time ~ T.S Eliot

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Directed by – Stephen Frears

The biopic is based on the real life story of an old nun accounted by journalist Martin Sixsmith in his book ‘The Lost Child of Philomena Lee’. 

At a high profile party, Jane, a waitress meets Martin – a journalist who has just lost his high profile job as the labour government’s advisor. She tells him about this woman, Philomena Lee – a nun in search of her son, who was taken away 50 years ago by the Catholic church. But Martin is uninterested and almost without a bother says that he can’t cover the story. She asks him why, to which he very matter – of – flatly, replies –

“Because human interest stories are about weak minded, vulnerable, ignorant people. So those newspapers are read by vulnerable, weak minded, ignorant people.”

Eventually, the film sets out to be the journey of Martin and Philomena – a human interest story for the journalist trying to gain foothold in the industry again and a long awaited quest for the old nun. Within the plot, deep buried human emotions and beliefs through Philomena are explored, while Martin’s attitude is a symbolic representation of perhaps practicality or atheism. The film is a mixture of understanding simplicity and ambitions, anger and forgiveness.

Very interestingly, it also manages to subtly point out political dispositions of the republican party in USA as well as religious heresy that is questioned time and again. In Ireland, there are nuns who were condemned by the church for carrying children and are till date paying the price of penance.

What an eye-opener. Loved it.

An inconvenient truth (2006)

Mark Twain said:
What gets us into trouble, is not what we don’t know.
Its what we know for sure that just ain’t so.

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Directed by – Davis Guggenheim

One of the most famous documentaries of all times. The entire film is based on a detailed presentation that Al Gore, the former vice president of United states has been giving all over the world for many years now, to generate as much awareness as possible on Global Warming.

It starts humorously where he introduces himself as “I’m Al Gore, I used to be the next president of the United States of America”. And then it takes sporadic turns and twists with awing facts and figures and comparisons of ‘how it used to be’ and ‘how is looks like now’ images of the earth. The film again intercuts with his own personal life – where the fear of his 6 year old son’s death, made him realise what it meant to lose something that you take for granted. Since then, he never looked back.

As he asks us to take nature’s warnings seriously and to stop being mad – before its too late, he demonstrates the sentiment of scientists all over the world by putting tons of gold (economy) on one side of the weighing scale and the complete earth (nature) on the other – maintaining a balance, he says.

It was almost embarrassing and I could not help but wonder, that why – aren’t we serious yet? Do we need a dramatic tragic consequence to shake ourselves from our daily lives and actually think what we are leaving behind for our future generations? He also provided facts of how the most developed nation in the world, The USA – is responsible for almost all the carbon emissions that creates Global warming.

To the skeptical minds, he gives them this:
“Out of 928 peer reviewed articles, 0% had a doubt in the study. While out of 636 articles in popular press, 53% had a doubt. So no wonder, people are confused.”

Apart from the content, the film was undoubtedly very powerful. You could almost feel the hopelessness of the man in his crusade against killing mother earth and the constant motivation to not stop. That is quite something, isn’t it?

www.climatecrisis.net

This film is not yet rated (2006)

Nearly four times as many films received an NC-17 for sex as apposed to violence.

this film is not yet rated

Directed by – Kirby Dick

One of the most interesting investigative documentaries made on the Motion Picture Association of America’s rating system, where it questions the entire basis of such a rating system in USA- the farce and fraud founded by Jack Valenti in 1966. It exposes ‘secrecy’ of such an organisation which branches to many political agenda and lobbyists worth multi million dollars. And the so called guidance that they provide for parents, neither with logic nor explanation, in deciding what is appropriate and inappropriate in films.

Many famous directors and victims of NC -17 rating (No children under 17 admitted) came on board to talk about their experiences, where director Kirby Dick hired a private investigator to find out who these secret members of the MPAA rating department were. Sexual content, nudity, sexual preference, violence in films, even copyright acts by Valenti are discussed extensively throughout, by filmmakers, producers and actors.

Its extremely gripping and very surprising for a member of the third world nation like me who considers USA to be one of the most transparent nations in the world. The truth behind it was just a thrilling eye opener.

A must watch.

In a better world (2010)

Sometimes it feels like there is a veil between you and death,
but that veil disappears when you lose someone you loved
or someone who was close to you,
and you see death clearly, for a second,
but later the veil returns, and you carry on living.
Then things will be alright again.

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Directed by – Susanne Bier
Written by – Anders Thomas Jensen

There are some films which are meant to make a difference. Such films seep into your bones and stir every part of you with such overwhelming mixed emotions.

On one side you see a swedish man Anton, a doctor trying to save as many lives as possible in Sudan. On the other side, back home – his innocent good hearted 12 yr old son, Elias befriends a strangely quiet boy in school, Christian who saves him from being bullied. While Anton has to deal with big bullies of the world who cut open pregnant women’s bellies just because they can, he also is trying to imbibe in his son the meaning to let go of bitter feelings. Because it does good to nobody.

Their lives intertwine in ways, one action leading to another – human emotions expressed so sublimely and with so much caution..

Its beautiful. Too powerful.