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.

 

 

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

 Philomena_Poster

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.

Short term 12 (2013)

Directed by – Destin Cretton

It had been some time since I had walked out of a theatre and felt so elated, excited, satisfied and out of words. I absolutely loved the film and so did many people who walked out screen 1, Metro cinemas, Mumbai. After watching a film like that? Pure happiness.Short term 12 is the story of a young girl who works as a supervisor at a foster care facility for at-risk teenagers and lives with her long term boyfriend and co-worker, Marcus. Her own troubled past helps her to understand and fully empathise with the characters. The film explores her and Marcus’s relationship, who absolutely dotes on her and with the arrival of another troubled kid Jayden, they both find a friend in each other and it gets better when you watch it.

There is nothing extraordinary about the film. The fact that it manages to touch you with its sensitive approach to a topic like that and every visual so emotively expressed and without not being melodramatic – that makes Short term 12 a complete and an outstanding film. Loved every minute of it.

The past (2013)

Directed by – Asghar Farhadi

You’ll be amazed at what the master manages to do this time. After films like A separationAbout Elly, he has again managed to blow our minds with this absolutely enthralling feature called The past. The story starts with Marie waiting in the airport to pick up her soon to be ex husband Samir. As she calls him through the glass window, he could not hear and when they eventually meet, the story unfolds. In the entire film, nothing is obvious – everything is told but again not in an obvious way. Asghar Farhadi again manages to get the attention of his viewers unblinkingly in this tale of broken relationships, unsaid and hidden feelings of love, hatred. The inevitable decadence of marriage befalls on you as the film walks with you through suppressed emotions, teenage complications and innocent ignorance.

The use of glasses is clear, both visually and metaphorically throughout the film and as the director spoke about it in the festival (The Iranian filmmaker, Asghar Farhadi was the chief guest if MAMI), the significance is very relevant to the very nature of the film – where people talk and talk and nobody understands the other. It is worth every second and a film you must watch, an experience you won’t forget.

Blue is the warmest colour (2013)

blue is the warmest color

Directed – Abdellatif Kechiche

Where do I start from? Ok, let me try. So, Blue is the warmest colour is the story of a 15 year old girl (seriously!?) who is curious about her sexuality when she falls in love in the very first sight with a blue haired tomboy, Emma. It is the story of their love, passion, separation and denouement like no other.

Adèle is one of those girls who makes people curious of who she is. Its not deliberate. While she may appear to you as a girl who does not much to say, here is Adèle with opinions about everything and very strong ones there. She is headstrong and a character that the director has explored in every possible sense through this film. What do I say about Emma? I fell in love with her. She is an artist, romantic and a wonderful lover. The film explores their relationship, emotionally and sexually, from Emma’s deep ideals and greater causes to Adèle’s need to have simplicity and happiness called Emma in life.

Its a pleasure, an experience like no other. Must watch. Only if you are completely uncensored. (You will know why)

PS – The movie is based on a french graphic novel called Blue Angel by Julie Maroh

Tonnerre (2013)

Tonnerre

Directed by – Guillaume Brac

Tonnerre is Brac’s debut feature film about a forgotten musician, Maxime who works alone and lives with his father, Claude in Tonnerre. One winter, he meets a young journalist, Melodie who interviews him for a local paper and falls for her. He seeks her out and they fall in love. Its a simple story of the tragedy that lies underneath the beauty of innocent love – the tragedy of not being loved enough.

What I absolutely loved about the film was the fragility of the characters especially Maxime, the understanding of Claude, the absolutely clapped-so-hard performance of the dog and the genuine, inescapable warmth, apathy and confusion in Melodie’s head. It had good comedy and the dialogues added to my already satisfied experience of watching ‘love’ fall apart.

Gravity (2013)

Directed by – Alfonso Cuarón

Undoubtedly the biggest grossing film of the year and most extraordinary ones of all times. This is a film that will get itself noted down in the history of special effects and the power of cinema that transports you to the space for one and half hours. One of the best films made of all times. Its not possible or plausible to call it science fiction. Its the closest you have been to space in a film and that itself is an experience unmatched like any other.

It is the story of Dr. Stone, a mission specialist on her first trip to the space and veteran astronaut Kowalski who are adrift in space after their shuttle ‘explorer’ is destroyed with all their fellow-mates. Now, they have to survive through it with all communications with earth snapped and the only satellites can help them reach gravity. With those too breaking down with high speed debris and explosions all along, it is a treat to watch them struggling to survive through it. The excitement is a boiling furnace and the ending a cold thud – and what a thud. Watch it. Ofcourse you will.