New year resolutions, sort of

Smrana Mitra quotes on her blog:

“Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight read-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.”

What this means to me:

1) I should start reading books again. In college, I would read 2-3 books a month. Last year I read only 2.

2) A special folder on my hard drive stays. Its eating 10 gigs but the knowledge within is priceless.

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January 13, 2008 at 9:54 pm Leave a comment

Radical films: Kaalchakra and Ratrimazha

With all the talk about Taare Zameen Par, I think it is a good time to look back at two other films released last year. Like TZP these two films also deal with some problematic social issues, albeit with adults. They have recieved little exposure, probably because they are not in Hindi. The films are Ratri Mazha by Lenin Rajedran in Malyalam and Kaalchakra by Vishal Bhandari in Marathi.

(more…)

January 13, 2008 at 12:33 am 1 comment

Amul tells it the way it is

 

 The Amul girl has always been associated with a childlike innocence. So, it was very discomforting to see her in the midst of a heinous act. I think it’s a strong statement and a telling commentary. It also reflects the confusion and fear in people’s mind that this incident has caused: it could have been the utterly butterly girl on that fateful night.

January 11, 2008 at 9:53 pm Leave a comment

Thinking about Bergman

Just saw “The Silence” by Ingmar Bergman, 1960.

Bergman’s films have this strange element that I have not found in any other filmmakers works. It is something that I don’t understand myself, and I can only try to put it in words. Bergman takes some time to set the plot relying on little dialog. Then some secret is stumbled upon or some character flaw is revealed, a layer is peeled. The plot progresses, the characters act, something happens. Then comes what I call the ‘situation’. At this point, characters converse. The conversation could be a light debate between a knight and his squire, or a monologue of a sick woman. The words, the words. They open up the characters in a strange sort of way. By revealing the minutest details, Bergman establishes an intimacy between the character and the viewer. They now lie bare, exposed. What had previously appeared to be a set of random acts now gains meaning. Where the film had been previously silent, we can now hear the soft drone of a hidden narrative. Like I said I don’t really understand it, it feels almost like a new sensation. The magic is in the writing, to use a cliche.

January 10, 2008 at 9:47 pm Leave a comment

Same hat

January 6, 2008 at 7:15 pm Leave a comment

2007, Best of

A little late but here goes.

Ahem.

Best films of 2007 and why I liked them:

Black Friday by Anurag Kashyap
Because never before have I seen a more honest film. Tiger was scary. Aadesh Srivastava as Baadshah shone again after Satya.

Ami, Iyasin ar amar Madhubala by Budhdhadeb Bhattacharya
This film is about chauvinism, feminism, voyeurism, fascism and nerds. I liked the scene where the computer guy talks to his computer.

Ratri Mazha by Lenin , Kaal Chakra by Vishal Bhandari
Refreshingly new attitude, to some very relevant social issues.

Manorama: Six Feet Under by Navdeep Singh
Small town life the way it is. Crisp dialogues. Great acting.

Johnny Gaddar by Sriram Raghavan
Anti hero protagonist was a killer idea. Gripping and unpredictable.

Ekti Nadir Galpo by Samir Chanda
Mithun’s performance. And the way the film wraps itself around a simple story.

Naalu Pennungal by Adoor Gopalkrishnans
Four portraits of women. Each part shot in a unique style.

No Smoking by Anurag Kashyap
I know a lot of people hated it. Not perfect but I’m a sucker for Alternative Reality films. And John Abraham rocked.
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January 1, 2008 at 10:10 pm 1 comment

Jaman

Last week I used up my remaining two free tickets on Jaman. So from now on, I’ll be watching only short films, till I start earning some big bucks get myself a Mastercard. I have to say, Jaman is good. It’s repository is very rich and diverse. For people like me, it offers a new avenue to explore World Cinema and that too legally. The pricing also appears to be reasonable, at 1-2$ (approx INR 40-80). My knowledge of credit cards is zero, so perhaps there are some hidden expenses that I do not know about and you may end up paying more. Another thing I liked was the Social Networking features it offers. I have come across several enlightening discussions and well written reviews. I am not so excited, however, by the comments feature. In the three films I rented, comments were often mundane or congratulatory but rarely informing. Which is not to say I did not find any useful comments at all. In “The Stranger” for instance, a comment actually the significance of a dialog, a significance that I had missed. And in “The Home and the World” I was forced to relook at a scene after a commenter questioned a characters action. So its not exactly a redundant feature but a lot depends on the users. But after seeing the kind of user generated content on site I am sure it will become more significant.

The three films that I saw were, “The Seventh Horse of the Sun” by Shyam Benegal and “The Home and the World” and “The Stranger” by Satyajit Ray. I had a hard time picking out three films from a thousand others. My original intention had been to see some of World Cinema, that is, non American and non Indian films. But that changed when I stumbled upon NFDC’s profile. Here, was a stash of treasures from the Parallel Cinema movement of the 80s. Treasures that are impossible to find. This is what NFDC has to say about itself (on Jaman):

“National Film Development Corporation of India and its predecessor, the Film Finance Corporation, have funded or produced over 300 films in various Indian languages that have won acclaim and awards in India and worldwide.

The NFDC movies include work from the country’s top directors, including films from Satyajit Ray, the master director who brought Indian cinema to world recognition and won an Academy Award for lifetime achievement in 1992. Many are only on Jaman and are not available on DVD or VHS.

(bolds mine)

December 29, 2007 at 9:27 pm 2 comments

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