All about Berlinale

Long queues, freezing air, bad palak paneer… here I am, pretending that covering Berlinale 2015 is cruel work. The first couple of days about a film festival, you realise, aren’t about the film festival. At least, not entirely. They’re about being in a new city, about the relief that most people here speak English; about remembering which section of the part-paved-part-cobbled footpath is for walking … Continue reading All about Berlinale

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Berlin Diary: The heat is on

Holmes is older. Mainstream sex becomes bolder. And Peter Greenaway blasts the cobwebs off biopic conventions. After a lot of earnest, well-intentioned, even well-made films, there was still the sense that there has been nothing yet that really shook you, shocked you. That probably explained the crowds at the screening of the new Peter Greenaway film, Eisenstein in Guanajuato. The faith wasn’t misplaced. Had Hollywood … Continue reading Berlin Diary: The heat is on

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Berlin Diary: Ice cream, cheesecake…

All good things, including film festivals, must come to an end. Midway through the festival, I decided I hadn’t seen much Asian cinema. I missed Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dhanak, thinking that I’ll get to see it back home anyway. (A friend who was at the screening said the response was rapturous.) The in-competition Chinese film Gone With the Bullets didn’t interest me much – I’m sure … Continue reading Berlin Diary: Ice cream, cheesecake…

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Berlin Diary: Franco-philia

When does James Franco sleep? That question isn’t likely to be answered soon, given the number of films he has at the Berlinale. James Franco spreads himself so thin that for every film he bombs out in, like Herzog’s Queen of the Desert, the law of averages practically guarantees something better somewhere else. We get that revelatory performance in Justin Kelly’s I Am Michael, which … Continue reading Berlin Diary: Franco-philia

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Berlin Diary: Art from the other America

Two affecting and very “local” films, from Guatemala and Chile. In an early scene in the Guatemalan feature Ixcanul, directed by first-timer Jayro Bustamante, a peasant family living in an outback is visited by the family of the man who’s to marry their daughter Maria. The groom-to-be, during the lavish feast laid out in his honour, says he’s going to the city. That seems to … Continue reading Berlin Diary: Art from the other America

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Berlin Diary: Red, white and blue

Thoughts on the festival’s tribute to Technicolor films, mainly from Hollywood. It’s strange in this internet-booking era to find oneself queuing up for a film. It’s stranger still when the film isn’t new, or when it’s the kind that hardly anyone sees, save for committed (and, yes, should-be-committed) cinephiles. But long lines are a regular feature at the Berlinale. There are long lines for press … Continue reading Berlin Diary: Red, white and blue

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Berlin Diary: Lost in translation

On Terrence Malick’s new movie, which is very much in the vein of his recent work. Knight of Cups, Terrence Malick’s latest head-scratcher movie, starring Christian Bale, features an earthquake, a temperamental sibling, an emotional ex-wife (Cate Blanchett), several dalliances (including one with Freida Pinto, who sticks her toes into Bale’s mouth), a hold-up in an apartment – it’s the stuff of high drama, but … Continue reading Berlin Diary: Lost in translation

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Berlin Diary: Birds of a feather

Other journalists. Plus, a needless update of material that was much better served by Buñuel. Jabba the Hutt. Princess Leia. These aren’t names you expect to hear at a film festival. And yet, here this man was, one seat away from me at the screening of Isabel Coixet’s Nobody Wants the Night, talking about… I don’t know. He was speaking German to the woman seated … Continue reading Berlin Diary: Birds of a feather

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Berlin Diary: Love across continents, and over time

Herzog disappoints. Plus, an excellent character study about a long-married couple. The next time we begin to accuse an Indian filmmaker of choosing stars who command press attention rather than actors who’d actually vanish into the part, we should remember that well-regarded foreign filmmakers do this all the time, sometimes to the detriment of their films. Isabel Coixet’s Nobody Wants the Night features Juliette Binoche … Continue reading Berlin Diary: Love across continents, and over time

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Berlin Diary: Two women

The opening-night movie was hardly what you’d call a “festival film,” but one couldn’t write it off either. The press screenings at the Berlinale are special affairs. They are scheduled before the world premiere of the films in competition, which means we are literally the first audience for these films. I’m going to keep this thought in mind the next time I have to slave … Continue reading Berlin Diary: Two women

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Berlin Diary: The jury has spoken

Film watching is subjective, and the Berlinale jury just emphasised that. At a press conference on the first day of the 65th Berlinale, jury president Darren Aronofsky strongly underlined the subjective nature of movie-watching. A critic in the audience asked if the jury – which includes German actor Daniel Brühl, French star Audrey Tautou, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho, Peruvian … Continue reading Berlin Diary: The jury has spoken

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Lights, Camera, Conversation… “A ticket to Bizarro World”

Notes from a random day at the 12th Chennai International Film Festival. Under normal circumstances, this would have given me an aneurysm. I walked into a film a couple of minutes late. If that wasn’t bad enough, I did not know the name of the film. I know you think I’m being overdramatic with all that italicising, but this is me we’re talking about, someone … Continue reading Lights, Camera, Conversation… “A ticket to Bizarro World”

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Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Hell on screen”

Thoughts on the violence in ‘12 Years a Slave’ versus ‘Lacombe Lucien,’ which was co-written by this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. I wanted to write about Louis Malle’s Lacombe Lucien when I saw 12 Years a Slave. The brutality depicted in the latter film bothered me, and it took me back to the question I keep asking whenever I see sex … Continue reading Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Hell on screen”

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Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The hunt for other cinema”

Scattered thoughts on foreign films. Plus, the disturbing ‘Jagten,’ a ‘child sex abuse’ movie that isn’t really about child sex abuse. I wanted to write about one of the better foreign films I’ve seen this year – Thomas Vinterberg’s Danish film Jagten (The Hunt) – but first I thought I should write about our relationship with foreign cinema, namely non-Hollywood, non-English cinema. Once upon a … Continue reading Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The hunt for other cinema”

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Seeking unity in diversity

In a country as diverse as ours, how do we prevent the ghettoisation of the regional film industries? Subtitles could be a start… When an Elizabeth Taylor or a Paul Newman dies, all of America grieves. One reason, of course, is that these stars belonged to a time when we had to go to the movies, like devotees seeking a darshan. They could only be glimpsed on big … Continue reading Seeking unity in diversity

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Lights, Camera, Conversation… “A separation of audiences?”

Movies for everyone versus movies for a few. Notes from the recently concluded Mumbai International Film Festival. Why do people laugh in the movies? The obvious answer is that they find something funny,  and mainstream cinema – even given that rarely do two people respond to a movie the same way – sometimes manages to work over audiences as one. We cry as one, we … Continue reading Lights, Camera, Conversation… “A separation of audiences?”

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Lights, Camera, Conversation… “And the Oscar doesn’t go to…”

Some thoughts on cricket and baseball and the movies we send out for Best Foreign Film consideration. So the powers that be chose The Good Road over The Lunchbox, and Twitter exploded. I thought, first, that this was an overreaction. (Then again, what’s Twitter for if not overreacting?) After all, isn’t this the same system that decided, one year, that Jeans stood a chance? (Even … Continue reading Lights, Camera, Conversation… “And the Oscar doesn’t go to…”

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Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Through a prism, differently”

Among the great pleasures of pop culture is the viewing of cinema through the skewed eyes of someone else. Bill Condon, the director of Gods and Monsters, Kinsey and Dreamgirls remembers his reaction to certain scenes in Bonnie and Clyde. “There was something about [the film] that I think I connected to at a very, very basic level… There’s a whole sexual tension there that I think was speaking to me … Continue reading Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Through a prism, differently”

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Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The rules of performance appraisal”

There’s a reason there’s been so much talk about Dhanush recently, and it’s not just that he’s had back-to-back releases. I know, I know, not another piece on Dhanush and Raanjhanaa and Maryan. But I feel compelled to put down some thoughts after a longtime reader, on my blog, wondered why I have discussed Dhanush’s performance in these films in such detail. He added, “Also … Continue reading Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The rules of performance appraisal”

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Lights, Camera, Conversation… “A lover in another language”

Thoughts from re-watching a Hindi hit in Tamil, and the inevitable issue of (and issues with) dubbing. The first viewing of a film is so spent on who the people are and what they do and how the plot thickens and how it all ends that the little oddities escape our eyes, the details that exist beyond who did what to whom. When I watched Raanjhanaa again … Continue reading Lights, Camera, Conversation… “A lover in another language”

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