Browsing All Posts filed under »Cinema: Foreign«

The 25th International Film Festival of Kerala: “The heart of the festival is Malayalam cinema”

February 16, 2021

2 It takes a village to put together a film festival, but when it comes to the films themselves, the proof is in the programming. Bina Paul, Artistic Director of the International Film Festival of Kerala, talks about pulling off a live festival in these virtual times. Congratulations on pulling off two big premieres, with […]

Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu is out of the Oscar race, but it was always a long shot

February 10, 2021

17 The only way to hope for a shot at the Academy Awards is to make India matter in the eyes of Uncle Oscar as a “country that makes good movies”. As always, there was this dim hope that we’d make it to the shortlist, at least. After all, we’d picked a really deserving film, […]

Rotterdam 2021: The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet, A Corsican Summer, and Charlotte Gainsbourg in Suzanne Andler

February 6, 2021

0 Charlotte Gainsbourg captures both the “First World Problem”-ness of her situation as well as the genuine quandary a married woman finds herself in. Spoilers ahead… In her acclaimed novel, Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf described a single day in the life of her titular protagonist. In his new movie, Suzanna Andler, Benoît Jacquot describes a […]

Rotterdam 2021: ‘Dear Comrades!’, Andrei Konchalovsky’s record of the Novocherkassk massacre

February 6, 2021

0 The movie is based on a true story that happened on June 2nd, 1962, and kept secret until the Nineties. Culprits have never been convicted. Spoilers ahead… Andrei Konchalovsky has had one of the odder careers in world cinema. He began by writing a couple of Tarkovsky classics (Ivan’s Childhood, Andrei Rublev) in the […]

Rotterdam 2021: Talking automobiles in King Car, spreading HIV in Feast

February 4, 2021

0 Our ancestors tried to amplify the body’s ability by using a rock to split open a seed. The “tool”, therefore, was not just a rock – it was an extension of the body. Spoilers ahead… The Rotterdam Film Festival has a reputation for programming fascinating oddball fare, and Renata Pinheiro’s King Car (Portuguese) is […]

Rotterdam 2021: Reimagining Joseph Conrad in Lone Wolf, exploring motherhood in Aurora

February 3, 2021

0 The fact that almost all the primary characters are seen through video footage becomes a distancing device, which is probably intentional. But it also makes it hard to invest in the stakes. Spoilers ahead… Jonathan Ogilvie’s Lone Wolf is based on The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. The outline is the same. The characters […]

Rotterdam 2021: Riders of Justice, with Mads Mikkelsen, is a philosophical revenge thriller

February 2, 2021

4 And yes, digital versions of film festivals are another reminder that all the ‘convenience’ in the world can’t make up for the theatrical experience. Spoilers ahead… Earlier this week, I was in conversation with Indranil Roychowdhury, who is doing the festival rounds with his Indo-Bangladeshi co-production, Mayar Jonjal (Debris of Desire). The film – […]

Dea Kulumbegashvili’s Beginning, on mubi, studies a suffering woman with a static camera

January 29, 2021

2 When we talk of single-take shots, we think back to “how did they do that?” marvels like Martin Scorsese’s nightclub-entry shot in Good Fellas. It’s different here. Spoilers ahead… Some films, like Blue is the Warmest Colour or The Brown Bunny, become notorious for sex scenes. Some films, like Irréversible, becoming controversial talking points […]

Massoud Bakhshi’s ‘Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness’, which screened at IFFI, is an “eye for an eye” drama set in a TV studio

January 23, 2021

0 The premise of this Iranian drama is almost farcical. A matter of life and death is being decided on a reality show with a garishly lit set. Spoilers ahead… The International Film Festival of India went virtual this year. One of the films I watched is Massoud Bakhshi’s Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness (2019). […]

Mads Matthiesen’s Sundance-winner ‘Teddy Bear’, now on mubi, is a gently told male-emancipation story

January 16, 2021

1 Despite the “finding love” premise, this is not a rom-com. It’s more about a man trying to break free of psychological shackles, both self-imposed and mother-instilled. Spoilers ahead… The first image of Mads Matthiesen’s Danish short film, Dennis (2007), is that of a big man, a really big man, a hulk of a man […]

Pradeepan Raveendran’s ‘Soundless Dance’ dives into the war-torn mind of a Sri Lankan Tamil in Paris

January 7, 2021

0 The director stages war as a sort of terrible virtual-reality “game”, if you will. Or maybe you could consider it a “performance” of some kind. Spoilers ahead… Pradeepan Raveendran was born in Jaffna, and he now lives in Paris. You might say he identifies with Siva (Patrick Balaraj Yogarajan), the protagonist of his debut […]

Ekwa Msangi’s ‘Farewell Amor’ is an immigrant drama about coming to terms with a father/husband who’s now a stranger

December 19, 2020

3 The protagonist’s situation is not very different from that of the Indians who go to the Gulf to work. They don’t have a “family life”, as such. It’s the waiting area at John F Kennedy International Airport, and our eyes are drawn to a man holding a white name card. There are others, of […]

Readers Write In #314: Kim Ki-duk’s Kerala connection is one of the strangest things Indian cinema has witnessed

December 16, 2020


(by Alex John) Something unprecedented happened at the IFFK in 2013, which was held in the capital city of Kerala. An art movie maker who was largely obscure in his own country got literally stunned by the movie-star welcome the crowd gave him; to an extent that he said it was the most memorable experience […]

Maurice Pialat’s ‘The Mouth Agape’ looks at death in the eye without sentimentality or embellishment

December 12, 2020

1 Pialat is asking: “Why should I — and by extension, my characters — be kind to Monique? Just because she is dying? But people die all the time, don’t they?” What is death? To the dying, it’s the end of a protracted period of physical pain and mental agony. To the people around, it’s […]

Hannes Stöhr’s ‘Berlin is in Germany’ is about a former ‘East German’ adjusting to life in a unified nation

December 5, 2020

0 Martin was imprisoned before the fall of the Wall. When he is released in 2001, everything has changed. Mr. Brooks is perhaps modern cinema’s most well-known instance of a prisoner attempting to rebuild a life after release. The character appears in The Shawshank Redemption (1994). He’s an old man when he gets out. He’s […]

Jan Komasa’s ‘The Hater’, on Netflix, is a quietly chilling story about the virtual world’s revenge on the real world

November 28, 2020

0 Way back in 1999, ‘The Matrix’ felt like sci-fi fantasy. But today, the machines are indeed shaping us, controlling us, brainwashing us. We are all living in the Matrix. In 2010, Polish filmmaker Jan Komasa forayed into the virtual world with Suicide Room. The title refers to a chat room for people with suicidal […]

Soorarai Pottru, The Motorcycle Diaries, and the truth-versus-fiction issue in biopics

November 21, 2020

35 If you want the “truth” about Captain Gopinath or Che Guevara, go read books about them, or go watch documentaries. Soorarai Pottru — the “loosely inspired by” biopic of Air Deccan founder Captain GR Gopinath  — is the season’s hottest, most talked-about film, so let’s talk about a biopic about another socialist hero from […]

Readers Write In #300: Karma Yoga and Jean-Pierre Melville

November 16, 2020


(by Kartik Iyer) Vivekananda writes, “Work, but let not the action or the thought produce a deep impression on the mind”. He continues, “Therefore, be ‘unattached’; let things work; let brain centres work; work incessantly, but not let a ripple conquer the mind. Work as if you were a stranger in this land, a sojourner; […]

Sophia Loren transformed from glam star to great actor in Vittorio De Sica’s ‘Two Women’

November 15, 2020

2 You could say the reason glamorous stars de-glam themselves is because, otherwise, nobody takes them seriously. It’s only when Sophia Loren plays a working mother that we sit up and say, “Oh wow, what a performance!” It’s Rome. It’s World War II. The film is Vittorio De Sica’s Two Women. Cesira (Sophia Loren) runs […]

Fernanda Valadez’s ‘Identifying Features’, playing at Dharamsala, is a poignant drama about would-be illegal migrants

November 7, 2020

0 This is neither about the issue (would-be illegal immigrants) nor the mystery (what happened to the protagonist’s son who tried to cross over from Mexico to the US?). It’s more about a mother… When you think of illegal (would-be) immigrants crossing over, you think of barbed-wire fences, helicopters throwing spotlights on the ground, difficult […]