Browsing All Posts filed under »Film Festivals«

Hasyam: Jayaraj fashions a comic masterpiece that revolves around death

March 22, 2021

3 This is a very funny film, and the “humour” rests on a couple of existential questions. One is that life is absurd. We have to laugh if we want to get through it. Spoilers ahead… The amusingly named Japan (Harisree Ashokan) has a very matter-of-fact approach to death. In an early scene, he says […]

Céline Sciamma, Jacqueline Lentzou, and the other women with films at the Berlinale

March 6, 2021

0 Five of the eighteen titles that will compete for the Golden Bear, are directed or co-directed by women. A look at ‘Petite Maman’, ‘Moon, 66 Questions’, ‘Ballad of a White Cow’. Spoilers ahead… I’ll begin with a shout-out to the web site It was founded in 2007, and it “educates, advocates, and agitates […]

Luiz Bolognesi’s ‘The Last Forest’, playing at the Berlinale, takes us to the Yanomami tribe in the Amazon basin

March 5, 2021

0 This is a record of a rapidly vanishing home. In 1986, the discovery of gold deposits led to an invasion by 45000 prospectors and the death of 1500-1800 natives. Spoilers ahead… In Ex Pajé (2018), filmmaker and anthropologist Luiz Bolognesi captured the spirit, the essence, the modern-day conflicts of the Paiter Suruí, an indigenous […]

Hong Sangsoo’s ‘Introduction’ is at once wispy and profound, like eavesdropping on the universe

March 5, 2021

0 Plus, the boarding-school mystery, ‘Brother’s Keeper’. And the marvellously titled ‘Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn’. Spoilers ahead… In the opening scene of Hong Sangsoo’s Introduction, a man is praying. He says he will do anything. He will give up half his wealth, give it to an orphanage even, if God gives him one […]

Kuthiraivaal, directed by Manoj Jahson and Shyam Sunder: A surreal experience about the multiple selves we inhabit, with Kalaiyarasan and Anjali Patil

March 4, 2021

0 This Pa Ranjith production, being screened at the Berlin Critics’ Week, is too literal. It’s also a fascinating attempt to put psychoanalytic theory on film. Spoilers ahead… In Kafka’s Metamorphosis, a man wakes up to find that he’s transformed into a giant bug. There are echoes of this classic story in Kuthiraivaal, a Pa […]

Berlinale Talents participant Tathagata Ghosh: ‘Through my films I try to freeze the rapidly changing corners of rural Bengal’

March 3, 2021

0 113 women, 84 men and 8 who preferred to not state their gender — 205 film professionals in all, from 65 countries — have been chosen for Berlinale Talents. An interview with Tathagata Ghosh from Kolkata, one of the nine Indian talents selected for the programme. Spoilers ahead… Tathagata Ghosh, director and screenwriter, gained […]

Berlinale 2021: Ted K tells the story of the Unabomber as a demented eco-activist

March 3, 2021

0 If someone told you what ‘Taste’ was about, you may think of Zakariya Mohammed’s ‘Sudani from Nigeria’: a footballer from the African nation ends up in Asia… Spoilers ahead… While watching Tony Stone’s Ted K – as in, Ted Kaczynski, as in, the Unabomber (played by an excellent Sharlto Copley) – I kept thinking […]

Berlinale 2021: A lament for a lost festival experience

March 1, 2021

1 Cannes has the Riviera and Venice has the water scooters. But Berlin has the cold that someone from Chennai so desperately craves. Spoilers ahead… A fter that rather dramatic headline, let me clarify that the lament is not about Berlinale 2021 going online. The pandemic has opened up something akin to what social media […]

Dekel Berenson’s superb short film ‘Anna’ sheds light on the “love tours” industry in Ukraine

February 27, 2021

0 This 15-minute film is about: meat. Rather, women treated as meat, ready to be picked up by American men who want someone to cook and clean. Spoilers ahead… The first scene of Anna, a 2019 short film written and directed by Dekel Berenson, is about two people inside a meat fridge. One’s a man, a […]

Nilanadukkam, by Balaji Vembu Chelli: A fascinatingly original take on our scoop-addicted media era

February 27, 2021

0 The hallucinatory film has its India premiere at the Arthouse Asia Film Festival in Kolkata.  The earthquake of the title is both a metaphor as well as an actual calamity. Spoilers ahead… Nilanadukkam! An earthquake! How sensational the term sounds! What a scoop it could be for a journalist who happens to be in […]

Seththumaan: Thamizh makes an impressive directorial debut with a quietly shattering drama, produced by Pa Ranjith

February 16, 2021

0 The nuanced writing in ‘Seththumaan’ (meaning “pig”, like the title of Nagraj Manjule’s ‘Fandry’) weaves in a lot, from Ramnath Kovind to the caste-politics of food. Spoilers ahead… The time is 2017. The place is a village in western Tamil Nadu. Through newspapers and radio, a victorious and empowering Dalit story plays out: the […]

Don Palathara’s fascinating Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam, with Rima Kallingal and Jitin Puthanchery, is both familiar and new

February 13, 2021

0 This time, we have a “plot”, and characters who talk a lot. But the aesthetic is as rigorous as in the director’s earlier work. The camera, for instance, is “locked in” throughout Spoilers ahead… When speaking of a filmmaker as distinctive as Don Palathara, the latest work becomes a part of a continuum — […]

Uberto Pasolini’s ‘Nowhere Special’ is having its Indian premiere at the International Film Festival of Kerala

February 13, 2021

1 This tale of a dying father trying to get his little boy adopted is moving without being melodramatic. Spoilers ahead… At some level, John (James Norton) is the bestest dad ever. That’s what his four-year-old, Michael (Daniel Lamont), might say. John combs Michael’s hair for lice. John reads Michael a bedtime story, very patiently, […]

Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Churuli makes us walk the tightrope between mind-blown and mind-fucked

February 12, 2021

3 Usually films come full-circle. But here, it’s like a hypnotist’s wheel. From the centre-point of the inciting incident, the narrative (and your head) spins further and further away into an unending whirlpool. Spoilers ahead… The one thing you can say for sure about Lijo Jose Pellissery: he doesn’t do ordinary. The closest he came […]

Senna Hegde’s winning Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam, with Manoj KU and Ajisha Prabhakaran

February 11, 2021

0 This beautifully written and acted film exists in a zone between a broad Priyadarshan entertainer and the nuanced New Age Malayalam dramedy. Spoilers ahead… Based on the two films I’ve seen, the broad beats of Senna Hegde’s cinema are quite… broad. The director’s second film, Katheyondu Shuruvagide (in Kannada) was about a US-returned yuppie […]

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, […]

Indranil Roychowdhury’s moving, minimalistic Mayar Jonjal (Debris of Desire), with Ritwick Chakraborty, Aupee Karim, Chandrayee Ghosh, Sohel Mondol

February 9, 2021

1 In this drama playing at the International Film Festival of Kerala, the women aren’t afraid of hard work. The men, on the other hand, are losers. Spoilers ahead… Indranil Roychowdhury’s Mayar Jonjal (the international title is Debris of Desire) opens with the sight of a powerful man called Joga da (Joydeep Mukherjee). So powerful […]

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: PS Vinothraj makes a stunning debut with Koozhangal (Pebbles), a father-son ‘road movie’

February 4, 2021

10 Despite the many tragedies in the scenario (both natural and man-made), the film doesn’t beg for our sympathies. Only at the very end do we feel a twinge. Spoilers ahead… Almost a year ago, director Ram called me to watch a movie by a new filmmaker. I went without expecting much, but what I […]