Browsing All Posts filed under »Firstpost Column«

Vittorio De Sica’s Italian classic Shoeshine shows rare instance when children slip into adulthood too soon

March 26, 2020


Though there is a “story” and a “screenplay” that’s been worked out, these scaffoldings of “narrative cinema” are near-invisible. The protagonists don’t seem guided by a screenwriter so much as destiny. I’ve always wondered about the title of Vittorio De Sica’s Shoeshine (1946). Yes, it is about two boys who earn a living by shining […]

Kim Ki-duk’s animal (and human) torture in provocative films like ‘Moebius’ and ‘Pietà”

March 20, 2020


Why does Medea kill her children? Why does the mother in ‘Moebius’ castrate her son? It is fascinating to ponder on these situations through the medium of cinema, which offers us the safety of distance… In the small pool of filmmakers known for being provocative, Kim Ki-duk is the oddest of ducks. I first encountered […]

The fascinating ‘Stella Dallas’ was screened as part of the King Vidor retrospective at the Berlinale

March 12, 2020


The beauty of this film lies in how marvellously grey Stella is. Just as you pin her down as one thing, she shows another (unexpected) side. In Stella Dallas (1937), Barbra Stanwyck plays the titular character, the daughter of a millworker who wants more from life. As the film opens — the year is 1919 […]

Fellini’s ‘The Swindle’, part of Berlinale Classics, brings to fore the filmmaker’s deeply Catholic concerns

March 5, 2020


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: One of the odder casting decisions in film history is Broderick Crawford in Federico Fellini’s Il bidone (The Swindle). How does one explain the presence of this blustery American, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor in All the King’s Men (1949), playing an Italian in […]

‘Cruel Tale of Bushido’, 1963 Golden Bear winner and part of Berlinale Classics, debunks the samurai mythos

February 27, 2020


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: The 70th anniversary of the Berlin Film Festival coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Tokyo Film Distribution Company, now known as Toei. It is one of Japan’s Big Four film studios, the others being Shochiku, Kadokawa and Toho. (The latter is better known as the home […]

The wonderfully eccentric Swedish director Roy Andersson is part of a series of conversations between filmmakers at the Berlinale

February 20, 2020


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: It’s always special when filmmakers speak with filmmakers. Two of my favourite books on cinema are François Truffaut’s interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, and Cameron Crowe’s interviews with Billy Wilder. Sometimes, the questions appear basic, as when Crowe asks: “Who wrote the last line in The Apartment — […]

‘Distant Journey’, part of Berlinale Classics, is one of the first films to depict the horrors of the Holocaust

February 14, 2020


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: A couple of weeks ago, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I wrote about Claude Lanzmann’s marathon French documentary, Shoah (1985). A few days from now, at the Berlin Film Festival, a different kind of Holocaust film will be featured: Distant Journey, by Alfréd Radok. This one’s in […]

With so many psychos in theatres, a look at Fatih Akin’s ‘The Golden Glove’, which premiered at Berlinale 2019

February 6, 2020


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: This is the season of serial killers. In Tamil, we have Mysskin’s Psycho, where women are beheaded and their headless corpses – clad only in underwear – are put out on display for the public. In Malayalam, we have Midhun Manuel Thomas’ Anjaam Pathiraa, where cops are […]

On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, looking back at Claude Lanzmann’s ‘Shoah’

January 27, 2020


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: Have you heard the term “death panic”? Try Googling it up. You’ll get sites that describe it as a pathological fear of death. You’ll get a link to a game called Darkest Dungeon – something about killed by monsters in a dingy crypt. There’s even a link […]

The aesthetics of Pedro Costa, whose ‘Vitalina Varela’ will be screened at the Sundance Film Festival

January 23, 2020


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: “I finally watched a Pedro Costa on the big screen” is a real thing for some film lovers. This happened to me last year at the Dharamsala International Film Festival, where I saw the Portuguese auteur’s latest film, Vitalina Varela. (It was also screened at the JIO […]

Almodóvar’s Oscar-nominated ‘Pain and Glory’ looks a lot like autobiography, but then, so does ‘Bad Education’

January 16, 2020


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: In the face of the Parasite juggernaut, no one, realistically, gives Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory a chance at winning the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. But I’m glad it’s up there in the list, and I’m glad Antonio Banderas has also been nominated for his […]

Revisiting ‘Memories of Murder’, which put the Golden Globe-winning ‘Parasite’ director, Bong Joon-ho, on the map

January 9, 2020


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: It’s practically a crime to have to choose one of the following films as the Best Foreign Film of the year: Parasite, Les Misérables, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and Pain and Glory. I’m talking about the Golden Globes, of course, where the fifth nominee was […]

Lulu Wang’s Golden Globe-nominated ‘The Farewell’ will ring many bells for those of us trapped between two cultures

January 4, 2020


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: In Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet, a Caucasian/Chinese gay couple in Manhattan pretends to be straight for the benefit of the parents of the Chinese man, who are visiting. Lulu Wang’s The Farewell is a sort of spiritual successor, and it travels in the other direction of […]

The rousing ‘1987: When the Day Comes’ is the perfect political mirror for this season of activism and protest

December 26, 2019


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: As I write this, a German student has been asked to leave India after attending a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He’d carried a poster that made a reference to the Nazi rule in his own country: “1933 to […]

Remembering Anna Karina in one of her most notable non-Godard films, Jacques Rivette’s ‘The Nun’

December 19, 2019


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: Anna Karina died last Saturday. That the star was most famous for her work with one particular French New Wave filmmaker was evident from the obituaries. Here’s Agence France-Presse: “Karina was best known for the string of films she made with Jean-Luc Godard, including A Woman Is […]

Arturo Ripstein’s ‘Devil Between the Legs’, screened at IFFI, deals subversively with sex and jealously and aging

December 12, 2019


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: In 1975, when Chantal Akerman came out with Jeanne Dielman 23, quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, some viewers were perplexed. Why was the filmmaker devoting so much time to the protagonist cleaning the kitchen or peeling potatoes, when there is more sensational stuff to show – like […]

‘Queen of Hearts’, Denmark’s Oscar submission that played at IFFI, is a cold take on incest and shattered lives

December 5, 2019


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: Like Section 375, Queen of Hearts – which played at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), and is the Danish submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar – toys with a provocative question: What if a man is the victim? Anne (Trine Dyrholm) is the most […]

‘Head Burst’, which had its Asian premiere at IFFI, is a sympathetic look at the plight of a paedophile

November 28, 2019


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: Looking at Markus — the protagonist of Savas Ceviz’s Head Burst (Kopfplatzen in German) — you’d think he’s a nice, normal guy. One day, entering the building he lives in, he sees a woman, Jessica, struggling with some boxes. She’s moving into an apartment near his, and he […]

‘The Piano Teacher’ may be the definitive movie of Isabelle Huppert, recipient of IFFI’s Lifetime Achievement Award

November 21, 2019


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: At Cannes, this year, I caught the new Ira Sachs film, Frankie. It has Isabelle Huppert in the titular role, and she opens the movie by taking her swimsuit top off at the pool of a resort and diving in. Her disapproving step-granddaughter (it’s  a complicated family […]

Kazuhiro Soda and his Ten Commandments of documentary-making, at Dharamsala International Film Festival

November 14, 2019


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: One of the masterclasses at this year’s Dharamsala International Film Festival was by the Japanese documentary filmmaker and author, Kazuhiro Soda. He broke through on the international festival circuit with his debut, Campaign (2007), which followed the election campaign — in Kawasaki, Japan — of a candidate […]