The Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta)

US Presidential hopefuls take RVs, Che went on a motorcycle. The point is you need to go on a road trip to become a successful leader of the people

Ee Adutha Kalathu (Recently)

Strange and familiar make an appearance together for the first time in Malayalam cinema and the pair is a hit

Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl

Four feisty ladies, upbeat music and a handsome conman. Anushka gets Ranveer. Bollywood gets Parineeti

Das Boot (The Boat)

Best WWII film ever, in fact the best war film ever. In true German fashion, restraint is applied by shooting the entire movie inside a U-boat

Neelathamara (Blue Lotus)

Blue lotus shares the same stature of blue moon in Malayalam, so do good remakes. This one bucks the trend.

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Sep 26, 2006

Malayalam: Avalude Ravukal

Avalude Ravukal is Seema's first movie, directed by I.V.Sasi, who'd go on to marry the actress later in real life. This movie had achieved a lot of notoriety with cinema hall owners inserting sleazy porn bits and selling it as a soft porn movie. This film has totally changed my perceptions about I.V.Sasi as a director. Shot in his favorite city, Kozhikode, it is indeed a brave venture with Seema playing the title character who is a prostitute. Her nights(this is the English translation of the movie title) and the men she comes across are the major characters in the movie. Sukumaran, Soman and Ravi Kumar have important roles.
(Pic: Seema and Ravi Kumar in Avalude Ravukal)

Seema looks and acts really well. The legend has it that she was spotted as an extra and it was I.V.Sasi who made her a major actress. Avalude Ravukal also has Meena, Kuthiravattam Pappu, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Bahadur and Mallika(Sukumaran's real life wife and mother of present day actors PrithviRaj and Indrajit) as the supporting cast. A narrative social commentary from the perspective of a teenage prostitute in the late seventies in Kerala, Avalude Ravukal is a classic trend setter.

Sep 18, 2006

AIFF 2006: Heaven's Doors

In a time when many young men in Islamic countries are trading their lives for houris(beautiful virgins) who'll be waiting for them beyond heaven's doors, it's refreshing to see a film from a Muslim country(Morocco) promoting the allegory of mother(or the respect for her) as heaven's door.

Three stories with an overlapping story-line yet distinct characters and narratives. Gritty, fast paced flick with lot of hand-held camera action, typical of new young directors from strife-torn regions across the world.

The first story captures the angst of urban youth trapped between proverty and unemployment where the central character becomes a ganster to provide better for his mother and sister. The second story portrays a childless widow of a Moroccan man - an American woman who's given a chance to look after her nephew when the boy's own parents perish in an accident only to have him taken away from her when her maternal instincts are awakened. The third story is about a man who has spent the better half of his life in prison with his only contact with the world being his mother. But his mother dies soon after he's released. In a film that powers forward through the city of Casablanca fueled on revenge and struggles for survival, mother emerges as the door everyone is searching for.

Sep 17, 2006

AIFF 2006: Animales Heridos

A montage of relationships, the film weaves together three stories through three pairs of characters. First one documents the end of an affair between two high society lovers. The beautiful Catalan city of Barcelona and its nearby beaches sets the stage for all the three stories. In addition to the common geographical frame, the main characters in one story are presented fleetingly in the other stories as well since they are all loosely bound through different situations.

The second story is about living someone else's life(reality TV-style?) and the third one captures a dying marriage and the final flight from the relationship. A witty and informative voice-over splices through the scenes. On a whole, although the movie deals with the complexity of human relationships, it exudes a light and airy quality combined with the vitality of picteresque Catalonia.

Sep 16, 2006

AIFF 2006: Viva Cuba

Viva Cuba is a magical roadtrip undertaken by two eleven year olds - a girl and a boy, a journey that unfolds against the vibrant and colorful backdrop of Cuba. The film starts in the urban alleys of Havana with its grand and decadent architecture and Communist posters as the two protagonists enjoy a blissful childhood friendship despite their class differences (the boy comes from a family that proclaims to welcome Fidel with open arms, wheras the girl's family declares their love for religion.) When the girl's mother announces her intentions to move from Cuba, the two friends flee their impending separation and their quarreling families in search of her estranged father who'll help her stay on in Cuba. What follows is a modern day fairytale, much akin to the Wizard of Oz, peppered with characters similar to the wicked witch, helpful Samaritan and incredible landscapes. A perfectly PG film from director Juan Carlos Cremata, with great performances from the child artists.

Sep 1, 2006

AIFF 2006

Anchorage International Film Festival 2006 reviews have started in earnest. Being a new mom and all I've certain concessions, I don't have to review as many movies as I did last time and I don't think I'd be attending any parties or public screenings. I've three movies to screen this week - two latin american ones and one from UK.

I think watching movies is ok even with an infant in tow, it is shooting hundreds of emails to film makers and film related organizations in various countries which takes a toll on your time. But this time around it seems like AIFF has arrived as a film festival to reckon with or it could be the festival director is working overtime, whatever it is this time around we have got a loads of international entries. Off I go to the screening room a.k.a my living room