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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Jul 31, 2009

Crazy Gopalan

Dileep in a new film, but the same old avatar. Street smart thief with a penchant for humor turned out to be a winning formula at the box-office for Dileep with the stupendous success of Meesha Madhavan. In Crazy Gopalan, the village burglar turns a tad high-tech, oxyacetylene torches and ultra sensitive speakers get involved. Salim Kumar plays Dileep's even more comic side-kick who has a sob-story to match the hero's as to how he got into the 'stealing' business.

Radha Varma is the new-comer heroine in director Dipu's version of modern Meesha Madhavan who goes by the name of Kattila Gopalan in rural circles and as Crazy Gopalan when he turns urban. Manoj K.Jayan is the suave suited villain who is also heroine's elder brother, albeit adopted. Dileep's and to some extent Salim Kumar's comic timing is impeccable and that should keep the movie afloat.

Jul 30, 2009

A Streetcar Named Desire

A part of movie re-education series. I am trying to watch older movies before VHS tapes become totally extinct. Not that these movies are not available on DVD, but our library has a huge collection of older movies on tapes and I believe free resources shouldn't go to waste.

Tennesse Williams play about a Southern belle Blanche Dubois, turned into an award winning 1951 by Elia Kazan, A Streetcar Named Desire is a study in human relationships and emotions. As a viewer I can only sympathize with 'southern belles' only so much, so my loyalties rest with the handsome Marlon Brando(as Stanley Kowalski), who Blanche(played by Vivien Leigh) calls a crude Pollack(her misinterpretation of Pole.) It was the first film to win three acting Oscars - Best Actress of Vivien Leigh, Best Supporting Actress for Kim Hunter and Best Supporting Actor for Karl Malden.

Some trivia: Kowalski (feminine: Kowalska, plural Kowalscy) is the second most common surname in Poland. Kowalski translates to blacksmith where it is the patronymic form of the name for Smith

Jul 7, 2009

Naalu Pennungal

Naalu Pennungal or Four Women or Four Ladies or Four Females of the Human kind however you want to translate it is one of the recent offerings from renowned Malayalam film maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Adoor Gopalakrishnan and G.Aravindan were the stalwarts of parallel cinema(we used to call these 'award padams') in Malayalam during the last three decades of the last century.

It is good to see Adoor still going strong. His 'award padams' were the easier to digest of the lot. Naalu Pennungal, carries forward that tradition of bearable intellectualism. Infact I did hear that the film ran in packed houses in Kerala which is a notable achievement for a parallel/alternative/indie Malayalam film. Adoor himself confesses that Naalu Pennungal is not complex like his other films.

The process in which this movie was made could be deconstructed thus: Adoor selected four female oriented stories from Thakazhy Sivasankara Pillai's(Jnanpith winner) short stories. Padmapriya, Geethu Mohandas, Manju Pillai and Nandita Das were given lead roles in each one. He made the cinematographer set a really shallow depth of field which ensured any element in the landscape which might have dated or showed an intrusion of modernity(say an internet cafe near boat jetty) in the film was made permanently out of focus. The writer being Thakazhi and the director being Adoor ensured that film would be set in the scenic locales of the Venice of the East aka Alleppy.

Serious analyzes of this film are littered all over the internet so I wouldn't dare to do that. Since all four stories are female-centric, the film provide ample fodder for discussions about latent feminism in Kerala society in the fifties and the sixties. As far as I am concerned, I liked the movie - four interesting stories about four different women who inhabits the same landscape of Kuttanad. It has also renewed my respect for Thakazhi, supposedly one of the greatest writers Malayalam ever produced but I had known him as Thakazhi of the Doordarshan's notorious drag or a TV serial by the name, 'Kayar'.