Movies...I have rolled in laughter, sympathized, empathized and shed many tears over this grand illusion. In my years in the US, one fascinating thing that kept me going was the ease of movie-watching. At one time, I had membership in Blockbuster, Hollywood videos and Netflix. Right, every possible movie rental outlet..crazy me! Especially loved the international section. In my time there, A Very Long Engagement, Rossenstrasse, The Lives of Others, The Sea Inside and Love me if you dare, were some of the movies that moved me, in all senses of the word. To be transported away to a different time, place, mood, perspective and all with a few frames! That's what lured me to the magic of movies, I discovered!
Although movies fascinated me from very young, the one, who pointed the way to options other than Tamil and Hollywood, was Madhan. Amelie is one such he talked about in the early 2000s. I have spent fascinating hours watching this masterpiece. I have found French movies, in general, to be a notch apart. As I speak, the frames of the Spanish Apartment flash before me.
After our marriage and eventual settling down in Chennai, Madhan and I were sorely missing our respective international movie experiences. One morning, as I was casually browsing through the Metro Plus section, my eyes hit the 'Korean Film Festival' hosted by ICAF, Chennai. We both were excited and decided to find more about it. There it started. We both have seen more international movies right here in Chennai, than we would have abroad, thanks to ICAF. Every month, they host movies from at least 3 countries. Ideal for the armchair traveller!
I have been meaning to write about every movie I saw but a year has passed by and 'tis only now, I am penning my thoughts on the ones that stand out..
SECRET SUNSHINE/KOREAN 2007
- The female lead character's performance was remarkable.
She moves through many confused phases in the movie and her portrayal was stunningly realistic.
GHOST PUB/JAPANESE 1994
- My first Japanese movie. We were surprised to find ourselves in fits of laughter. You would think humor is bound to cultures and here we were laughing our heads off at this movie about a wife returning as a ghost to haunt her husband and his new girl-friend. I think the Hollywood version, "Over her dead body" was inspired from this movie.Not inspired enough, though! The Japanese original was authentic, funny and moving in certain parts.
KATYN/ POLISH 2007
- A story about a people's struggle for the truth about their past. Set in the background of the World War 2 . It shows how history can be twisted, depending on who has the power!
ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS/ FRENCH 1958
- A simple murder story but told with very clever screenplay. Each knot of suspense plunges the movie in an awesome way. A film that old really puts some of these latest so-called thrillers to shame. French movie-making at its best.
CAMPFIRE/ ISRAELI 2004
- A peek into the settlement culture of Israeli Jews. It gives deep perspectives on conforming to a group Vs. standing for oneself.
THE SILENCE/ SWEDISH 1963
- An Ingmar Bergman classic. A stark portrayal of sibling conflicts and personalities. The dying female lead is a translator of exotic foreign languages while living in a dark silence with her own sister. The performance of the young child caught in the complex relationship between the sisters and yearning to discover the strange place he visits, was very mature.
BLISS/ TURKISH 2007
- Intense emotional portrayal of a society's view on rape and family shame. The stunning thing about the movie was the cinematography.. the locales and the camera were absolutely mesmerizing.
GRAVEHOPPING/ SLOVENIAN 2005
- A black comedy on a funeral speaker's witty confessions. The dialogues were dryly humorous and specific scenes evoked such outbursts of laughter. The female lead's view of life and the portrayal of her final decision was breathtakingly fresh.
CZECH DREAM/ CZECH REPUBLIC 2004
- A satirical, bold look at the commercial tendencies of the public. The movie is about a couple of researchers who start on an advertising campaign on a product that does not exist. They gather thousands of people at the site of a mall. The catch, there is only a wall and no mall. The people who gather are not actors but the general public taken in by the marketing. In the final moments, the movie really gives a perspective on human reactions and emotions, at their most foolish moments.
ARABIAN NIGHTS /LUXEMBOURG 2007
- The routine, smooth life of a person is thrown out of bounds by some simple events. It creates a story wherein a man risks losing his everything, just following his heart, which soon turns out to be a mirage in the desert.
SHE KEPT CRYING FOR THE MOON/ SLOVAKIAN 1982
- A look at slovakian lifestyle and the stigma of raising a child alone. The performances of the mother and daughter duo were outstanding.
JAN DARA/ THAI 2001
- A very intense portrayal of the sensuality in human relationships with its bundle of confusions. Even situations where you would expect to feel nauseous, on after-thought, are portrayed with such subtlety and beauty.
That's the list for now. Here's a promise on more frequent updates in the future..