Jun 7, 2017

11th June 2017; Max Ophuls - The Earrings of Madame de…


The Earrings of Madame de...
A film by Max Ophuls
Starring Vittorio De Sica
1953/  France – Italy/ 105 minutes
5.45 pm at Perks Mini Theater

“The Earrings of Madame de...,” directed in 1953 by Max Ophuls , is one of the most mannered and contrived love movies ever filmed. It glitters and dazzles, and beneath the artifice it creates a heart, and breaks it. The film is famous for its elaborate camera movements, its graceful style, its sets, its costumes and of course its jewelry. It stars Danielle Darrieux , Charles Boyer and Vittorio De Sica , who effortlessly embody elegance. The story takes place in Vienna a century or so ago. The General (Boyer) has married late, and well, to Louisa (Darrieux), a great beauty. He gives her expensive diamond earrings as a wedding present. She sells them to meet her debts.  Then fate takes over. She meets the handsome Baron. Their tragedy is that the intensity of her love carries her outside the rules, while the Baron remains safely in-bounds.In this charming film, the travels of a the pair of heart-shaped diamond earrings of Louisa impel the plot.

Louisa and her husband live in a society where love affairs are more or less expected; “your suitors get on my nerves,” the General fusses as they leave a party. If they do not know specifically who their spouse is flirting with, they know generally. But there is a code in such affairs, and the code permits sex, but not love. “Our marriage is only superficially superficial,” says Monsieur de, played by Charles Boyer (in his first French film since before the war), as he gingerly approaches the subject of her new lover with his flighty, distracted wife. For Louisa, the earrings teach a lesson. She is no more morally to blame than her husband or her lover, if only adultery is at stake. But if the General's honor is the question--if being gossiped about by the silly admiral's wife is the result--then she is to blame. 
In the end nothing remains of Madame de except for the pair of earrings — diamonds cut in the shape of a heart — which she leaves behind as an offering in a dank neighborhood church. But as Ophüls’s camera closes in on them, moving across the empty church to the glass case that contains them, marked with a silver plaque with her name, we see the diamonds have become her: glittering, transparent, icily beautiful, they are now illuminated by a flickering candle, a trembling spirit that nothing can erase. This ending, one of the most beautiful in the movies, contains the essence of Ophüls’s art. 
(Source: Internet)
Max Ophuls (1902-1957)
Max Ophuls (1902-1957) was a German who made films in Germany, Hollywood and France. His career was used by the critic Andrew Sarris as a foundation-stone of his auteur theory. Sarris famously advised moviegoers to value thehowof a movie more than thewhat. The story and message are not as important, he said, as the style and art. In Ophuls, he had a good test case, because Ophuls is seemingly the director most obsessed with surfaces, with the visual look, with elaborate camera movements. He was dismissed by many as nothing more than a fancy stylist, and it took Sarris (and the French auteurists) to show what a master he was.

His films are one of the great pleasures of the cinema. "Madame de..." is equaled by “La Ronde” (1950) and "Lola Montes" (1955) as movies whose surfaces are a voluptuous pleasure to watch, regardless of whether you choose to plunge into their depths. The long, impossibly complex opening shot of “La Ronde,” with the narrator introducing us to the story and even singing a little song, is one of the treasures of the movies. And who else has such romantic boldness that he will show Louisa writing her Baron day after day, with no letter back, and then have him tell her when they finally meet: “I always answered your letters, my love--but I lacked the courage to mail them.” And then to show his unmailed letters torn into bits and flung into the air to become snow.

Apr 26, 2017

30th April 2017 : Kor-eda's AFTER THE STORM

A film by Hirokazu Kore-eda
2016/ Japan/ 117minutes/
5.45pm/ 30th April 2017/ Perks Mini Theater

AFTER THE STORM is a sobering, transcendent tale of a divorced man’s efforts to nudge back into his son’s life. The main story belongs to Ryota. He is a prize-winning novelist who hasn’t published anything for 15 years and is currently working in a private detective agency. His family life is shattered after the divorce. He longs to be with his son. He tries to make amends with his ex-wife. Nothing seems to work.

Ryota asks many questions over the course of 'After the Storm'. The most prominent, perhaps, is "Why did my life turn out like this?" Fate brings the family together for a few hours with Ryota's mother. After the Storm's director Hirokazu Kore-eda is at his best in moments of togetherness, an artist who believes in the power of family without advocating for a return to the womb.

Acclaimed Japanese filmmaker  Kore-eda's stories, such as they are, unfold in unlikely ways. He doesn't play so much with structure, but with focus: He'll allow a scene to go on and on before slipping in a crucial bit of narrative information that sends the story off in a new direction. We can lose ourselves in these films — wondering what's around every corner and what's going on in the mind of even the most minor of characters.  AFTER THE STORM is Kore-eda's achingly beautiful ode to the quiet complexities of family life. 
(Source: Internet)

Hirokazu Koreeda

Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda was born in Tokyo in 1962. Originally intended to be a novelist, but after graduating from Waseda University in 1987 went on to become an assistant director at TV Man Union. Sneaked off set to film _Lessons from a Calf (1991)_. His first feature, Maboroshi no hikari (1995), based on a Teru Miyamoto novel and drawn from his own experiences whilst filming _August Without Him (1994)_, won jury prizes at Venice and Chicago. The main themes of his oeuvre include memory and loss, death and loss, and the intersection of documentary and fictional narratives.

In a short period of time, Hirozaku Koreeda has gained a solid reputation as one of the most significant figures of contemporary Japanese cinema. His oeuvre is currently comprised of eight films including his television documentary work with TV Man Union, Inc. and his narrative films (After Life, Maborosi) which reflect the contemplative style and pacing of such luminaries as Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Tsai Ming-liang. He has become a cinematographic tightrope walker who almost unnoticeably switches between fictitious and real territories, between narration and invention, the private and the public.

Mar 29, 2017

1nd April 2017; Satyajit Ray's CHARULATHA

A film by Satyajit Ray
1964/ Bengali/ 120 minutes
2nd April 2017/ 5.45 pm/ Perks Mini Theater

Charulata, Ray's favorite film, is based on the popular novella Nastaneer (The Broken Nest) by the great Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore, who was the first Asian writer and poet to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. 

The film is set in 1870s Calcutta and the overwhelming majority of it takes place inside the lavish home of an ambitious and very patriotic newspaper editor who rarely has time to talk to his beautiful wife. He loves her, but he loves his country even more. Knowing well that the future of India will likely be determined by the winners in the upcoming elections in England, he writes articles that frequently highlight the views promoted by the Liberal Party. During an unusually hot summer day, 

Bhupati (Shailen Mukherjee) finally realizes that he is spending too much time with his "second wife", which is how he jokingly refers to his newspaper, and invites his cousin Amal (Soumitra Chatterjee, The World of Apu), an aspiring writer, to spend some time with his real wife, Charulata (Madhabi Mukherjee. 

This excellent film directed by the great Satyajit Ray tells two different stories. The first is that of a young woman who is trying to listen to her heart in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the beautiful cage she has been placed in, however, writing is the only thing that occasionally makes her feel alive. The second and less obvious story is about a country looking for a new direction. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that there is tension in the air that could inspire dramatic events. 

Ray never delivers any political statements in the film, but it is easy to tell that like Charulata the country is quietly frustrated with the role that has been chosen for it.  The beauty of the film comes from its calmness and simplicity. Ray follows the conversations between the three protagonists without ever forcing the viewer to side with any of them. They exist and Ray and his camera are there to simply capture the moments they share. However, all of this, the observation and the acting, is done with a tremendous sense of effortless grace and elegance that makes viewing Charulata a very special experience. (Source:Internet)

Satyajit Ray

Satyajit Ray was born on May 2, 1921 in Calcutta into a Bengali family of a distinguished cultural lineage. After graduating from the famous Presidency College of Calcutta, Ray enrolled in the Visva-Bharati University founded by noted poet Rabindranath Tagore. During his stint in the Visva-Bharati, Ray's creative faculties were enriched by the exposure to different nuances of fine arts. Consequent to the course completion, Satyajit Ray joined advertising agency D.J. Keymer as a visualiser. After a couple of award-winning assignments, he joined publishing house Signet Press with the responsibility of designing cover jackets for books. While the job itself was an exercise in creativity, more importantly it led to Ray's first brush with the cream of Bengali literature. He gradually developed a passion for films and with a few friends founded the Calcutta Film Society in 1947.

In 1949 Satyajit Ray married his distant cousin Bijoya Das. The same year French director Jean Renoir came to Calcutta and the great filmmaker's encouraging words motivated Ray to tread the path of filmmaking. Next year Ray went to London as D.J. Keymer's art director and there he got an opportunity to watch Vittorio de Sica's film 'Bicycle Thief.' The film, a neorealist classic, kindled the filmmaker in Satyajit Ray. He returned home determined to film Pather Panchali. Despite being dogged by financial hassles, Ray and his ensemble of amateur crews finally completed the film and released it in 1955. The film won rave reviews all over the globe and heralded the arrival of a master filmmaker. Satyajit Ray made two more films Aparajito (1956) and Apur Sansar (1959) based on the life cycle of central protagonist Apu. Riding on the crest massive success and adoration, Ray unleashed a slew of memorable films such as Jalsagar (1958), Devi (1960), Teen Kanya (1961), Abhijan (1962), Kanchenjunga (1962), Mahanagar (1963)) and Charulata (1964). Some of his prominent films during later  period are Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (1969), Pratiwandi (1970), Jana Aranya (1975), crime fiction Sonar Kella (1974), Jai Baba Felunath (1978) and Shatranj ke Khiladi (1977), his first film in Hindi. In 1983 a severe heart attack crippled Ray's mobility and his last three films, Ganashatru, Shakha Proshakha and Agantuk couldn't create the magic of his earlier films. Satyajit Ray breathed his last on April 23, 1992.  

Mar 7, 2017

12th March 2017; Ken Loach's I, DANIEL BLAKE

A Film by  Ken Loach
2016/ UK/ 100 minutes
5.45pm/ 12th March / Perks Mini Theater

British director Ken Loach will be 80 years old in June, and he has worked in film and television for more than 50 of those years, but with his bone-deep empathy for the desperate and the downtrodden. “I, Daniel Blake” is one of Loach’s finest films, a drama of tender devastation that tells its story with an unblinking neorealist simplicity.

Daniel Blake, a  widower with no children,  has recently suffered a heart attack and receives an Employment and Support Allowance from the British state. But then, for no good reason, his benefits are denied; the state wants him to go back to work — even though his physician is on record as saying he can’t. The movie takes us through the agony of the appeals process, which is a much bigger nightmare than it sounds like. The story is told with stark and fierce plainness: unadorned, unapologetic, even unevolved. His one friend is Katie, the quick-tempered single mother whom Daniel befriends, becoming a gentle, grandfatherly figure to her two kids.

Daniel works to give the system every benefit of the doubt, until it insults his very being, at which point he has an impromptu “Attica!” moment. But it’s only a moment. The quiet beauty of “I, Daniel Blake” — the reason it’s the rare political drama that touches the soul —  is that we believe, completely, in these people standing in front of us, as Ken Loach and the actors have imagined them. And when the movie ends, we feel like we won’t forget them.  I, Daniel Blake is a movie with a fierce, simple dignity of its own.  (Source: Internet)


Ken Loach attended King Edward VIGrammar School and following two years in the RAF read law at St Peter's College, Oxford. In 1966 Loach made the socially influential docu-drama Cathy Come Home.  In the late 1960s he started directing films, and in 1969 made Kes. It remains perhaps his best known film in Britain. Loach experienced a miraculous, creative resurgence in the 1990s with the advent of Channel 4 funding and producers Sally Hibbin and Rebecca O'Brien. His recent films invest warmth and humour in their characters' plights while allowing political alternatives to develop naturally out of the narratives.

Ken Loach is a director admired, and often loved, all over the world. For his remarkable output, Loach has won numerous international prizes and long overdue critical recognition . Despite political ebb and flow, fickle artistic trends and film financing difficulties, he remains steadfast in his commitment to progressive ideals and a personal cinema. Loach's films are art of the highest order. While exposing the failings and limitations of human experience, they also provide a path to change and progress. His body of work firmly celebrates the fact that life is worth living.   (Source: Internet)

Nov 2, 2016

6th Nov 2016 ; Jean-Pierre Melville's THE FINGER MAN

A film by Jean-Pierre Melville
1963/ France/ 108 minutes
5.45 pm / 6th Nov 2016/ Perks Mini theater

We are introduced to burglar Maurice Faugel in the opening scene. Faugel has just  finished serving his term in prison. On being freed, he kills Gilbert Vanovre in order to avenge the murder of his wife. He also endeavours to perpetrate a robbery.

Confusion and wrong assumptions are the cause of tragedy in this stylish gangster noir. Maurice (Serge Reggiani) and Silien (Jean-Paul Belmondo) are friends going way back, and both have had a shady past. Silien wants to leave and retire. Doubts assail Maurice as well as others on  Silien .  It is finally decided that something has to be done about Silien.

it was French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville who distilled the essence of film noir as an art form, and his films reached its highest levels of expression. Melville’s first complete realisation in this genre was Le Doulos (1962)

Jean-Pierre Melville

Film-maker Jean-Pierre Melville's life was a running battle with critics and fans alike. But the 'garlic gangster' won in the end.

Born in Paris, France, Melville, who was an Alsatian Jew, served in World War II and fought in Operation Dragoon. When he returned from the war he applied for a license to become an assistant director, but was refused. Without this support, he decided to direct his films by his own means.He became an independent film-maker, owning his own studios, and became well known for his tragic, minimalist film noirs, such as Le Samouraï (1967) and Le Cercle rouge (1969), starring major, charismatic actors like Alain Delon (probably the definitive 'Melvillian' actor), Jean-Paul Belmondo and Lino Ventura. His directorial style was influenced by American cinema and fetishized accessories like weapons, clothes and especially hats.

His independence and his 'reporting' style of film-making (he was one of the first French directors to use real locations regularly) were a major influence on the French New Wave film movement, and he appears as a minor character in Jean-Luc Godard's seminal New Wave film Breathless. When Godard was having difficultly editing Breathless, it was Melville that suggested that he just cut directly to the best parts of a shot. Thus, the films famous and innovative use of jump cuts were made.

In 1973, Jean-Pierre Melville died. In a career spanning 25 years, the director had made just 13 full length films, but many of these are regarded as genuine triumphs of French cinema.

Oct 17, 2016

23rd October 2016; Asghar Farhadi's ABOUT ELLY

A film by Asghar Farhadi
2009 / Iran/ 119 minutes
23rd Oct 2016/ 5.45 pm / Perks Mini Theater

“About Elly” the fourth feature from talented Iranian filmmaker  Asghar Farhadi opens with a group of Iranian college friends—among them three couples, two with children—decamping to a rustic villa on the scenic banks of the Caspian Sea.

They have organised this trip quite impulsively: when they arrive, there is some confusion about where they are supposed to be staying, and they have to move into a beachfront villa that happens to be vacant, but is chaotic and derelict. And there is something else.

One of the party, the vivacious Sepideh has invited along someone of whom they know next to nothing: a young woman called Elly , who is their children's teacher. Mischievous Sepideh is hoping to set Elly up with the single friend in their party: Ahmad, who is recently divorced and has just returned from a long stay doing business in Germany.

This film is a revealing light on the elaborate culture of deceit that’s part of modern Iranian society about upper-middle-class Tehranis. The trip starts promisingly with singing and charades but the following morning, panic breaks out.  Farhadi manages the transition with utmost skill. 

“About Elly”  is clearly the work of a master in the making, an artist on the cusp of greatness. There’s almost no one working today who makes films so emotionally honest.

Asghar Farhadi

Asghar Farhadi was born in Isfahan, Iran in 1972. Whilst at school he became interested in writing, drama and the cinema, took courses at the Iranian Young Cinema Society and started his career as a filmmaker by making super 8mm and 16mm films. He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Film Direction from Tehran University in 1998.

During his studies, he not only wrote and directed student plays, but also wrote plays for national radio and directed for television with such shows as the hit series Tale of a City.In 2001, Farhadi wrote the screenplay for Ebrahim Hatamikia’s box-office and critical success Low heights. His directorial debut was with 2003’s Dancing in the Dust. This film went on to participate in the Moscow Film Festival, where it won both the Best Leading Actor and Film Critics awards.

Farhadi made his second feature film, Beautiful City, in 2004 which won the Best feature film award at the Warsaw Film Festival 2004, the India International Film Festival and Moscow’s Faces of Love Film Festival. “Chahar shanbeh souri / Fireworks Wednesday”, his third feature, award winner at the Locarno International Film Festival 2006, has also been successful in other international festivals. The film has been released in both Europe and the USA.

On 19 December 2011, he was announced as being on the jury for the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival, scheduled to be held in February 2012. On 15 January 2012, his movie Nader and Simin, A Separation won the Golden Globe for the Best Foreign Language Film.The film was also the official Iranian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Academy Awards where apart from getting nominated[7] in this category, it also received a nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category. On the 26 February 2012, Nader and Simin, A Separation became the first Iranian movie to have received an Oscar for the best foreign language film at the 84th edition of the Academy Awards. This marked Farhadi as the first Iranian to have won an Academy Award in any of the competitive categories.

Sep 28, 2016

2nd Oct 2016; Hitchcock's VERTIGO

A film by Alfred Hitchcock
1958/ USA/ 129 Minutes
2nd Oct 2016/ Perks Mini theater

 Vertigo opens with a short prologue that details the circumstances under which Detective John Ferguson (James Stewart) develops an acute case of acrophobia that leads to vertigo whenever he climbs a steep flight of stairs or gets more than a few feet above the ground. 

After leaving the police force because of this condition, John is approached by an old acquaintance, ship yard magnate Gavin Elster to tail his wife, Madeleine,. As John follows Madeleine, watching her day after day, he falls for her..

This cry from a wounded heart comes at the end of Alfred Hitchcock's “Vertigo,” and by the time it comes we are completely in sympathy. A man has fallen in love with a woman who does not exist, and now he cries out harshly against the real woman who impersonated her. But there is so much more to it than that. 

The real woman has fallen in love with him. In tricking him, she tricked herself. And the man, by preferring his dream to the woman standing before him, has lost both.

Hitchcock does a masterful job blending all of Vertigo's diverse elements together. It's a love story, a mystery, and a thriller all rolled into one. It deals with issues of obsession, psychological and physical paralysis, and the tenuous nature of romantic love. Vertigo should really be seen more than once to be fully appreciated. Many of the darker, deeper aspects only begin to bubble to the surface on subsequent viewings.

“Vertigo” (1958), which is one of the best films Hitchcock ever made, is the most confessional, dealing directly with the themes that controlled his art. Alfred Hitchcock took universal emotions, like fear, guilt and lust, placed them in ordinary characters, and developed them in images more than in words. A thematic analysis can only scratch the surface of this extraordinarily dense and commanding film, perhaps the most intensely personal movie to emerge from the Hollywood cinema. (Source: Internet)

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock is known to his audiences as the 'Master of Suspense' and what Hitchcock mastered was not only the art of making films but also the task of taming his own raging imagination. Director of such works as Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds and The 39 steps, Hitchcock told his stories through intelligent plots witty dialogue and a spoonful of mystery and murder. In doing so, he inspired a new generation of filmmakers and revolutionized the thriller genre, making him a legend around the world. His brilliance was sometimes too bright: He was hated as well as loved, oversimplified as well as over analyzed.

Hitchcock was eccentric, demanding, inventive, impassioned and he had a great sense of British humor. His success followed when he made a number of films in Britain such as "The Lady Vanishes" (1938) and Jamaica Inn (1939), some of them which also made him famous in the USA. David O. Selznick, an American producer at the time, got in touch with Hitchcock and the Hitchcock family moved to the USA to direct an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (1940). It was when Saboteur (1942) was made, that films companies began to call his films after him. He retired soon after making Family Plot (1976).In late 1979, Hitchcock was knighted, making him Sir Alfred Hitchcock. On the 29th April 1980, 9:17AM, he died peacefully in his sleep