Jul 12, 2017

16th July 2017 - GRADUATION



 

GRADUATION
A Film by Cristian Mungiu
2016, Romania, 123 minutes
16th July, 5.45 pm , Perks Mini Theater
http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.in/



A fascinating and fastidiously complex study of one man’s moral choices at a crucial juncture in his life, Cristian Mungiu’s “Graduation” is a thoroughgoing masterpiece which offers proof that Romania’s cinematic upsurge remains the most vital and important national film movement of the current century.  
Mungiu’s protagonist this time is a doctor named Romeo Aldea, who is about to turn 50, which means that he’s reached a certain mid-point in life: young enough to have an aged mother needing his attention, old enough to have a daughter about to graduate from high school. Other signs of mid-life’s challenges: he’s got a wife who’s as romantically alienated from him as he is from her and a mistress who’s threatening to end things if he doesn’t leave the wife for her. Of these four women, it’s the daughter, Eliza, who becomes the film’s dramatic crux as the story begins.
Romeo  tries to take measures into his own hands when he starts to fear his daughter won’t score the high grades she needs on her final exams. Believing that a scholarship to a British university is the girl’s best chance to flee the corruption and despair of their own country, he finds himself becoming what he hates most – someone who tries to game a corrupt system. But this is not a man who suddenly finds his worldviews compromised; rather, he fancies himself an idealist, above deceit and graft. 
Mungiu’s characters are never really clean, however. The system around them sucks, but they’re part of that system, too. In Graduation, that realization slowly sneaks up on you. The film pulls you into the characters’ competing webs of lies, but it never loses sight of their self-justifications. The people of “Graduation” are all very believable, both persuasively Romanian and recognizable to anyone in the middle-class West. Which is to say that Mungiu shows us lives that reflect certain looming social forces but that also are too messy and individual to add up to neat moral lessons. (Source:Internet )
 

Cristian Mungiu

Cristian Mungiu was born in Iași, in 1968. After studying English Literature at university, he worked as a teacher and journalist for the written press, radio and television. He then attended the Film and Theatre Academy in Bucharest and first feature film, Occident, premiered at the Directors’ Fortnight in 2002 and was a triumph back in Romania. In 2007, his second film, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days was awarded the Palme d’or. The film received and won several international distinctions.or. He returned to Cannes in 2009 as a writer-producer-co-director with the collective film Tales from the Golden Age and as a writer-director in 2012 with Beyond the Hills – double awarded for Best Screenplay and Best Actresses. He was a member of the Jury headed by Steven Spielberg at the 66th Festival de Cannes (2013). Graduation – his fifth film presented in Cannes – won the award for Best Director in 2016. -  http://www.festival-cannes.com


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
http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.in

“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


AFTER THE STORM
A film by Hirokazu Kore-eda
2016/ Japan/ 117minutes/
5.45pm/ 30th April 2017/ Perks Mini Theater
http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.nl/


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


CHARULATHA
A film by Satyajit Ray
1964/ Bengali/ 120 minutes
2nd April 2017/ 5.45 pm/ Perks Mini Theater
http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.in/


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




I, DANIEL BLAKE 
A Film by  Ken Loach
2016/ UK/ 100 minutes
5.45pm/ 12th March / Perks Mini Theater
http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.in/



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

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


THE FINGER MAN (Le Doulos)
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.