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Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2010)

Director: Werner Herzog and Dmitry Vasyukov Genre: Documentary With "Happy People: A Year in the Taiga" Werner Herzog ...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Delicatessen (1991, French)

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro
Genre: Black Comedy

Plot: A dystopian future where people aren’t evil as such, instead, they are what circumstances make them. The good still prevails, though.
Delicatessen-Delicacy (French)

French do know how to make engrossing films on a shoe string budget. Innovative set design and coloring—with a slight orangish tinge—does give it a very rare post apocalyptic look and feel. 

Delicatessen is indeed a cult film—actually, homage to Terry Gilliam! So, if you enjoyed Monty Python’s satire you’ll enjoy this too.  


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Prometheus (2012)

Director: Ridley Scott
Genre: Sci-fi
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron

Toward Origin
Plot: It is not where and how Alien/Aliens began, it is where and how everything began.

Prometheus starts with a well thought out Earth seeding scene that is later on corroborated by another DNA matching scene. As is the case with a Ridley Scott film, it isn’t aliens dancing onscreen all the time but the slow-paced narrations builds it toward an expected epic climax and the haunting visual grandeur keeps you glued in. However, the climax never picks up and rather disappoints—from what we know universe started with a big-bang, so expecting a few little bangs while unraveling the mystery of the‘Origin’ isn’t being too farfetched.

The plot ‘engineered humans’ is something I used to think about a lot in my childhood and the film/plot raising the same questions excited me a lot. Prometheus does arouse interest and curiosity but choosing not to answer any questions leaves someone like me wanting for more and dissatisfied—we understand the plot; we know the plot and can relate to it being kind of unmanageable due to its sheer extraneousness but from someone like Ridley Scott we expect a few answers. Though he does try to uncover a few layers but leaves it at that…which is justified in case there’s a sequel in offing. 

Would have loved to see more of Guy Pearce in that TED talk and Michael Fassbander from the pre release viral videos—those were some things I was hoping to see more of! Noomi Rapace does a fine job, especially with her British accent, and some of the best scenes from the film cast her fighting for survival—automated surgery scene being one. Charlize Theron has hardly anything to do, her character seemed forced at times—that’s two forgettable roles in a row for someone as capable as her.

Ridley confirms Prometheus isn’t exactly a prequel to Alien/Aliens but you we do get to see a somewhat similar alien in the escape pod.

Sadly, a onetime watch from Ridley Scott, though you may watch it again for its visual brilliance, neat special effects and state of the art future gadgetry/equipments; plus, the effort in scoping out those Alien world-like locales is totally worthwhile.

Personally, I would enjoy a movie with Prometheus’s pace more on my laptop with headphones plugged in instead of a theatre watch. Primary reason for that: idiotic chatterboxes who either don’t understand a film or are not into a particular genre but instead of leaving the theater they carry on their with incessant gossips, mobile talks and mocking. Agreed, a film doesn’t always have to be intelligent and cinema is actually more about entertainment. So to such blockheads I request, go watch a ‘Dude Where’s My Car’ or a ‘Tashan’ and be happy about it.   

Kekexili: Mountain Patrol (2004, Chinese)

Director: Lu Chuan
Cast: Duobuji, Liang Qi, Xueying Zhao 
Genre: True Story

Kekexili_Mountain Patrol
In early 90s 'Poaching' forced  the Tibetan antelope population to the brink of extinction. Concerned, some localites out of their own efforts, formed a group to protect this endangered species—Mountain Patrol.

The following dialogue beautifully sums-up the entire film: "In Kekexili, each step maybe the first human imprint ever made on that spot since the world began". These were the words of a Chinese geologist who later disappeared in the harsh vastness of Kekexili. Set in a location as exotic as it gets this film is also a true story--an irresistible combination for those into the genre.

First thing that strikes you about the movie is its genuine treatment; shot in somewhat a documentary style. It doesn't seem as if Chuan is directing a film rather he is a part of it, completely immersed in its conception--physically and as well as mentally. The actors are usually amateurs who have done a commendable job and are also very believable as the real patrol members--the group photo at the end of film reasserts this statement.

Here, you get to see the real physical effort that goes into low-budget film-making without stunt doubles or special effects. Traversing through the great Tibetan Plateau, running around for shots and thin oxygen definitely took its toll on the crew and the actors, and that has been captured onscreen too. Some scenes stand out for their authenticity, like the one where a patrol member chases after the poacher on foot. This is simply devoid of any acting--you see the scene and feel the exhaustion of both the characters.

This film is actually a part of National Geographic world films and has been critically acclaimed by the nature/animal lovers and cinema lovers alike.
National Geographic says, "Mountain Patrol: Kekexili is a film inspired by a people's remarkable mission surrounding the illegal Tibetan antelope poaching in the region of Kekexili, the largest animal reserve in China. The story is brought to the screen with great detail by director Lu Chuan. Set against the exquisite backdrop of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Chuan tells the tale of brave local Tibetans who face death and starvation to save the endangered antelope herds from a band of ruthless hunters."

In all, Mountain Patrol is a very accurate account of coming to existence of biggest Chinese animal reserve.

The film concludes telling us:

"Gayu, the journalist, returned to Beijing. His reports shook the nation. Four patrol members were arrested for selling antelope pelts but later released due to the public support-as patrol was helpless and unsupported in harsh conditions. Chinese government declared Kekexili a national nature reserve."
Indeed, a film that had to be made.

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