Monday, May 10, 2010

Films Seen Recently

  • The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009): The strongest film I have seen in the last few months. Titled Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon - A tale of German children), it is an adult film which might elude most adults if not reflected upon. With austere and stark black and white cinematography, and having an exceptional sense for composition and editing, and possessing a narrative that is not meant to be absorbed in a single viewing, this is an essential film for the modern age. It attempts to explain the origins of callousness and violence in human beings, and the voice-over ending by the narrator makes one's hair stand on end. Haneke lives up to his name, again. This film justly won the Palme d'Or at Cannes last year. It has scenes of emotional cruelty which take your breath away and which far outstrip any gore or torture porn in the theater these days (some of which is quite radical).

  • A Serious Man (Coen Brothers, 2009): A rather strange meditation on existentialism, atheism and non-determinism in the form of a black comedy. Heartily recommended. I love films which end when you least expect them to.

  • A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009): An expressionistic film about loss and loneliness, ultimately rather trite, but magnificently filmed. Colin Firth's performance is nuanced, flawless, and grave. Of course it is also a gushing view of a certain opulent lifestyle. Meandering at times, I particularly liked the courtship rituals between the professor and the student.

  • The Green Zone (Paul Greengrass, 2010): Well-filmed, and though seemingly politically incendiary material ("We didn't invade Iraq for the WMDs"), gets no more than a "Duh!" in 2010. Far more incendiary is the WikiLeaks video about the wanton disregard of the Rules of Engagement in Iraq, resulting in many deaths, which has invoked curious little discussion outside the US.

  • Up in the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009): A quirky little comedy of corporate manners, a feel-good film in the post-bubble world, but not memorable.

  • Iron Man 2 (Jon Favreau, 2010): Sorry I watched this piece of drivel. A wish-fulfillment story for the adolescents, it is not even engaging. But this did made me reflect on this analysis of Wanted (Timur Bekmambetov, 2008), a film which thankfully I have not seen. The analysis is far more engaging read than ten such films put together. It is a sign of our times that bigger and bigger explosions (2012, Transformers, Avatar, and this film) are now needed to satisfy the overstimulated, attention-challenged moviegoers of the world. These films are the biggest hits of the year, in case you are wondering.

  • Home (Yann Arthus-Bertrand, 2009): A polemical documentary about our environment and the planet which makes no bones about its activist bias, it is remarkable only for its imagery in the first half. The second half feels repetitive and preachy. The Qatsi trilogy is much more understated and, hence, poignant.

  • Disgrace (Steve Jacobs, 2008): A faithful retelling of J M Coetzee's acclaimed novel, it is an interesting take on the postmodern man trying to again find some meaning in life, and perhaps succeeding. John Malkovich's acting can be considered wooden, but perhaps it is intended as an affectation of the character. I understood the novel only after watching this film.

2 comments:

Modern Man said...

Harman,

You might be interested in reading this in-depth analysis of "A Serious Man": http://toddalcott.livejournal.com/287862.html#cutid1

That link is for part 1 out a 15 part analysis. To get to the next part, click the "Next" link that resides above the post.

-MM

Harmanjit Singh said...

@MM:

Thanks MM. It is an incisive analysis, and I went through it a while back. Worth reading again.