R for The Reader

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Why do we refuse to accept our intimate relations before the world? Are we hidding something dishonorable that gives us pleasure or are we keeping mute because the association is humiliating and guilt ridden.

The Reader addresses many such questions in the garb of a War movie. Directed by Stephen Daldry, it is based on the German novel by Bernhard Schlink called Der Vorleser, and stars Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes and David Kross.

The fifteen-year-old Michael meets the stunning Hanna, a tram conductor twice his age. They have sexual relationship and yes its absolutely wrong but the movie in not about that. It is about truth, lies and deception and how their lives change and are affected by it.

The two meet when the young Michael is sick and retching up, Hanna see him and brings him to her apartment, cleans him up and takes care of him. Thus begins the illicit affair. During his visits to Hanna, Michael discovers his own sexuality. Enamoured by Hanna he gets embroiled in a torrid sexual relationship. Hanna on the other hand makes no pretences of any emotion towards him. She is well aware of their age difference and calls him ‘kid’ too. Then why did she plunge into it? Did she only want sex? Or was it in exchange for Michael’s reading classics for her. If she had money she probably would have offered him for reading out to her but she only had herself to offer.

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Anyway, Hanna suddenly disappears and Michael finds her apartment deserted. She didn’t even bother to leave a note behind for him, their relationship just stopped as abruptly as it started. It was quite a blow to the young and impressionable Michael; after all he did love her passionately.

Years later, when he is a law student, he encounters Hanna in the courtroom. She is under trial with other Nazi prison guards for war crimes. He is shocked beyond belief but as the trial progresses he finally understands why Hanna, wanted him to read to her, why she didn’t leave a note for him when she left and most importantly why she became a prison guard and is in all probability innocent. But even after uncovering her secret, Michael doesn’t stand up to speak on her behalf. He doesn’t want the world to know of their associations; firstly their affair was unlawful and a crime in itself secondly she was now a wanted war criminal. It was best to keep their secret where it was – deep into the closet.

Michael finds Hanna’s savings kept for the  war ravaged Jewish girl, now a woman. She is outraged at his audacity and refuses to take anything from her tormentor. Nevertheless he strives to undo the wrong done by Hanna and the Germans at large, and tells her to donate it to an organization that works for the rehabilitation of the Jews.

Many years back Michael chose to do wrong by getting involved in sexual relation as a teenager with a much older woman while Hanna chose to become a Nazi prison guard. Could this one act wash away or atleast alleviate their wrong doings? Perhaps yes, or perhaps in the eyes of the world the insurmountable wrong can never be undone.

The movies greatness lies not in narrating a war story of an uneducated woman and a young boy but in bringing out human truths about associations. Did Hanna have a choice of not afflicting pain on the Jews or where her German associations forced her to do her job as perfectly as possible and look the other way? Could Michael have saved Hanna at the court by giving away her secret and if he had how would the discerning world have regarded him? Well these are questions we still don’t have the answers to.

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Q for Quills

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Sex and cruelty, pleasure and torment go hand in hand – our animal instinct lying dormant under layers and layers of civility, education, modernization and progress (the list can go on). What is more intriguing is the fact that there is absolute and utter bliss in outright bestiality. When this sleeping giant of desire wakes up, we shun it, we frown upon it and we label it “Sadism”.

Quills is the story of Marquis de Sade, yes you have guessed it right, he has unleashed the term sadism upon the world. Directed by Philip Kaufman, it stars Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix and Michael Cain.

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What begins as a whimsical farce ends in a distrubingly haunting note. Quills is a fictionalized account of Sade’s life, where he writes impassioned feverishly about sex and cruelty and his pornographic material is smuggled out, of the asylum he is incarcerated, by an equally virginal laundress Madeleine. He finds a sympathetic friend in Abbey Coulmier, who urges him to write to purge his obnoxious delusions.

His graphic writings find covert audience amongst Napoleon’s subjects and therefore he appoints the physician Collard to crack down and silence the troublemaker. The physician’s tyranny brings out the best in Sade, as he mocks, taunts, outsmarts, outwits indefatigably and remains invincible up until his death.

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To keep Sade’s insanity and profanity in check, his quills are taken away from him but mere quills cannot limit his expression. He writes with whatever tool he has around him, sometimes wine, sometimes blood and when in deep anguish; his own feces.

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The movie is a passionate poetry on artistic freedom within a repressive political regime. What holds true even in contemporary times too is that pornography and graphic content is still frowned upon and censored. The methods are different but intent still the same. The message that Quills perhaps wants to convey is that we are all expressions of our nature and we are best served not by control and suppression but by letting ourselves free so that the laws of nature can take its course.

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The trailer of Quills

P for Pan’ Labyrinth

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What does a child do when she is trapped in war, bloodshed, cruelty, pain, turmoil – she conjures her own netherworld where a fairytale unfolds!

Pan’s Labyrinth is a movie grounded on the fascist Spanish War on one hand and fantasy on the other. Both seem true and real on their own terms. While a devastating battle is raging outside, a fairytale is shaping up somewhere in a forest labyrinth. Where there is a bloodthirsty Captain marauding and murdering the republicans there are the devious fawns and fairies giving gruelling tasks to a child. Is this a war movie weaved in with fantasy or is it a fairytale weaved in with war? It’s your take at the end of the day!

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Pan’s Labyrinth is a movie by Guillermo del Toro, which is similar to his previous The Devil’s Backbone, in its war setting and using children to bring out the pathos and pain. The significant difference in these two movies is that here he does not talk about morality and values but deals more in surrealism.

The movie is set in Madrid, after Spanish Civil War when Franco and his Fascist army attempted to quell the rebel uprising. Though it has a surreal fantasy realm, it nevertheless does not tone down the brutality of that period. The film opens with Ofelia and her mother Carmen, played by Ariadna Gill, arriving at a garrison commanded by Captain Vidal, Sergei Lopez. Vidal is a sadistic barbarian who executes the guerrilla rebels with savagery beyond comprehension. The Captain is not just brutal with the rebels but Carmen and Ofelia too have to suffer utter humiliation at his hand. It is clear that he has no kind intentions for them and has brought them along because Carmen is pregnant with his child who he hopes is a boy.

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One evening following a dragonfly Ofelia finds herself inside a maze hidden somewhere in the forest ruled by Pan the faun. The other world also has a goatish creature with menacing horns, a giant toad and a Pale Man who holds his eyes in his hands. They give her series of tasks which she must complete or face dire consequences .

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Little does the Captain know that the guerrilla sympathizers are in his own household; the housekeeper Marcedes , played by Maribel Verdu, and the doctor, Alex Angulo, who attends to Carmen, represents the movies alternatives to the militarized population. Mercedes’s clandestine visits to the rebels coincide with Ofelia’s sojourn into the fairyland which almost suggests that the vanquished Spanish Republic is now almost a dream and a fairytale in itself.

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With Ofelia trying to complete her tasks, one of them being keeping her mother safe, and her step father antagonizing the rebels the story moves ahead with a haunting pace. In fact the ending is etched in the minds and lingers on much after the movie ends. The story finishes in an eerie tension. What happens to the princess of the labyrinth? Does the faun keep his promise? Is the throne restored and does a new era of peace begin or is it the culmination of our existence as we see it.

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Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth juxtaposes two untenable materials that plays true on both sides. On one side there is the inhuman Captain and on the other side the faun, both playing the weaker ones. One grounded in reality, the other in fantasy of a child or perhaps the fantasy of the collective consciousness of Spain itself.

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Whatever it is that you find,  in the end it is unquestionable horror, fantasy, history all weaved into one compelling yarn that pulls us into the labyrinth making us hope and making us cry but, staying in our minds for a long, long time.

I leave you with the trailer of Pan’s Labyrinth

O for Omar

 

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In times of political unrest, war and turmoil, can love, friendship and loyalty thrive and flourish or are treachery and deceit the only outcomes. Breaking all polemics is a story of three friends in the strife-ridden Palestine. Will trust wither or is there hope for everyone.

Today’s movie is the all Palestinian star cast Omar, a romance with many melodramatic moments but is essentially a thriller set amidst the stark reality of Israel – Palestine conflict. Directed by Hany Abu Asad and starring newcomers like Adam Bakri in the titular role of Omar.

The movie opens with Omar running over the wall that separates occupied Palestine from Israel. It looms like the evil, intimidating omnipotent and omnipresent object that not only separates Palestine from Israel in thought, ideology, religion, culture and animosity but also divides Palestinians from Palestinians. The Wall symbolizes not just the strife but also all that is withering within people.

Scaling the separation wall is as unexceptional in the life of the baker Omar, as his and other Palestinians being treated miserably by the Israeli soldiers. Dodging bullets, another very normal matter of fact event in the daily lives of Palestinians, Omar goes to meet his friends and the high school girl he is in love with. Though the young Omar can scale the walls in a few lithe actions the slightly older, out of practice Omar is unable to do so almost like is signifies that he is dejected and frustrated with the life he has.

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The three friends Amjad, Tarek and Omar are barely beyond twenties with dreams of a normal life, which includes killing an Israeli soldier. Swift with revenge, the Israeli’s get hold of Omar and he is strung up and savagely beaten. Agent Rami offers him a way out; get Tarek and gang or get tortured inhumanly.

Though Rami could easily have been depicted as the monster, but his humanity comes out when he talks to his wife or enquires about his boys. There are two aspects to it, either talking to family while a grueling torture session is only but normal in these abnormal times or he is like anyone else trying to do his job as best as he can while being a loving family man too.

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Omar is released by his tormentors and he heads back to where he belongs to his friends and his Nadja but the situation escalates leaving a trail of suspicion, deceit and betrayal. The essence of the tumultuous lives is captured well where people confront the bitter flavor of truth every second of the day. The film quickly progresses to a narrow and harrowing chase where each side exhibits questionable ideas.

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The ending takes one by shock but then we realize that the only way to hunt down a prey is to entice him to your own territory. During these unspeakable times where everything is breakable, does Omar remain loyal, I will not give away the ending to an almost John Le Carr kind thriller. Find a copy of Omar and experience the movie. It will shock you, make you cry but will entertain you thoroughly just as a thriller should.

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It is one of the rare movies that show us the Palestinian perspective and their everyday life will make our troubles look puny and laughable. Though Asad is not making any political commentary it is true of any section that is weak. The powerful will do everything in their might to break the weak and keep them voiceless.

Leaving you with the trailer of Omar

N for Nacho Libre

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Nacho Libre, is a laugh riot from the beginning to the end. It is a clean family entertainer where I could sit with my son and laugh alongside him without cringing in embarrassment at anything that was being shown. A time when the movie business is replete with remakes, sequels and comic book adaptations this one is a fresh, small budget, no special effect movie that can make adults crack up like some freckled faced teenager.

Nacho Libre is another sweet comedy cooked up by the writers Mike White, Jerusha Hess and Jard Hess, who happen to direct the movie as well. Jack Black is the central character playing Nacho a half Mexican half American Friar, who yearns to be in another band of brotherhood much different from the Church he works in.

Orphaned at an early, Ignacio was raised in a Monastery; he is the meal man who cooks, here may I add, atrocious food for the orphans. Infact the meals cooked by him are so bad that orphans would rather have less food than eat the unpalatable food he cooks. To add insult to his injury the men of cloth don’t think much of him either and treats him pretty bad. The only thing going for him is that he adores the orphans and his yearning to become a ‘luchador’ or wrestler. Well, on the side, he is also attracted to the distractingly beautiful Sister Encarnacio. One can’t blame him for that, because celibate or not one is bound to look at least twice at such a pretty creation of God. Nacho stuck in the daily humdrum routine wants to catch her eye and also longs for the kind of attention the great luchador Ramses gets.

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Collaborating with the street thief, Esquelto, into becoming his sidekick, he starts off his career as the masked wrestler. He soon figures out that he is as bad in wrestling as he is in cooking up the daily broth but luckily for him, he didn’t have to win to be paid. By night Ignacio is an infamously unsuccessful masked wrestler and by day he is the friar with a crush on the new entrant nun at the monastery.

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Ignacio is in constant dilemma, because he is not happy just serving god, he wants to do something more. I think where the film scores is the fact it never mocks at religion. Yes the new nun is gorgeous and the priests have the hots for her but then who wouldn’t? In the end it is a movie not so much about religion but about faith. Its Ignacio’s faith that stops him from being enraged at the other priests who constantly humiliate him, it is his faith and belief that he can do something more for the orphans that propels him to go on a limb and become a, though ludicrous, but a wrestler nevertheless.

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Nacho Libre is far from being a path breaking film, but lets confront facts, what can be expected of a wrestling comedy from a moustached butterball Priest. Its laughable when detractors think it hurts people’s sensibilities, for whatever its worth, comedies are not supposed to tread the territory of the politically right. So leave that garb behind and watch this simple and hilarious underdog comedy. Nacho Libre is at once funny, sweet and surprising.

I leave you with a few scenes of Nacho Libre

 

M for Malena

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We love to gossip. Especially if there is a drop dead gorgeous, standoffish woman who turns every man’s head – we would so love to damn her to the deepest realms of hell! Men would love to fantasize her or fulfill their desire and flush her like some used toilet paper and women would be insecure by her mere presence and wag their tongue about what a tart she is.

Malena vividly reflects how a group of men and women can come together and collaboratively bring down a woman everyone desires secretly. And in the midst of it all is a young boy whose pubescent desires go all haywire. Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore , Malena stars Monica Bellucci, Giuseppe Sulfaro and Luciano Federico.

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Malena shows the Facist era of 1940 in Italy. While the townsfolk of Castelcuto of Sicily, are busy pledging for Mussolini, there is a young boy of thirteen whose only predicament are his raging hormones and the stunning Malena accelerates the frenetic goings on into an overdrive. Apart from politics it is the mysterious and lonely Malena that unites the towns people. Her husband is away fighting and she is left behind to take care of her father in law. She keeps to herself, dedicated only to the task at hand. Her grace, elegance and beauty becomes the talk of the town and she is the fodder for all the gossip. Everyone assumes that she must be having a relationship outside her marriage and it is the news of her husband’s martyrdom that makes the men believe that she is now available to meet their desires. Meanwhile Renato’s infatuation develops into an obsession and he begins to follow her everywhere and spy on her, which unwittingly makes him the sole witness to all her trials and tribulations.

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Renato deems Malena  a Goddess and in the four years that go by, he sees her elevated status defiled and marred by the lustful men and the jealous and despising women. Her beauty becomes her curse when a local lawyer promises to clear her name from a jealous wife’s lawsuit and demands his payment to be in kind. As shortages loom due to the war, Malena has to constantly barter favors to get one square meal and is soon forced into prostitution for her survival. When the war ends, the townsfolk take revenge on Malena – the women surround and pounce on her, beating her up and hurling insults until she is thrown out of the town.

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But there is light at the end of the tunnel and the tables are turned. Malena’s husband returns and he seeks her out and asks for her forgiveness for letting her alone in the world full of merciless people. Renato who had suffered when Malena fell from grace was overjoyed with this last act of forgiveness that absolved all her faults and elevated her to her previous status of elegance.

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Malena is a yarn seen from Renato’s eyes. He is the narrator and it is his coming of age story that focuses on how his perception of her makes him comprehend the true meaning of love, lust, devotion and fidelity.

Malena explores themes of collaboration, bigotry, lust, guilt and the very human will to survive.They are all wrapped  into one moving and emotional film that feels epic in scale. It is almost a study of human behavior , behavior that cuts across borders, race, culture and rings true even at our modern age of open mindedness.

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I leave you with some of the best scenes of Monica Belucci as Malena 

L for Life is Beautiful

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Whatever it is, wherever it is, whenever it is and however it is, Life is Beautiful. Life is beautiful in love, life is beautiful in war, life is beautiful in misery, life is beautiful in happiness, life is beautiful in despair, and life is beautiful in contentment. In all its absurdity, craziness, wisdom, reasonableness and paradoxes, it remains an enigma but above all else life is just simply beautiful.

Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful loudly and clearly tells us, that amidst the worse we can still find humor and keep the spirit high. Life is Beautiful or La Vida Es Bella, is an Italian movie directed by and acted by Roberto Benigni as Guido and has other star casts like Nicoletta Brashci as Dora, Giorgio Cantarini as Giosue, Giustino Durano as Uncle and Sergio Bustric as Ferruccio.

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Guido is a lovable, goofy character who, wants to open a bookstore therefore works part time as a waiter  to save up as much as he can. In the mean time he meets Dora and after an enchanting courtship they get married and have a son they name Giosue. Slowly the movie moves forward into World War II and its imminence is succinctly brought about when Guido asks a man about his political views and he turns around to reprimand his sons as “Benito, Adolfo! Be Good!”

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Though some critics are of the view that the movie somehow mellows and trivializes the grief and tragedy of the victims of World War II, on the contrary with all its buffoonery it points out to the abject absurdity of the situation. When Giosue wonders why a “no Jew or Dogs allowed” sign was on the window of a bakery, Guido tells him with an undertone of outrage that it’s a matter of personal choice and that “No Spiders or Visigoths” sign would make as much sense as the latter.

Later when the family is deported to the concentration camp Guido tells his son that this was part of a big game that they were all playing and points would be given at every stage and the winner would be awarded with a tank in the end. When the Jews are shoved into a dark train with no windows or seats Guido exclaims to his bewildered son “What, Seats on a train? Its obvious you have never been in one!” When they arrive at the prison camp and they have to wait in a huge queue, Guido explains that everyone is eagerly waiting to get in and start playing the game and win the prize. At the camp he volunteers to translate a Nazi officer’s command into Italian (and he knows not a word of German). He shouts out “we play part of the real mean guys who yell,” pointing out to the officers and he also translates some as, “don’t ask for lollipops, you don’t get any. We eat them all.”

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At the camp Guido works in grueling, back breaking conditions yet never for a moment loses patience with the child and keeps telling him to play the part and stay hidden from the officers because he was close to winning the tank. At the very end, Guido is caught by the German soldiers and marched out, but he manages to hide his son and tells him not to come out until there was no one in sight. He knows that his son will be watching him from his hiding spot, and he creates a comic moment even as he is marched out. The viewers know the fate that lies awaiting for Guido but the child is blissfully ignorant about it. In the morning when not a soul was in sight, he comes out of his hiding and his jaws drop to see a big tank approaching him. An English soldier comes out of the tank and lifts him up onto it. His prize for winning the game, or the English winning the war, and just as his father told him he got the tank rather a ride on it.

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The movie in the end is a story of a father’s sacrifice in keeping his son safe. Guido had the gift of comedy and quick improvisation and that’s the tool he used to keep his son away from harm’s way, had he possessed a weapon he would have probably used that to keep him safe. Life is Beautiful is a moving tale of the dauntless human spirit.

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Is Guido a brave soldier? Isnt he? He keeps his family safe just like the soldiers who give up their lives to keep the country safe. Guido is no less – he is a lion hearted, fearless soldier who keeps his son unscathed from the unspeakable crime that was the reality for months on end. A father who teaches love, a father who accentuates that no matter what, Life is Beautiful.

I leave you with one scene from Life is Beautiful

K for Kagemusha

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Can a fallen man fit into a noble man’s shoes? Can he measure up to his standards? Or does he remain fallen for the rest of his life? Does our birth, color, creed, nobility decide if we can achieve greatness? What does his Karma have in store for him? Well, no one knows what we are destined to do or become, we all try to keep afloat as best we can!

Kagemusha or “Shadow Warrior” is a Japanese movie by the well-known Director Akira Kurosawa. Kagemusha is an epic Samurai movie, be it the emotions or the colors or the technicality, it out performs any others in these aspects. It is a movie that questions the Samurai Code.

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Basically it is about a man who has nothing and is thrown into a world, which he has neither created nor he knows anything about. A petty thief is taken in custody by the Takeda clan for his uncanny resemblance with their dying leader. Soon after Shingen’s, the leader, death Kagemusha takes his place and starts impersonating him. But its easier said than done, he has to be coached by the people near to Shingen, to pick up every trait of his. The film depicts the constant dilemma of the Kagemusha’s role and his psyche. At times the viewers are led into believing that he is possessed by Shingin’s spirit but we realize as the story moves forward that he is not possessed by any ghost but he is haunted by the Shingen’s own legacy. Though the detractors are fooled by the imposter, Shingen’s horse isn’t. When Kagemusha tries to ride it, he falls proving to the world he was nothing more than a lowly subterfuge. He is replaced and the new clan leader wages a war with the enemy clan and loses leaving behind only carnage and annihilation. Kagemusha, the low born, common thief imposter, who cannot have an iota of loyalty and bravery, is horror stricken to see the gore around him. He in his last act of valor and fortitude, charges with a lance into the enemy lines to avenge the myriad deaths, and eventually dies for the Shingen and Takeda Clan.

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The plot is simple but the story telling is replete with pathos and  poignantly portrays that all men are equal. What remains is the dying Kagemusha floating in the ocean and the tidal waves carry him further than the rest of the fallen Takeda Clan. It is for the viewer to analyse if its just ideas that move forwards despite time or tide or is it that we are all here to fulfill our destinies that set us apart from the others.

I leave you with the trailer of Kagemusha

J for Juno

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Teen pregnancy is not the most thrilling episode in one’s life and I wish no one such an ordeal. In real life it’s best to keep away from it, how you do it, abstain or use contraceptive, it’s your choice. I am not here to preach and neither does Juno.

In many ways Juno breaks a few stereotypes. A sixteen-year old pregnant girl should be scared and depressed, right? Her parents should be after her life, isn’t it? She should be rushed into an abortion! The urbane well to do hen pecked Mark and over zealous Vanessa should be banal and stereotypical city slickers? Well its one hell of a laugh riot that finally breaks the facades and lets us see the inner workings of each of the characters.

Jason Reitman, directs Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman in this quick witted comedy. Juno. The movie has no negative stance on teenage pregnancy rather it chronicles the journey of the 16 year old in these nine months.

Juno, is a smart talking, know all , cocky teenager, who wants to get away from the stigma of being a virgin. She talks her friend Paulie Bleeker into having sex with her, though he is not too keen about it, he relents to her experimentation. We have to remember Juno is a teenager and no matter how hyper verbal she is about everything in life, she makes a poor choice of sex without protection. And of course the price is she is, pregnancy. But hey, it’s Juno who is pregnant, hence totally unruffled and absolutely brave and matter of fact about it. To the surprise of the audience, her parents are also very mature about it. They think about the right course of action without pulling down and reprimanding the sixteen year old in any way.

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Though she contemplates abortion initially, she decides to go through with having the baby and placing her/him for adoption and surprise, surprise her parents let her choose (I cant even begin to imagine what could be the consequence of this grave issue in an Indian household!) Anyways, Juno finds a childless couple ready to adopt her own child, in Vanessa and Mark. The initial impression of the couple through Juno’s eyes is that Vanessa is uptight and materialistic and Mark totally henpecked. Yet behind this veneer, Vanessa is unhappy about her life and childlessness; she longs for a bundle of joy. On the contrary Mark is not all that hen pecked after all, he is a manipulative child man, who doesn’t want to grow up, who doesn’t even know if he is ready to be a father. He is in a time capsule of his pubescence and gets attracted to Juno’s youthfulness.

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In a crux the movie is all about Juno’s experiences that span across three trimesters and four seasons where she herself matures enough to understand that her know it all attitude masks ignorance and she has a lot to learn. In her pregnancy adventure she gets a peek into the lives of adults. She knows that her choice of adoption has given her the immense power into the lives of affluent people who she could bend in any which way she wants. It is a coming of age movie where the 16 years old fails in an experiment done hastily but finally succeeds in understanding the finer nuances of life.

Juno does not pass any judgements about any of the characters. Though many critics have voiced that this movie glamourises teenage pregnancy and anti abortion rights, it does no such thing. On the contrary, without being judgemental and surmonizing, it brings out the long lasting effects of a not well thought out and hasty decision.

Here’s the motomouth Juno for all of you

I for In Bruges

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How many of you have heard of Bruges? I for one had never heard of it before I saw the movie and the sights and sounds make me want to visit this little town tucked away somewhere in Belgium.

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In Bruges is the debut movie of Martin McDonagh and stars big names like Brenden Gleesen and Colin Farrel. The movie is a dark comedy and can be called a Noir Film laden with pathos and interspersed with many twists and turns. It gives a window into the mind of hitherto criminal who is inwardly torn apart by his guilt. Criminal and guilt, the two do not run parallel to each other, you may ask, yet the movie beautifully brings out a certain set of human rules and a tiny bit of humanity that still makes them humane.

Ray (Farell) and Ken are stuck In Bruges ‘the best preserved medieval city in Belgium’. Ray hates the sleepy, boring town and wants to run away to London where its more fun and entertaining. It seems both of them are waiting in Bruges, waiting for the next course of action or orders from the powers that be. The picturesque Bruges is a parable to Purgatory, where one is suspended before ones fate is decided.

At the very onset it is shown that, Ray cribs about the dull Bruges, and Ken tells him that had it not been for Ray, they would not have been in this god forsaken town at all. Ray cuts him off and rushes to the washroom where he cries and the distress comes out loud and clear. Something is not right somewhere and that is eating him up within, despite the bravado and smart talking façade. Soon we find out the reason for the two Irish hit men to be stuck in this little, sleepy hollow and Ray’s ever-increasing guilt. Ray kills a Priest in the church during confession and as the bullet pierces through the Priest’s body it hits a 4-5 year old child, who had his own set of confessions for God.

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At the very beginning it was quite obvious that Ken and Ray are poles apart, their likes and dislikes very different. While Ken loved the town and wanted to savor its magnificent sights, the cobbled pathways, the pristine architecture, the conventional churches, Ray loathed every bit of it and longed to back to the action at London. As the movie progresses we see the camaraderie of the two increases and soon the fondness for this little place sets in, especially for Ray. Though he never says it in so many words but his actions and expressions all hint in this direction.

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The much-awaited order comes from their leader Harry (Ralph Fiennes) over the phone – that Ken must eliminate Ray as the death of a child cannot go unpunished. Ken is visibly shaken and he pleads to Harry that Ray has been tormented by the event and his remorse would help him redeem himself since he was a ’good kid’. But Harry would not budge and according to him such an abominable act cannot go unpunished. Later on, in the movie, a fight ensues between the two and Harry manages to injure Ken. Ken frantically tries to save his friend Ray, and he rushes up the church tower and in a final moment of utter desperation throws himself off the ledge. Ray taken aback rushes to the almost dead Ken, only to be informed that he was in danger. Ken’s sacrifice goes wasted as Harry hunts Ray down and finally manages to get him.

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The point of the movie that was at once, moving and sad, funny and poignant, tearjerker and dittzy, eventually drive home the fact that, circumstances can make someone a criminal, but circumstances cannot take away the finer human feelings from him.

In Bruges is a must watch film that will leave you wondering whose side to take and in the end you will be sympathizing with a child killer not the man who says the child killer should be condemned for life. Sigh! Human Beings are strange creatures and difficult to predict.

Here are some scenes from the movie