Juste Avant La Nuit

Juste avant la nuit

Just Before Nightfall is another Claude Chabrol film that focuses on infidelity and again it’s an intriguing thriller and an excellent exploration of the human condition. When a sadomasochistic game goes too far, Charles (Michel Bouquet), a married man, strangles his lover, the wife of his best friend, and then does battle with his guilty conscience. The murder happens right at the start of the film, so it’s not exactly a spoiler. Bouquet despises the games she likes to play, mostly because he sees that what she’s really getting off on is his own distaste. He’s not sure whether he wanted to murder her.  He’s married to an elegant woman (Stephane Audran, Chabrol’s wife) and has a couple of nice kids and an elegant house that was designed by the victim’s husband.
His characters are generally from the section of French bourgeoisie. They’re respectable, they live in comfortable homes and work in well-paying professions, they present a facade of total respectability. But underneath there are dark passions and well-kept secrets and, at-times, the ultimate embarrassment of murder. The actors reveal their inner dilemmas with gestures more than words. Deep intentions run across surface motives. And the final gesture of this compelling film casts all that went before into another, deeper level. All the main characters are developed well and believable. The main character, Charles, is certainly the most interesting ; the way that guilt overtakes him provides a different take on the common murderer theme and makes for a very interesting watch. Guilt, forgiveness, revenge coexist and mutually triumph. Many of us assume these three moral stances are mutually irreconcilable. Chabrol balances them against each other and then fuses them together.

Chalachal

Chalachal.jpg

 

Sarama Banerjee (Arundhati devi), an exemplary student of medical science faced the crisis of poverty.  Avinash (Nirmal Kumar), a classmate of Sarama liked her a lot. Due to recommendation by his teacher Chandra Saheb ( Pahari Sanyal),  Sarama did manage to get a private tution.  Avinash used to suffer very frequently.  He left his studies and worked as a freelance artist.  In the meantime, Bipin (AsitBaran) came into the life of Sarama.  He was elder brother of Montu, the student of Sarama. Avinash sacrificed his love and Bipin got married to Sarama. Slowly Bipin started to doubt his wife. She is caught between her love for the sensitive but ailing artist Avinash and her loving husband Bipin.  None of the two men understand Sarama’s heart truly and Sen brilliantly captures the lone woman’s solitary struggle. The strength of Asit Sen lay in his ability to balance the script and handle complex characters with a certain level of maturity that make them connect directly with the audience.  Asit Sen was a master of the low-angle shots. He used his camera to root his characters and highlight their emotions.  Nirmal Kumar was inconsistent while Arundhati Devi,  AsitBaran did full justice to their roles.  This film was a good example of Asit Sen’s characteristic style to keep the movement happening as the script raced through, the characters conversing with each other in a perfect reflection of our daily lives.
 

Pakeezah

pakeezah 1

Some films want to buy classic status with massive budgets and crumple under the pressure of their own spectacle. Pakeezah is lavish in its treatment of a courtesan’s turbulent story, but its splendour fills the eye, stirs the senses.  The story begins with the elopement of a tawaif,  Nargis (Meena Kumari)  with her lover,  the Nawab Shahabuddin (Ashok Kumar).  Shahabuddin takes Nargis to his household,  where she is rejected by his honourable family.  Nargis flees to a graveyard, where she spends the next 10 months of her life, giving birth to a daughter in the interim.   Nargis dies in the graveyard, and her older sister Nawabjaan (Veena), on receiving this news, reaches there and takes the baby away. 17 years later Sahabuddin has received a letter written by Nargis on her deathbed. He comes to know about his daughter through this letter.  Shahabuddin rushes to Nawabjaan’s kotha and asks for his daughter Sahibjaan (Meena Kumari). A furious Nawabjaan tells him to come tomorrow morning.  Nawabjaan takes her to some other place.  They travel overnight by train and while both of them are asleep in their compartment, a fellow passenger climbs into their compartment by mistake. He is Salim (Raj Kumar).  Enchanted by her feet, he leaves a note “Aap ke paon dekhe, bahut haseen hai. Inhe zameen par mat utariyega — maile ho jayenge”.

There is grandeur in Amrohi’s filmmaking – an epic magnitude of treatment.  The evocative songs and the background music create the right period mood and Amrohi’s eye for details brings great depth to the lavish sets.  The film’s main merit in spite of its flaws, its at times disjointed flow, its stock situations and an over extended plot,  lies in its euphoric romanticism. Pakeezah is filled with symbols.  There is, for instance, the oft-used symbol of the bird in a cage.  Trains themselves form an important motif throughout the film.   A train is where Sahibjaan’s and Salim’s paths first cross, and ever after, trains continue to haunt  Sahibjaan.   Kamal Amrohi uses actions, expressions, little details to convey far more than dialogues do, and often in much less time.  The script is memorable in the hands of Meena,Ashok,Raaj Kumar, Veena etc to name a few.  Personally i was most impressed by the regal looking Kamal Kapoor. Meena Kumari lives the tragedy of Nargis and Sahib Jaan like her own. Coupled, with a captivating screenplay is a beautiful musical score, enhanced by the protagonist displaying notable command of classical Indian dance  (kathak).

Bu San ( Goodbye, Dragon Inn )

Goodbye dragon inn

We talk about cinemagoing as a communal experience, where we tend to bond with others over the images infront of us. When groups of us gather in a hall, we may be seeing the same images, but we are never seeing the same film.  Other ways of watching films-on a computer and even on a phone- have come to the fore, and, as a result, new ways of living with cinemas have emerged. They are no less important, but they are different psychologically.  For their final show, the theatre has programmed King Hu’s 1966 martial-arts classic, Dragon Inn. Entering the auditorium, the young man notices handful of other people. There are also several middle-aged man who seem far more interested in one another than in the film.Meanwhile,a crippled ticket taker is eating dinner in her small booth. She sets aside half of her food to take to the projectionist. The film becomes hypnotically addicting if you adjust urself to it’s languid pace. Tsai captures the simple pleasure of going into a cinema for a couple of hours, as well as the voyeurism that can accompany watching a film with a crowd of unknown people. Camera shows us desolate corridors and cluttered storage rooms, a lobby lined with brightly colored posters that might look garish if they weren’t so inviting. Everywhere Tsai takes us, the theater is thrumming with near-silent life.

Hell or High Water

Hell or High water 1

The 2016 feature by David Mackenzie tells the story of 2 brothers who will stop at nothing to save the land of their deceased mother, the last link to their childhood, and the riches that the oil under her land will promise. Marcus (Jeff Bridges) is a Texas lawman weeks before a forced retirement, training Alberto (Gil Birmingham) to be able to take his place. Just when it seems like it will be a quiet couple of weeks before his retirement, a rash of bank robberies occur and Marcus and Alberto take the responsibility to solve the case.  After their mother passed away, Tanner (Ben Foster) and Toby (Chris Pine) were faced with the realization that the land on which she lived was being seized by the bank. Toby has a former wife and a child to think about while Tanner is constantly on the run, in and out of jail. All of the performers in this film, right down to the bit players, are quite good, but Bridges shows yet again that he is one of the finest actors in America.
Bridges takes over the film every time he’s on screen. He doesn’t want to give up his job because, we feel, he wants to hold on to a West that no longer exists. . Pine, who usually chooses action hero type roles, makes us question whether he might not be a better character actor. He’s excellent here in part because the weight of the movie isn’t resting on his back.  Ben Foster does a pretty mean impression of a man who looks like he’s spent a week living in a gutter.  One character, a half-Comanche, puts it in perspective when he matter-of-fact observes that, 150 years ago, all this land belonged to his people. Hell or High Water is more of a drama than a thriller, although there are “thriller-type” elements in place. Mackenzie  prefers extended takes and tracking shots which lift the film to great cinematic heights. Mackenzie takes great pains to provide a compelling, credible motive for Toby and Tanner and to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of the men pursuing them. In the superbly tense Hell or High Water, New Mexico stands in for Texas and the heist film stands in for a bleak present-day western.

Esthappan

ESTHAPPAN

Esthappan is a 1980 Malayalam film written and directed by G. Aravindan. Esthappan is a fisherman, who lives in a seashore colony. He, who was once a fisherman now does no work other than helping people. He is concerned more about getting into the hearts of people where lay the real problem. His story unfolds through narrations by other fishermen about his miraculous acts. For some he is a seer and healer, for others a thief, or a crook. He is the medium through which they explain and understand the ambiguities and injustices of life. Esthappan, who turns into a mythical figure in the minds of the local people, and weaves into itself local myths and legends.
There is something about him-his waywardness or maybe the look in his eyes which gives rise to stories. The stories about Esthappan contradict one another. The film makes creative use of the episodic cartoon format.  Arivandan draws parallels with the Biblical story of Christ.  Shaji’s camera captures soft contrasts of light, faint rubbings of the gold in the dark hall of the catholic church, the hazy  blackness of a cave following upon the grain of sandstone walls.

Body Double

Body Double

“Body Double” is an exhilarating exercise in pure filmmaking, a thriller in the                  Hitchcock tradition in which there’s no particular point except that the hero is flawed and we identify with him completely.  The film gives more emphasis on visual storytelling rather than dialogue. Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) is a struggling actor who has lost his role as a vampire in a low-budget horror film.  At a method acting class he meets Sam (Gregg Henry) who offers Scully a place to stay.  Sam points out all the sights including a shapely neighbor (Deborah Shelton) who does a nightly striptease dance in front of her open window.  For two nights, he uses a telescope to watch the striptease.  He also begins to suspect that the woman may be in danger. Since the plot is so important in “Body Double,” i won’t reveal very much more of the story. It is a genuinely terrifying thriller. De Palma is at home in this genre. We see some fairly mild porno scenes in this film.  The film opens with a satire on vampire movies, includes a Hitchcockian cat-and-mouse sequence, and even borrows some of the clichés of 1940s film-noirs.   Technically, it’s a marvel of film technique.  Wasson’s claustrophobic attacks are effectively conveyed to the viewer. The infamous drill murder is a terrific setpiece.  Criag Wasson is good as the confused and creepy Scully and Deborah Shelton has a remoteness which fits in well with the dreaminess of some of her scenes.