Far From Heaven



far from heaven


Like Sirk before him, Todd Haynes is fascinated with the thin lines that separate the world from a perceived version of reality and the paths of resistance that lie therein. Cathy (Julianne Moore) is a mother of two, married to a rich businessman Frank (Dennis Quaid) who works for a powerful television sales company.  The couple embody everything that is seemingly “perfect” about upper middle-class suburbia. A reporter does a story on Cathy for the local paper and claims that Cathy is “kind to the Negroes”. One day Cathy finds Frank doing sex with another man. She becomes so isolated that her most comforting moments are conversations with their gardener Raymond.  But Raymond is black and that was 1957. Everything about Far from Heaven playfully yet reverently implies to the 1950s as a movie genre.  Mark Friedberg’s production design is outstanding, surpassing his previous works. Sandy Powell’s costumes are superb, especially for Moore herself who is allowed noticeably fuller skirts to wear. As Cathy, Julianne Moore gives a performance that can be called nothing less than outstanding. She is utterly heartbreaking as a good-natured woman, totally bewildered by the curves life is throwing at her while trying to maintain a façade of normalcy. As Frank, Dennis Quaid gives a controlled and restrained performance. Todd Haynes’s film is not socially progressive film. It doesn’t take any specific stand on homosexuality. It is a tribute to 1950s melodramatic films and it is made exactly the way it should have been made during that period.





Cria Cuervos

cria cuervos
Ana (Ana Torrent) is convinced she poisoned her own father, and keeps getting strange visits from the ghost of her mom (Geraldine Chaplin). She holds her father responsible for the illness and painful death of her mother. Her aunt arrives to take care of the girls but unlike her sisters Ana doesn’t subscribe to her aunt’s disciplinarian ways and begins to imagine her death as well. The all female household is completed by the children’s grandmother, mute and unmoving in a wheelchair, and the weird housekeeper Rosa. As Cria Cuervos’s uneventful narrative unfolds, the dead parents continue to appear unpredictably in the present. Raised under their aunt Paulina, Ana and her sisters retreat into make-believe, dressing up as soldiers and lovers, and dancing to a song called past Porque te vas. The film is all about children and their loss of innocence by being corrupted by the adults around them; yet it is also about how their innocence causes them to not understand the concepts such as infidelity or death. Ana does not understand the difference between death and mere absence. She attempts to murder her aunt. She washes her father’s glass of poison (or at least what she believes is poison) without a hint of remorse.

As an allegorical drama, Cría Cuervos serves as a chilling yet beautiful counter to the repressive Franco regime, which director Carlos Saura was in opposition to. The Franco regime had implemented strict censors on anything that would cause Spain to be seen in a bad light. The only way these expressions would be able to get Franco’s censorship was through the use of careful metaphors and symbols.



Newton (Rajkummar Rao) is sent off for election duty in a Naxal- heavy area. He is an honest and idealist person. But his idealism is his limitations as well. In Dandakaranya, he meets a sharp but little ill-tempered commander Aatma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) . From the moment, Newton and his fellow officers Loknath (Raghubir Yadav) and Shamboo land in the location, there is a friction. A local booth-level officer Malko (Anjali Patil) joins them there. Newton is honest and he wants a fair election. But how does it matter when things won’t change? how does it matter when the locals don’t have clear idea about the candidates?

When Newton tries to tell an officer how the entire day of voting didn’t make sense, Officer asks him “was there any instance of fake voting”? U will end up feeling for the character Newton but he is also guilty for such situation . He is at-the-end ” by-the-book-idealist”. And here lies the brilliance of the script.  In one scene, Malko (Anjali Patil) tells Newton ” The history of jungle is older than the history of democracy”.  Loknath (Raghubir Yadav) is an adjusting ever practical public. He is also a writer . Aatma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) tells Newton that no one cares about the election . He is only concerned about finishing the voting process early. I did like the slow-paced narrative at first half.  U will wait for something to happen but ultimately nothing happens.  This isn’t a radical film as such. It makes a mockery of democracy , state and the lead character but it refuses to take any stand.  I did like the melodramatic approach at ending.  It was needed to make Newton look ridiculous. Rajkummar Rao is brilliant as the main protagonist of this film. It was good to see Raghubir Yadav getting a good role after a long time. I have always been his fan. He is such a natural actor. Anjali Patil was brilliant in the role of local officer. But the best performer of the film is Pankaj Tripathi. Tripathi is such a brilliant actor that his mere presence brings a character alive on screen.

Carrie (1976)

Carrie 4
Telekinesis means the ability to move objects at a distance by mental power, or by other non-physical means. When high school girl Carrie white (Sissy Spacek)  experiences her first period in the gym at school, the other girls make fun of the young woman’s fear and ridicule her.  She lives in a gloomy ruinous house where she is dominated by her mother (Piper Laurie), a sexually repressed religious fanatic.  She has the power to move objects.  Her mother has left Carrie unprepared for a harsh world constantly being pelted with religious fanatical teachings. When Sue (Amy Irving) convinces her boyfriend Tommy Ross to take Carrie to the prom to make up for her part in the showers, disgraced popular girl Chris (Nancy Allen) and her abusive boyfriend Billy (John Travolta) take it upon themselves to teach Carrie a lesson. Sissy Spacek’s  performance is easily a standout in the cast rivaled only by Piper Laurie, but the entire cast seems eerily aware that they are in a horror film masquerading as a dark fairy tale – and it works. In this film, De Palma discovered that his destructive sense of humor could be synthesized with his graceful visual sensibilities in a manner that would highlight both. She is not allowed to go outside of the house other than to go to school, she is not allowed to date boys, and she certainly is not allowed to question anything that has to do with her coming maturation into womanhood. As is the case in most De Palma films, the technical credits are superb. The cinematography (by Mario Tosi) is extremely effective; colors and shadows have been shot effectively here. Carrie was also very creepy. The scenes with her mother was really scary.

The man who knew too much (1956)

The man who knew too much 1956

The original “The Man Who Knew Too Much” brought Alfred Hitchcock acclaim for the first time outside of the United Kingdom.  Of course part of the reason for the acclaim was that people marveled how Hitchcock on such a medium budget as compared to lavish Hollywood products was able to provide so much on the screen.  The original film was shot inside a studio. Hitchcock now with an international reputation and a big Hollywood studio behind him (Paramount) decided to see what The Man Who Knew Too Much would be like with a lavish budget. This is shot on location in Marrakesh and London and has two big international names for box office. This was James Stewart’s third of four Hitchcock films and his only teaming with Doris Day. Day and Stewart are on vacation with their son Christopher Olsen in Morocco and they make the acquaintance of Frenchman Daniel Gelin and the aforementioned English couple, Bernard Miles and Brenda DaBanzie. Gelin is stabbed in the back at a market place and just before dying he whispers some words to Stewart about an assassination to take place in Albert Hall in London.
The original film had Peter Lorre playing the villain. This film doesn’t benefit from his presence, unfortunately, but that is made up for by performances from the amazing James Stewart, and Doris Day.  Stewart conveys all the courage, conviction and heartbreak of a man that has lost his child and would do anything to get him back brilliantly. Doris Day was as good as Jimmy Stewart.  I’m enthralled by the enthusiasm and the energy that she puts behind her performance. Hitch mounted an elaborate remake which lacks the original’s crisp pace, but makes up for it with star value, sumptuous colour and sustained suspense.

The man who knew too much (1934)


The Man Who Knew Too Much is a 1934 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Later Hitchcock remade the film after 20 years with James Stewart as male lead. Both versions have been brilliant for different reasons. The plot of both films is roughly the same: holidaying overseas, the father of a young girl stumbles upon a secret of international importance. In order to keep him quiet, some foreign agents kidnap the child and ship her back to London, where the father and his long-suffering wife pick up the trail and try to find out their child.  Edna Best and Leslie Banks star as Jill and Bob Lawrence, a couple on holiday in the Swiss Alps with their teenage daughter Betty (Nova Pilbeam). When their friend Louis Bernard (Pierre Fresnay) is shot while dancing with Jill, he tells Bob of an assassination about to take place in London. Fearing that their plot will be revealed, the assassins, led by vicious Abbott (Peter Lorre), kidnap the daughter in order to keep her father quiet. From the very start, we notice that it’s Jill who is taking the more active hero role, by virtue of the fact that she’s participating in a sharp shooting competition. Bob, on the other hand, is left to spend time with his daughter. Most of Jill’s scenes are with other men, while Bob spends the majority of the film separated from her – on the hunt for his kid or in the custody of the villains.
The performances by the actors are of high quality, with Leslie Banks leading the cast with his charming presence and very British wit. His ability to mix drama with comedy makes his character a very real and likable person. Edna Best is spectacular as tough and charming woman. But the real star of the film is the amazing Peter Lorre as the leader of the conspirators. In his first work in English, Lorre shows off his enormous talent and steals every single scene he appears in the film. The Man Who Knew Too Much” is probably the first of his movies that truly can be considered as representative Hitchcock film, as his style is finally shaped in this film. Visually, the movie is a joy, as with the excellent work by cinematographer Curt Courant, Hitchcock shows the influence of German expressionism in his work and creates wonderful images of striking contrast between light and shadows. His mastery of suspense shines in many scenes of the film, particularly in an impressive sequence that serves as climax of the film. The remake was equally brilliant with the great James Stewart as lead. I will write my next review about it.

Hamraaz (1967)


Hamraaz is a BR Films production and a fine example of the high entertainment value that characterises BR Chopra’s films. Meena (Vimi) married a military officer Rajesh (Raj Kumar). Rajesh is sent to China border and is declared killed.  In the meantime, Meena’s father (Manmohan Krishnan) discovers that her daughter is pregnant. Fate is at play. Popular stage actor Kumar (Sunil Dutt) from Bombay visits Darjeeling. Kumar and Meena fall in love ,get married and move to Bombay. After four years, Meena’s past returns to haunt her. Kumar gets suspicious as she begins to avoid him. During the turn of events, Meena gets killed and inspector Ashok (Balraj Sahni) suspects Kumar’s involvement. Saahir Ludhianvi has written five songs for this film and Ravi has composed music for them. I loved two songs, one of them is- “Tum Agar Saath Dene Ka Vaada Karo, Main Yun Hi Mast Naghme Lutaata Rahoon ” and the other one is “Na Munh Chhupa Ke Jiyo Aur Na Sar Jhuka Ke Jiyo”. All these five songs are over within the first hour of the film and immediately thereafter we find ourselves enveloped in a suspense thriller lasting till the end.
The white-shoes of the mysterious person whose identity is revealed just before the climax, is something unforgettable for the viewers. The style is heavily influenced by classic Hollywood films but for a Hollywood lover like me,it’s a great experience. Here is a thriller where songs don’t impede the growth of suspense as the songs take the narrative forward, a quality we miss these days. I consider Sunil Dutt an average actor at best. But in this film ,he gets most screen-time and he does justice to it. He was really convincing as an insecure husband. I guess male actors are capable of depicting insecure lover more often than not. Raj Kumar’s stylized acting fits in this film. Balraj Sahni was excellent as inspector Ashok. Unfortunately Vimi was weakest link in that film.  If u love thrillers with touch of melodrama, u will enjoy it.