The entire film involves three characters in a violent game of psychological strategy. Rae (Nicole Kidman) is involved in a car crash which results in the death of her son. Her husband John (Sam Neil) suggests her to go for vacation, so that it will help them to overcome the grief. One day, they encounter a drifting boat that seems to be taking on water. A man, Hughie Warriner (Billy Zane), rows over to their boat for help. He claims that all of his friends died as his boat was sinking. John doesn’t believe his story completely. He secretly visits the other boat and finds that all of his friends are killed by Hughie. When Kidman’s son was killed in an accident, Sam was not with her. They were detached then. Later, Sam went to the other boat and his wife is left with the madman. They are detached again. The key image of “Dead Calm” is of two ships drawing near each other in the middle of a vast, empty expanse of ocean. This scene indicates that help is not going to come from anywhere and that the characters will have to settle their own destinies. Hughie is a naive psychopath. He trusts Rae as long as Rae acts well with him. Even when the trust breaks, he doesn’t try to kill her. He is violent but lacks intelligence. That is why, Rae outsmarts him at-times. But it isn’t easy as the actions take place entirely within a boat and there is no help available from outside. Dead calm generates genuine tension with minimum sound-effects. It doesn’t have much of dialogues either. Billy Zane does well as the villain. It isn’t easy playing the role as it has every chance of looking similar to a cartoon kind of character. Kidman is excellent as the emotionally distraught wife who is doing everything she can to keep it together while desperately trying to outsmart the stranger. Kidman does most of her job through her eyes. Sam Neil was ok. The atmosphere in Dead Calm is very haunting and incredibly restrained. The twist at ending was not required.
The film opens with Jen (Matilda Lutz) lazily sucking on a lollipop, having been taken away by helicopter to a remote desert location by her millionaire boyfriend Richard. Richard is a married man but he cheats his wife and he commits an affair with the mistress. Jen is hot and she is satisfied with her body. In the next day, Richard is joined by two of his friends . They are his hunting buddies. When all of them are having a party in that night, Jen starts dancing with Stan. But Stan feels that it’s an indication of sex.
In the next morning, when Richard is away, Stan tries to woo Jen but Jen clearly rejects him. Insecure Stan feels powerless and he ends up raping her. His friend covers for him. Richard comes back and hearing this, he hits Stan hard. Jen wants to go back to her house but Richard tells her to stay there. In a heated argument, Richard slaps Jen. Scared Jen escapes from the house but all three of them chase her. Richard pretends to call his pilot to take Jen home, then pushes her off a cliff. She falls unconscious and is left for dead by the three men. But Jen wakes up. The horror doesn’t come from the rapist but it comes from her most trustworthy partner.
That is the masterstroke of this film. Fargeat makes an interesting debut with her film. From the title,one can guess what this film is about. The treatment is different. Female sexuality is focal point of this film. Here, bodies become the main subject. The men are divided into parts and she reclaims her sexuality through her revenge. She only grows more powerful as she is attacked more. The lead actress Matilda Lutz looks perfect for the role. Actresses don’t need to build muscles to perform actions. It is all about the body language. She looks shaky yet determined. I don’t know if its feminist film or not. Feminists can tell it better. That is not much of my concern either.
I loved the fact that a woman director made a genre film by keeping female sexuality at the centre. To be a female director, one doesn’t always need to make a film outside mainstream territory.
Baisers volés is the third instalment in François Truffaut’s wonderful cycle of films concerning his cinematic alter ego, Antoine Doinel. Played memorably by Jean-Pierre Léaud, Antoine remains one of film history’s most enduring characters, a hopeless romantic who longs for perfection in his affairs with women and work, while finding it difficult to balance both. Here, he gets discharged from the army and then he takes few other jobs before getting finally settled as a private detective. The character of Antoine Doinel is an autobiographical extension of Truffaut. When Antoine Doinel gets discharged from the army,he laughs at the face of commanding officers. it is based on Truffaut’s own disastrous military experiences in the 1950s, when he was jailed as a deserter and eventually thrown out of the army.
Doinel celebrates his freedom by running immediately to a bordello. He tries to woo a young woman (Jade) who is initially indifferent to him but warms up when he shows signs of losing interest. He takes job as a private detective of Blady’s, which puts him as a planted spy in Monsieur Tobard’s Shoe Shop. He gets attracted to his wife Mrs Tobard (Delphine Seyrig). When Antoine loves Fabienne (the shoe shop’s owner’s wife), Christine is in love with Antoine. Every character is immersed in a love triangle.
Mrs Tobard also gets attracted to Antoine as well but for a very short period. She finds her husband unromantic and boring yet she has sympathy for him. Antoine likes to fall in love but he feels awkward in relationships. Like his previous work, this film has remarkable fluid camera movements as he gives us a breathtaking view of the eternal city and the journey Antoine is on in hopes of discovering his place. Léaud is always brilliant playing the director’s alter ego, he’s very funny, charming, very good looking.
Delphine Seyrig is brilliant in a short but very important role. She has a beautiful deep voice. During this period, May 68 revolution was taking place in Paris. In that situation, Antoine was trying to find his own feet. It is charming in its carefree tempo and disarming in its frankness about whimsical triviality.
In a prologue, we see blonde Katja (Diane Kruger) marrying jailed drug dealer Nuri Şekerci (Numan Acar). After returning from jail, Nuri corrected himself and he did set up a business. They had a happy family with a son. One day, Katja goes to a spa with her friend. While returning, she finds police barricades and learns that a bomb killed her loved ones. She is devastated totally. She tries to get back to her normal life but she couldn’t. From the investigation, it is learned that a neo-nazi group is involved in this murder. Since last few years, neo-nazi groups are creating terror in Germany. They are mostly violent towards Muslims. Katja’s friend Danilo Fava (Denis Moschitto) is prosecuting attorney, pitted against nasty defense lawyer Haberbeck (Johannes Krisch). Kruger convincingly conveys Katja’s anguish, fragility and fierce determination as a woman who has lost everything yet single-minded in a pursuit of justice that eventually turns to vengeance. The first half of the film deals with the tragedy of Katja. 2nd half deals with the court procedures. In the 3rd half, we witness the rage of a woman. The film just doesn’t focus on the terrorism issue. It also deals with the rage of a woman. Beside that, it deals with the grief of survivors. Court scenes were cleverly shot. We felt bored while watching that part. But that is how justice system works. The film cleverly used silence in crucial moments. One might hope for some action, but that is not going to happen.
Pallavi (Kitu Gidwani) , a successful classical singer trains with her mother to carry forward the Hindustani musical tradition. She is good but not as much skilled as her mother is. Her mother Karuna took training from an old man. He never performed on stage but used to give lessons to his students. When Karuna started to perform on stage , he cut off all contacts with her. He detested glamour world. The trauma of Karuna’s death, announced by the appearance of the old man and a little girl, causes Pallavi’s voice to disappear. Slowly her relationship with her husband (Bhaveen Gosain) becomes strained. She slowly loses her students and her career takes a backseat. Retreating into solitude, she finds the little girl Tara (Roshan Bano) again. Much of the music was composed by Shubha Mudgal, a classical singer who studied in the guru-disciple tradition. Director Rajan Khosa used music in crucial points to capture the essence and mood of the film. The film is spiritual but it is extremely honest in it’s approach. In other words,it located in Indian culture. Khosa didn’t opt for any dishonest trick to make it global.
Yet, it has an universal appeal. He is aided by fine technical work all around, from Piyush Shah’s soft-hued lensing to Amardeep Behl’s quietly refined production design. I always liked to watch KItu Gidwani. She has been an extremely talented actress. Instinct affects her acting more than anything else. Bhaveen Gosain is known in theatre circuits. He just did this film only. Here, he gives a very convincing performance as a caring husband. Vinod Nagpal shines in a very short role.
Immigration enforcement agent Charlie Smith (Jack Nicholson) lives with his wife in California in a small house. She forces him to move to a duplex in El Paso shared by border agent Cat (Harvey Keitel). Marcy wants to live a rich life and Charlie’s current wages won’t cover it. Cat gives him an offer to join him in a shady business. He introduces Charlie to the human smuggling operation he runs with their supervisor Red.
He uses this partnership to help a young Mexican woman, Maria, get across the Tex-Mex border along with her younger brother and her baby. Nicholson is constantly at odds with his bimbo wife (Perrine, perfectly annoying) and his morally corrupt partner (Keitel as always menacing). This is one of the few films which dealt with the issue of USA-Mexican border. It handles the human smuggling issue in details. After Charlie decides to join hands with Cat, the drama increases. While Cat is a perfect bad guy,Charlie still has some morals. It was never clear if Charlie loved his wife or not.
But the kind of guy is ,he will never cheat her. With time, he develops a special feeling towards Maria but that is only limited to feelings. Jack Nicholson here plays a totally subdued character and he plays it with elan. Valerie Perrine is superb as the annoying wife while Elpidia Carrillo does her job by slightly changing her facial expressions.
Harvey Keitel is as always dependable. The direction by Tony Richardson , is at times inspired and artistic, and at other times as ordinary as dishwater. Still, as a snapshot of poor Mexican immigrants (and would-be immigrants) as they clash with the border patrol culture twenty-some years ago,The Border is definitely worth a look.
In 70s and 80s, plenty of Indian directors made social-realistic films. Some of the notable directors were Shyam Benegal, Govind nihalani, Nabyendu chatterjee and Utpalendu Chakraborty. Utpalendu Chakrabarty made very few films in his career. His last film was 25 years ago. Even then, not all of his films are available. But if one watches Chokh and Debshishu , he/she will be convinced about his great skills and mastery over the medium. In the opening scene, we see a middle-aged guy announcing arrival of a debshishu (child god) in a remote village. The child god fulfils wishes of people. A couple Raghubir and Seeta (Sadhu Meher and Smita patil) arrive at the village with their only child. They have lost everything in flood. Seeta comes to stay at her brother’s house for few days. However,brother’s wife (Rohini Hattagandi) turns out to be very cruel and insensitive towards them. Still, they manage to get a room in their house. Raghubir realises that he can’t stay here for long. Soon,he has to find a job and a house of his own. One day, while going to market, he hears about debshishu (child-god). He visits there hoping that his wishes will be fulfilled. There he sees a magician (Om Puri). He remembers him showing magic in his village. When Raghubir and Seeta’s deformed bay was born, he went to his house to ask for help. The villagers warned Raghubir that if his baby is not killed,they will force them to leave the village. According to them, the baby will bring bad luck to the village. The magician told him to sell the baby to them and he will compensate it by giving good money in return. Raghubir follows his order. Raghubir realises that the child god is his deformed baby.
Let me tell you, this film is much different in content and form than other good social-realist films belonging to that particular period. Caste system,poverty,religion all are mixed here in a bizarre (important word) manner. While i do like most social-realist films of that period,very few of them did display the complexity of oppression. It isn’t just limited to landlords or wealthy ,powerful people oppressing others. The reality is bizarre and that is what this film is. The film highlighted how gods are born and how the poor people are forced to believe on its existence more. Sadhu Meher has been exceptional. Smita Patil and Om Puri are dependable. Utpalendu was a gem of a director and to me one of the most important ones along With Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani. He used two flashbacks in the film. One of them was done in black and white to capture image of the rain more realistically. Another one was in colour when Sadhu Meher will visit Om Puri’s house.