Posters from Tamil film “Jigarthanda”

Quite like the posters. It is directed by Karthik Subbaraj (of Pizza fame) and stars Siddharth and Lakshmi Menon.

 

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Jigarthanda Latest Poster - Every story has a Woman

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Sparrow- Johnnie To’s ballet with pick-pocketing

 

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I continue my obsession with this film and director’s works…

 

Johnnie To is currently the only ‘action auteur’ working in cinema anywhere in the world. And Sparrow is To’s exercise with the ‘lyrical’. It is essentially a caper-comedy playing out like a musical. And it hearkens back to French capers (To definitely has Melville on his mind in many of the film’s exquisite set-pieces).

A gang of pickpockets led by Simon Yam is beguiled by a mysterious lady on the run (Kelly Lin), and their schemes start to fall apart. As often with To, the conception of the film is slim, but the execution is rich. There are the games and competitions, the symmetries and repetitions, the offhand motifs (here, cigarettes, cigars, and pipes), the geometrical and arithmetical plot mechanics. To has become perhaps the world’s most unpretentiously, unapologetically formalist director.

It’s a procession of twists and set-pieces. There are the funny one-off shots, like the two grifters with symmetrically broken legs and the gang flashing the razor blades they hide in their mouths.

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Some sequences are unpredictable miniatures, like the scenes that show how many camera angles you can find in an elevator car, even with a fishtank squeezed in. There’s also a delirious bit with a lipstick-stained cigarette.

Other set-pieces unfold more majestically. There’s a sweeping crane shot of the gang vacuuming up wallets of passersby, and an elaborate theft of a pendant during massage therapy.

The film climaxes with a showdown between two master pickpockets, Kei (the suave Simon Yam) and Mr. Fu (Lo Hoi-pang), and their gangs in the drizzling Hong Kong night.

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The objective: Whoever ends up with the passport of the lovely Chun-lei (Kelly Lin) decides her fate. Mr. Fu wants to own her; Kei wants to set her free, much like the bird of the title (“sparrow” is also Cantonese slang for a pickpocket).

The bravura, slow-motion centerpiece sequence would seem more at home in an MGM musical than in a Hong Kong action flick. Armed with umbrellas and well-tailored suits and backed by an infectious musical score, gleaming neon lights and a downpour worthy of Gene Kelly, the pickpockets go “slingin’ in the rain”. You can watch this breathtaking sequence below-

 

 

The Sparrow is at once a loving tribute to old Hong Kong island (Simon’s hobby is black-and-white photography), an unpredictable genre piece (or a genre-bender), and an exercise in light-fingered filmmaking. It is also a lesson to the hollywood directors who think that ‘action’ is all about ‘frenzy’ and ‘mayhem’.

Ambling through sights and sounds in Sparrow (Johnnie To- 2008, Hong Kong)

 

Sound can bypass the conscious mind, working directly on our most visceral impulses such as ‘fight or flight’!

I have long believed that Johnnie To’s formal technique and his mastery in sound and visuals is second to none in contemporary world cinema. So I have decided to walk through a scene from his utterly masterful minimalist crime-thriller, Sparrow. Here is a sort of walk-through of that sequence-

 

The elusive Chun Lei (Kelly Lin) has gulled a quartet of pickpockets, and they pursue her to a rooftop. As the men explore it, we hear traffic and a distant plane, which evokes Chun Lei’s plan to flee Hong Kong.

 

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They spot her on the roof. The suggestion that she might jump is underscored by distant traffic horns.

 

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As the men approach Chun Lei, we hear distant sirens and a soft wind.

 

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An extreme long-shot of the gang provides a still broader sound canvas, with traffic sounds predominating.

 

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In a much tighter shot, as the actors come closer to the camera, the ambiance thins and softens. Now here To smartly times the traffic to underline the dialogue.” Chun Lei leans forward to kiss Bo (Lam Ka-Tung), trying to provoke the leader Kei (Simon Yam) to jealousy. We hear echoes of a passing truck, almost as a warning.

 

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Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s “Broken Horses”

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This is Vidhu Chopra’s next directorial project and his début Hollywood venture.  The cast includes Vincent D’Onofrio, Anton Yelchin, Chris Marquette, Maria Velverde, Sean Patrick Flanery and Thomas Jane. The screenplay for the film has been written by Chopra and Abhijat Joshi (of 3 Idiots and Lage Raho Munna Bhai fame).

Rest of the crew includes Oscar nominated Tom Stern (The Hunger Games, Changeling, Million Dollar Baby) as Director of Photography, Toby Corbett (Crossing Over, Bad Lieutenant) as Production Designer and Emmy nominated Mary Vogt (Men In Black 3, Batman Returns) as Costume Designer.

Plot- Set in the shadows of the US-Mexico border gang wars, Broken Horses is an epic thriller about the bonds of brotherhood, the laws of loyalty and the futility of violence.

For more on the film follow the LINK

Vintage Poster- Rocket Tarzan

 

This has to be probably the wackiest and zaniest poster I have come across as far as Hindi cinema is concerned. This piece of sublimity was apparently by a certain B. J. Patel and it was released in 1963. Sadly I can’t locate any transfer/print/copy of the film anywhere

 

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Rangan On Zanjeer

Rangan hardly ever downright trashes a film (even when he should) but it’s hilarious when he does. I don’t even need to watch this drivel to know that it absolutely deserves this. And worse. And oh, SHUT UP PRIYANKA!

http://baradwajrangan.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/zanjeer-puppet-on-a-chain/

Richard Brody (The New Yorker) on Chan-wook’s ‘Stoker’

 

I have not seen the film yet but this is an exceptionally well-written piece. A certain Chan-wook fan on the blog had promised to me that she would she would write something on it (though she can educate us on the first paragraph, or more specifically the first sentence, of this article.)- regrettably she has not even seen it till now (probably because she is deeply saddened by the news that Josh Brolin is going to do a number on his Korean counterpart in the Spike Lee directed remake of Chan-wook’s Oldboy!).

 

“Stoker”: The Fears and Fantasies of Everyteen

 

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Posted by Richard Brody

March 5, 2013

LINK

“The proper translation for Freud’s 1909 coinage “Familienroman,” or “family romance”—regarding the child’s liberation fantasy of “the replacement of both parents or of the father alone by grander people”—is actually the “family novel,” and there’s something agreeably, engagingly novelistic about “Stoker,” the South Korean director Park Chan-wook’s incursion into a cushy corner of Connecticut and the tangled-up desires, dreams, memories, and impulses of one long-deluded teen-age girl, India Stoker (played by Mia Wasikowska). What the movie most resembles is a young-adult novel, of the sort that was the subject of controversy a couple of years ago for being “too dark.” For all the movie’s melodramatic twists, hyperbolic doings, and posh surroundings, its substance is very much the fears and fantasies and family loam of Everyteen (in particular, of familiar media versions of teen-age girls).

It starts out as a variation on a theme by Alfred Hitchcock—that of “Shadow of a Doubt” and the arrival of the mysterious, glamorous, seductive, long-absent Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode). But where Hitchcock brings the uncle into a stable home that he then sets on its ear, Park and the screenwriter Wentworth Miller (with contributions by Erin Cressida Wilson) catch the family at a moment of utter vulnerability: India has just lost her father (Dermot Mulroney), with whom she was very close. Charlie, whom she had never met, finally shows up at the sumptuous and isolated family estate and ingratiates himself, rapidly and pressingly, with his brother’s widow (Nicole Kidman).

Things are quickly revealed to be even worse than they seem, as Charlie takes decisive steps to edge out of the picture anyone—the longtime housekeeper, an elderly great-aunt (Jacki Weaver)—who comes to doubt his motives. At first, it appears as if he covets both his brother’s wife and her fortune, and India becomes suspicious as well—but she also seems flickeringly jealous, and, where the young woman in Hitchcock kept her incestuous fantasies tightly contained, India avows them with a full-throated ecstasy (achieved, as it were, with yet another Hitchcockian touch). Yet the violence to which Uncle Charlie sinks is doubled by India’s own rough, physical response to a bullying classmate’s crude aggression. It’s hard to avoid spoilers at this point, but let’s leave it at this: India discovers that her parents have been concealing something very important regarding her uncle—and, given her emotionally close relationship with him, something very important about herself, about character traits that are a part of her own blood. When the truth comes out, her world is overturned, her monsters are unleashed, and she finds herself without the solid footing of character, self-knowledge, and moral clarity to fight them”…..

 

Read more HERE

 

 

Stills- Nayanthara

I was thinking that while Anu takes care of the serious and intellectual side of the blog (since she is the one with classy and cultivated tastes), I will handle the ‘silly’ bit. So here are some stills of one of the most beautiful actresses in India along with Alia, the gorgeous Nayanthara. More HERE

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More Stills HERE

The End of Simplicity- On Doordarshan’s “Farmaan” and the state of Indian TV

This one is for my co-blog owner (DD is the only thing we both seem to agree on. I admit that i had no idea about the serial before she told me about it). I found this article on a blog while randomly surfing online

The End of Simplicty

– By Reema Moudgil

http://unboxedwriters.com/2012/08/the-end-of-simplicity/

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“After years of search on YouTube, I finally stumbled upon Farmaan, a Doordarshan serial directed by Lekh Tandon. Based on the Urdu book Alampanah by Rafia Amin, the serial starring Kanwaljit Singh and Deepika Deshpande was a restless memory that even two decades could not erase. And for good reason. The story telling was honest to the spine of the book as it brought to life Hyderabad’s Nawabi culture in the throes of change, financial challenges, the disintegration of tehzeeb and more, in real havelis and high-pillared corridors, and not fake, overdone sets, And amid all this was the love story of a bitterly dark Aazar Nawab (a dapper Kanwaljit Singh) and the delightfully spunky Aiman Shahab played by Deepika Deshpande who even without fake eyelashes, loud make up and gaudy sarees looked like the kind of a girl who could challenge and reform a rake.

***
The story had the intensity, tugs and hooks of a Mills & Boon romance. Only it was much better, layered as it was with the poetry, interesting dialects, the various colours of Urdu spoken by the aristocrats and those who worked for them and then there were the authentic locations, from forests to bungalows to havelis being converted into hotels to keep up with the times. Everything rang true and it flowed without investing any worry in whether the audience would take to the story, its pace, its zubaan or its characters, some of whom were unapologetically unglamorous. And yet, here we are, still remembering it all these years later because it did not dumb down or sell out its vision. Because it aspired to be a classic and became one.”….

For MORE follow the LINK