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

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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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

बच्चन सिनेमा और उसकी ईर्ष्यालु संतति- गिरिराज किराडू

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अनुराग कश्यप ने सिनेमा की जैसी बौद्धिक संभावनाएं जगाई थीं उनकी फ़िल्में उन संभावनाओं पर वैसी खरी नहीं उतर पाती हैं.’गैंग्स ऑफ वासेपुर’ का भी वही हाल हुआ. इस फिल्म ने सिनेमा देखने वाले बौद्धिक समाज को सबसे अधिक निराश किया है. हमारे विशेष आग्रह पर कवि-संपादक-आलोचक गिरिराज किराडू ने इस फिल्म का विश्लेषण किया है, अपने निराले अंदाज में- जानकी पुल.
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[गैंग्स ऑफ वासेपुर की ‘कला’ के बारे में बात करना उसके फरेब में आना है, उसके बारे में उस तरह से बात करना है जैसे वह चाहती है कि उसके बारे में बात की जाए. समीरा मखमलबाफ़ की ‘तख़्त-ए-सियाह’ के बाद फिल्म पर लिखने का पहला अवसर है. गर्मियों की छुट्टियाँ थीं, दो बार (एक बार सिंगल स्क्रीन एक बार मल्टीप्लेक्स) देखने जितना समय था और सबसे ऊपर जानकीपुल संपादक का हुक्म था]
अमिताभ बच्चन अपनी फिल्मों में ‘बदला’ लेने में नाकाम नहीं होता. तब तो बिल्कुल नहीं जब वह बदला लेने के लिए अपराधी बन जाय. बदला लेने में कामयाब होना उन कई फार्मूलों में से एक अहम फार्मूला है जो अमिताभ बच्चन के सिनेमा ने बनाया. और यह फार्मूला – ‘व्यक्तिगत’ स्पेस में हुए अन्याय का प्रतिकार कानून और सामाजिक नैतिकता = स्टेट की मशीनरी से बाहर जा कर ही संभव है उर्फ अपराधी होना एंटी-स्टेट होना है – उन कई फार्मूलों में से एक है जिन पर गैंग्स ऑफ वासेपुर बनी है. ‘मर्दानगी’ का ‘प्रदर्शनवाद’ (एग्जिबिशनिज्म) और उसका सफल कमोडिफिकेशन; स्त्री-‘बोल्डनेस’ के दो बेसिक प्रकारों – एरोटिक (दुर्गा) और लिंग्विस्टिक (नग्मा) – का उतना ही सफल कमोडिफिकेशन और ज़बरदस्त संगीत (चाहे वह हमेशा संगत न हो) ऐसे ही कुछ दीगर फार्मूले हैं जिन पर यह फिल्म बनी है, वैसे ही जैसे बहुत सारी फिल्में बनती आयी हैं….

Image from Polanski’s “Venus in Fur”

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Roman Polanski‘s new film Venus in Fur, which is based on the play by David Ives and centers on an actress’ attempts to convince a director she’s perfect for a role in his upcoming production.

The film is set to play in competition at Cannes this year and the last time Polanski held such an honor was in 2002 where his film, The Pianist, went on to win the Palme d’Or.

Along with Polanski’s wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, the film co-stars Mathieu Amalric and was shot entirely in French.

Image from “The Congress” (Director is Ari Folman of ‘Waltz with Bashir’ fame)

Anurag Kashyap is also one of the co-producers of the film. It premiers at Cannes this year and it seems to be another feather in Kashyap’s cap. Since Waltz With Bashir is one of the finest and profoundest animation films to have ever been made anywhere this one too seems to be a compulsive watch. This part-animation, part live-action film is based on Stanisław Lem’s novel, The Futurological Congress, from 1971

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Synopsis :

Robin Wright (Robin Wright) receives an offer from Miramount to be scanned. In this way, her alias can be freely exploited in all films the Hollywood major decides to produce, even the most downmarket ones, the ones she has turned down until now. For 20 years she disappears to return as guest of honor at the Miramount-Nagasaki Convention in a  transformed world of fantastical appearances.

Some memorable title-credit sequences in Indian cinema

 

Johnny Gaddaar- Starts from the 2:40 mark

 

MORE HERE-