In the Mood for Love – 2000

 

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You can add this face as a flashcard to remember ‘Melancholy’

Now I realize how hard it must be to keep track of the plot in silent movies. Su visits Chow’s apartment in Singapore. But I completely missed the fact that Chow did realize this after seeing a lipstick stained cigarette butt lying down. A critic had felt the beauty in the movie is almost a distraction. May be that’s what happened to me. The stunning lead characters (especially Maggie Cheung in that cheongsam), the slow moving camera, the worn out buildings, the rain at night, the smoke and above all the mournful cello refrain matched seamlessly with the lithe twitch of her hip are almost too pleasant for the eyes for us to ignore and follow the plot.

Tony Leung is to Wong Kar Wai what Toshiro Mifune was to Akira Kurosawa. He is considered to be one of the finest characters to come out of Hong Kong. His masculine personality with the slicked hairstyle and the range of emotions that his face exhibits, makes him really admirable.

Since the lead characters spouses are never shown I was of the opinion that every act was actually a reflection or rather a regret for the adultery that they committed before, and the unseen characters are the lead characters themselves and I was expecting a baffling twist in the plot. But the film is deceivingly simple. I’m still mulling over the question whether the film has an ulterior composition.

Im Juli – 2000

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I had a tough time accepting magic realism in the books that I read, but not in movies. This movie, for example has some, nevertheless I did enjoy it.

Juli is attracted to Daniel but she doesn’t know why. She believes that he’s got something that is waiting to come out. Indeed there was. I’m quite impressed by Moritz Bleibtreu’s acting in this movie. One other thing is how the entire movie reeks of the 2000’s. Be it the clothes, the eyeglasses, the camera, the hairstyle or the parties. I never thought the 2000’s would have an identity for itself, just like how I couldn’t visualize the image of 2010’s we are in. But there it is.

I was explaining to a friend of mine, why I crave something called gemütlichkeit. Incidentally you can witness that in a scene where Daniel takes Melek to a beach in Hamburg. Group of people around a campfire on the beach enjoying their Bier. The beach in Hamburg isn’t one of the best , in fact it doesn’t even qualify for a proper beach and I’ve heard many people complain about the Scheißwetter. But hey “it’s not where you are but who you are with that matter”.

The chaotic trip from Hamburg to Istanbul is very enjoyable to watch, but most people wouldn’t want to see themselves in such a journey. But it must be a revelation to reach a destination while you lose many things on the way.

 

Dick Tracy – 1990

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Tracy with the Thompson submachine gun

It is said that comic strips use bold colors to differentiate between things, because in retrospect they were given only limited choice for publishing. But I suppose even today people prefer limited palette because it became an indispensable quality for comic strips in general.

The makers of this movie had taken a painstaking effort to use just seven colors throughout the movie to be faithful to the original Dick Tracy comic strip published since 1931. So a fire hydrant or a car or a telephone booth uses the same shade of red. Apart from the colors, the overt matte paintings and scaled models add a unique flavor. It is unusual for a movie to be designed this way, but it’s nothing short of a visual treat. And it’s not surprising that the film won an Academy award for best Art direction.

Of all the objects that are used in this movie to signify the 1930’s era, it is the Tommy gun that stands apart. We just can’t separate it from the prohibition era. Another interesting feature in the movie are the mobsters. Almost all of them have a distinguishable physical feature matched by their names. Unfortunately this also features in Batman.

Tracy hesitating to express his intention to marry Tess and Tess waiting for Tracy to say it qualifies for a pretty good romantic moment that is delightful to watch.

The movie had received some negative criticism when it released for its weak story line. Honestly I just feel that the movie was too ahead of its time. Had it released now it would have had its golden age but still marred by CGI.

On the whole Dick Tracy had every element to become a successful movie franchise. But it never took off after the first movie due to a lengthy legal issue. We could only wish that this fantasy/action/comedy film reboots itself to something like Nolan’s Batman.

High Noon – 1952

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The three brothers of Frank Miller parade through some mid-western town on horseback to the railway station. (I can’t help but notice one of the horses tölted like an Icelandic pony). They are awaiting the arrival of their brother to take revenge on the town Marshall Will Kane. With virtually no support from the town people, Kane has to either face the four of them all by himself or escape to some other town. What will he do?
For a very long time I was curious to know why Bill Clinton had requested to screen this movie at the White house 17 times during his presidency. We tend to watch a movie or part of a movie repeatedly because we want to live those moments vicariously, maybe even try to emulate some character in real life. But even trying to get inspired by a character like Will Kane is a pretty tall order. Because it means you have to do some unpleasant things, you have to get your hands dirty for a greater good. If you are lucky, you may in your lifetime find one of these rare species that live by the saying “A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do”.
We live in a system where our action is influenced by the reward. Even people who enter a war knowing that they are likely to die, still do so because their name remains immortal long after they’ve gone. But, imagine that Will had succumbed to a bullet from Frank Miller. There wouldn’t have been a tiny bit change in the ending however. All the town people would have come out and pitifully looked at Will’s lifeless body. He would have been remembered a fool who died for nothing. That’s what makes this character metaphysically disturbing. But Will’s character is not completely devoid of any unmanly traits. He did try to fly away from the town and start a new life and the only reason he came back to face Frank is because of the possibility that he might be someday shot down disgracefully in a new town.
He could have even thought that the town people would consider him a hero had he fought against Frank without flying away. On one hand he seems to be a manly man and on the other hand he’s just a regular person who weighed his risks and benefits. This internal struggle, this conflict is clearly displayed in the eyes of Will throughout the movie. And that’s exactly what we take with us after watching this movie.

Before Midnight – 2013

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There is a new character introduced in this movie which was still unborn during the first two installments of the Before series. I’m not talking about their kids. It’s the Smartphone. Thankfully the screen writers gave only a minor role to this character lest it marred the entire script. Imagine the two characters break in between to take selfies and reply to their whatsapp messages before continuing to indulge in their philosophical perspectives.

The narrative is plain and simple, it’s linear, stream of consciousness style. It starts in the morning and ends at midnight. Much of it consists of analyzing the psychology of relationships especially marriage. Now there’s a pitfall in their conversation that almost brought their marriage to an end. That pitfall is talking about one’s own fantasies. We might not know it, but once it begins, it feeds on itself, makes us believe that we could have almost achieved our fantasies had the entire world not conspired against it. This type of conversation could be frustrating as it is mired with informal fallacies. That’s exactly where the movie pushes to towards the end. Luckily before it reached a point of no return, the lead characters look back and reach a point of anagnorisis. They get back to reality and accept it.

Angst essen Seele auf – 1974

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For a person who is 60 years old Emmi seems to be rather naive. But it’s not naivety, it’s curiosity, it’s desire. Emmi gets into the bar wishing to find good company. Ali invites Emmi for a dance wishing to find a kind-hearted German. It is these wistful desires that help Emmi and Ali to get married and discover the pain and pleasure in equal measures.

Almost all the German characters in the movie are bristling with prejudice with the sole exception of the landlord. He’s the Atticus Finch of the movie who considers such a relationship to be morally acceptable.Eventually all the characters who once rejected this couple try to get in terms with them, not because their moral compass was set straight but because they find them useful.Because they lack what is called a cognitive dissonance. They have the ability to hold the thoughts that some people are to be loathed with great disdain and tended with insincere concern in harmony.

Just when things seem to get better we see that the main characters are at odds with themselves. It is their unconscious that finally gives itself a form and takes the relationship to the brink of a collapse.Emmi realizing this tries to reconcile with Ali. She gets into the bar orders for a cola (You order something in a bar, you pay for it but you never drink it. We see this throughout the movie. I suppose that’s the bar custom in Munich), asks the bartender to play the same song for which Emmi and Ali danced for the first time. Ali distraught with losing all his money in gambling gets back to Emmi and invites her for a dance.While they dance they promise each other to do everything they could to save the relationship.

The movie ends with an incident that tests Emmi’s promise.

Das leben kann so schön sein wenn man die richtige leute kennen lernt, wann man in guter geselschaft ist.

Kill Bill: Volume 2 – 2004

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Tarantino made an influential film which takes inspiration from grindhouse genre. But little did he know that even this movie would be clubbed together with other exploitation films and run in theatres in India. I still remember when I so badly wanted to watch Anaconda 2 back in 2004, but the tickets were all sold out even in a decrepit theater. Tickets were available only for a sleazy (as suggested by the poster) movie called Kill Bill vol2. I did not watch the movie. Twelve years later when almost all his movies became a cult hit, I now watch this film with great amazement.