I once again take this platform to share micro views on cinematic works of various kinds ; works with big hearts and great sensitivity that unveil social realities with a flair for effective storytelling, an eye for realism and imaginative screenwriting besides providing food for thought.
So here is another cinematic collage compiled by this cinephile. The core of versitality is striking in all cases.
ZOOTOPIA, THE GOOD DINOSAUR
Animation films have endured for ages and there is a valid reason for it. The brisk, supremely imaginative scheme of things have an uncanny ability to create humane micro worlds taken from urgent real life cues and social allegories become truly impactful when the child like innocence directly tugs at our heartstrings, reminding us of all we need to preserve and have lost in the adult world.
ZOOTOPIA and THE GOOD DINOSAUR, both of them instant classics from the Disney /Pixar enterprise, capture the way human emotions and those of animals and birds- God’s dear creatures – are essentially the same, through the anthropomorphic lens. The former celebrates a yearning for plurality within its titular metropolis, in the process tilting its concerns to frissons within our urban landscapes, while introducing us to its plucky female officer (voiced brilliantly by Ginnifer Goodwin) within an establishment where those who are taller than her and predominantly male rule the roost.
THE GOOD DINOSAUR imagines a pre – historic world where humans and dinosaurs thrived and in its tale of bonding between junior representatives of both groups designs a survival saga of deeply felt emotions that had me uncontrollably bawl like a child. But that is essential, cathartic and beautiful.
Both of these are visual marvels and give us a nuanced message about the essential goodness in all of us. That’s much more worthy and hundred times more exacting than features with flesh and blood humans.
PHILADELPHIA and FORREST GUMP
Tom Hanks disseminates his unique gift of embodying an individual soulful persona with such grace on both these simultaneous Oscar winners that watching them turned out to be a Godsend to this writer ; I had longed to watch both of these since ages.
In Philadelphia, his fight for dignity at the height of the AIDS crisis is remarkably life affirming yet conscious of the slow passage towards death and as directed by the late great Jonathan Demme, each individual player with stakes in his well being gets a due spotlight. Watch his scene where he surrenders to the operatic tenor of Maria Callas . He and Denzel Washington are pure talents in that one instance alone.
FORREST GUMP is an epic tale of one man overcoming his developmental limitations with oodles of lifelong hope transferred to him by dint of his Mama(Sally Field) , friends( Mykelti Williamson and Gary Sinise) and a true soulmate in Robin Wright whose tragedy is offset by an equal never say die attitude. Robert Zemeckis masterfully, with great access, directs this decades worth of material pertaining to one man’s life, with a touch that has made it one of the greats. I always thought this was a real life tale and the fact that it’s fictional and wholly original is even better. Like YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, FORREST GUMP reveals a nation’s panorama through its people.
JOAN DIDION : THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD
This documentary is attuned to the sedate, detached and unobtrusive worldview of one of the modern world’s greatest chroniclers.
Down to her relating the scene of a pre – teen on drugs as “pure journalism gold” to the pain of losing her only daughter, JOAN DIDION : THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD is about the accents of culture, the passing away of eras and the haunting voice of the writer, committed to essaying society beyond archetypes of privilege. Every influence shapes her still, to this day and age .
THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
The Coen Brothers go back to America’s frontier days and with an eye for cadences of dialogue,silent broil within serene frames and the thrill of personages eking out a less than modest living, this Netflix original is chapterized like a book of short fiction. It succeeds splendidly owing to its cinematographic essences as for the mood and execution of multiple moral impulses, sometimes comic, of the given moment at others but largely informed by sad conclusions amid natural vistas .
Zoe Kazan, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Tim Blake Nelson and James Franco, among others, make it worthwhile.
THE GODFATHER PARTS 2&3
I will soon share one of my articles on THE GODFATHER that I had written three years back. Suffice to say, this trilogy directed by Francis Ford Coppola unveiled the bottomless pit of human amorality like never before.
I had the good fortune of seeing the middle and final parts of the trilogy respectively in 2018 where the Corleone family’s amoral leanings, informed by history, immigration, repression and many pronged idea of justice gets wrested by the youngest son (Al Pacino) adjunct with the almost elemental journey of father Vito (Robert De Niro) to New York circa early 20th century. Crime has a way of catching up with even the safest players and in the 1990 series finale, Michael Corleone finally lets out a gasp of utter desolation as his beloved daughter ( Sofia Coppola) gets in the crossfire.
The final works create a spell, hold us in thrall at the realism of it all and the play of darkness over individual lives is omnipotent, reminding us of how seeds of discord can only sprout a malevolent garden of sin and compromised reformation.
This utterly gripping courtroom drama was one I watched years ago and its visceral impact continues to haunt me. It was among the first to integrate religious crimes of passion, the matrix of corruption among the establishment and how one misdeed leads to darker alleys of mental manipulation by others .
Richard Gere is sublime as ever, the genius of Laura Linney is among the first I received here while Edward Norton is astounding, creating an uneasy resolution for the very idea of law and the ones who are wronged. Engrossing fare indeed.
This ensemble comedic joyride is absolutely memorable as its potion of friendship, patches of personal downturns, insecurity and distance between childhood pals, especially when the idea of marriage looms on the horizon for one of the two, is vital and one for the ages.
It’s the honesty here besides the pitch perfect performances that seals its layered look at interpersonal relationships among the same gender. BRIDESMAIDS has handful of stark truths and poignancy to complement its ‘look in the mirror’ progression.
LA LA LAND
This is one of the most charming, heartbreaking, amorous celebrations of the pitfalls one encounters on the way to success. That in itself is a novelty. Its musical interludes heighten that journey without being there for distraction and the leads suffuse it with magic.
LA LA LAND is set in the land of Hollywood and enhances its innocent, musical air for an inward reflection on the value of dreams and their unexpected payoffs. That moment where Emma Stone auditions with FOOLS WHO DREAM is beautifully vulnerable and uplifting, taking real time inspirations for screen transportation.
Hailed as a film noir, CHINATOWN’s serpentine plotting and era specific details are inescapable as is its yarn on corruption in the Los Angeles of yore.
Its vice like grip creates necessary tension and the secretive assortment of red herrings, dead ends and visual danger down to the doomed climax posits a world of hopelessness for those seeking a way in. The imagery of nighttime unspooling with its many mysteries is realized with timely agency here.
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
Darren Aronofsky never shies away from displaying medley of personalities at their very worst, basest, down in the doldrums with a slim sliver of hope.
Chances are we are unlikely to discover the tangents of drug addiction (medicinal or hallucinogenic) cutting across age groups and moral affiliations anywhere else than in this work. Cue the repetitive cutting, motions of drug use and daily activities in a kinetic pattern, capturing the point of no return and restlessness for the addicted. The ending moments hold them in oppressed positions of pain. REQUIEM means a farewell for the soul. This one lives up to its title, with eye opening and disturbing results, daring us to look at the unadulterated truth.
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
This tale of small town crime, vistas of corruption is really a contemplation of mankind’s immoral descent, its innate and implicit melancholy for the simple life echoed by Tommy Lee Jones’ Texas sheriff.
Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem are the other sides of the coin in this examination of male agency set to the cinematography of Roger Deakins and Coen Brothers’ subdued distillation of the death of humanity.
Kelly Macdonald and Tess Harper are poignantly intertwined to the differing viewpoints of their malefolk.
MY WEEK WITH MARILYN
I take these two to be joint works as both illuminate us about an era where luminously talented women were governed by time honored diktats and their artistic freedom blossomed proportional to sexist social mores.
MY WEEK WITH MARILYN relays the legendary figure portrayed impeccably by Michelle Williams while BIG EYES finds that final ray of light for discredited painter Margaret Keane and her unique artistry which somehow evaded the other mega star. Life is a struggle and the saga of triumphing against odds comes with diverse outcomes in each. AMY ADAMS is a humane, indomitable figure as Ms. Margaret.
THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
An amazingly well rounded film for the whole family, the screenplay is bursting with life, effervescence, fundamental truths and the conjoining of moods and generations.
The cast is a winner, with India’s very own ANUPAM KHER among its primary colours of representation. It’s totally worth our expectations given the talents involved.
SCENT OF A WOMAN
Another wholesome tale that swiftly builds up an arc of coming of age, AL PACINO and CHRIS O’ DONELL create a bond unlike any other, a buddy dynamic balanced by one’s youth and sober demeanor and the senior prefect’s all out charisma and fierce independence. No judgements, no barriers to discovering personalities.
I enjoyed it thoroughly and so will every cinephile. As for the title, watch it to uncover the sensual enigma occasioned by Pacino’s class act.