Aug 8, 2017

13th Aug 2017 ; Alfred Hitchcock's REBECCA




 

13th August, Sunday - Hitchcock's birthday
REBECCA
A film by Alfred Hitchcock
Based on Daphne Du Maurier's celebrated novel
1940/ USA/ 130 minutes
5.45 pm / Perks Mini Theater

The story begins in Monte Carlo, where a young woman (Joan Fontaine) is making her living as the paid companion of a rich American lady. While the lady is abed with the flu, the young woman meets and is captivated by a gentleman from Cornwall, Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier). He's brooding and handsome and she falls madly in love with him and he apparently with her. 

 Their whirlwind romance leads to a marriage and he brings her home as "the second Mrs. de Winter." This is not the first time Maxim has been married. His previous wife, Rebecca, died in a boating accident several years ago and her death is said to have broken him. 

 The new Mrs. de Winter does not find it easy going being the mistress of Manderlay, her husband's vast estate. Meanwhile, the memory of Rebecca, palpable as a specter, haunts the mansion. Rebecca falls neatly into the three-act pattern that defines many classic Hollywood stories. The first portion is a simple love story. It is told with tenderness and feeling and illustrates that if Hitchcock had wanted to, he could have been a great director of big Hollywood romances. 

The second act, which encompasses the second Mrs. de Winter's uneasy relationship with Manderlay and its servants, her "battle" with Rebecca, and Maxim's revelation of the truth, is more typically Hitchcockian than the rest of the movie. The director uses camera angles, editing, and music to emphasize the lead character's claustrophobia as it escalates to near-hysteria. Finally, the third section is part police procedural and part drama as the movie accelerates to its logical conclusion.

Hitchcock shows superb technical control and attends to his trademark motifs, from monstrous mother figures to the fetishisation of clothing (strong foreshadowings of ‘Vertigo’). The reason Rebecca still grips lies in the fact that we can all see ourselves in Fontaine's role: everyone plunged into a new and unfamiliar milieu has felt her uncertainty and fear that they are the wrong person, in the wrong place. Rebecca marks the most decisive single step both in Hitchcock’s career. This is Hitchcock's first movie after he moved to America from England. The experience opened whole new vistas of thematic and emotional expression, stimulating Hitchcock’s professional ambition and expanding his artistic aspirations. The result exhibits that the director is capable of a range few would credit him with. With Rebecca, he illustrates an aptitude for crafting not only psychological terror but drama and romance. (Source : Internet )
 


 

ALFRED HITCHCOCK

He was known to his audiences as the 'Master of Suspense' and what Hitchcock mastered was not only the art of making films but also the task of taming his own raging imagination. Director of such works as Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds and The 39 steps, Hitchcock told his stories through intelligent plots witty dialogue and a spoonful of mystery and murder. In doing so, he inspired a new generation of filmmakers and revolutionized the thriller genre, making him a legend around the world. Hitchcock was eccentric, demanding, inventive, impassioned and he had a great sense of British humor.
Hitchcock had his first shot of being the director of a film in 1923 when he was to direct the film "The Number 13", though the production was stopped. Hitchcock didn't give up then. He directed a film called "The Pleasure Garden" in 1925, a British/German production, which was very popular. In 1926, Hitchcock made his first notable film, "The Lodger". In the same year on the 2nd of December, Hitchcock married Alma Reville. They had one child called Patricia Hitchcock (born 7th July 1928).

His success followed when he made a number of films in Britain such as "The Lady Vanishes" (1938) and Jamaica Inn (1939), some of them which also made him famous in the USA. David O. Selznick, an American producer at the time, got in touch with Hitchcock and the Hitchcock family moved to the USA to direct an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (1940). It was when Saboteur (1942) was made, that films companies began to call his films after him; such as Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock's Family Plot, Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy. He retired soon after making Family Plot (1976). In late 1979, Hitchcock was knighted, making him Sir Alfred Hitchcock. On the 29th April 1980, 9:17AM, he died peacefully in his sleep.


Jul 12, 2017

16th July 2017 - GRADUATION



 

GRADUATION
A Film by Cristian Mungiu
2016, Romania, 123 minutes
16th July, 5.45 pm , Perks Mini Theater
http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.in/



A fascinating and fastidiously complex study of one man’s moral choices at a crucial juncture in his life, Cristian Mungiu’s “Graduation” is a thoroughgoing masterpiece which offers proof that Romania’s cinematic upsurge remains the most vital and important national film movement of the current century.  
Mungiu’s protagonist this time is a doctor named Romeo Aldea, who is about to turn 50, which means that he’s reached a certain mid-point in life: young enough to have an aged mother needing his attention, old enough to have a daughter about to graduate from high school. Other signs of mid-life’s challenges: he’s got a wife who’s as romantically alienated from him as he is from her and a mistress who’s threatening to end things if he doesn’t leave the wife for her. Of these four women, it’s the daughter, Eliza, who becomes the film’s dramatic crux as the story begins.
Romeo  tries to take measures into his own hands when he starts to fear his daughter won’t score the high grades she needs on her final exams. Believing that a scholarship to a British university is the girl’s best chance to flee the corruption and despair of their own country, he finds himself becoming what he hates most – someone who tries to game a corrupt system. But this is not a man who suddenly finds his worldviews compromised; rather, he fancies himself an idealist, above deceit and graft. 
Mungiu’s characters are never really clean, however. The system around them sucks, but they’re part of that system, too. In Graduation, that realization slowly sneaks up on you. The film pulls you into the characters’ competing webs of lies, but it never loses sight of their self-justifications. The people of “Graduation” are all very believable, both persuasively Romanian and recognizable to anyone in the middle-class West. Which is to say that Mungiu shows us lives that reflect certain looming social forces but that also are too messy and individual to add up to neat moral lessons. (Source:Internet )
 

Cristian Mungiu

Cristian Mungiu was born in Iași, in 1968. After studying English Literature at university, he worked as a teacher and journalist for the written press, radio and television. He then attended the Film and Theatre Academy in Bucharest and first feature film, Occident, premiered at the Directors’ Fortnight in 2002 and was a triumph back in Romania. In 2007, his second film, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days was awarded the Palme d’or. The film received and won several international distinctions.or. He returned to Cannes in 2009 as a writer-producer-co-director with the collective film Tales from the Golden Age and as a writer-director in 2012 with Beyond the Hills – double awarded for Best Screenplay and Best Actresses. He was a member of the Jury headed by Steven Spielberg at the 66th Festival de Cannes (2013). Graduation – his fifth film presented in Cannes – won the award for Best Director in 2016. -  http://www.festival-cannes.com


Jun 7, 2017

11th June 2017; Max Ophuls - The Earrings of Madame de…



  
 

The Earrings of Madame de...
A film by Max Ophuls
Starring Vittorio De Sica
1953/  France – Italy/ 105 minutes
5.45 pm at Perks Mini Theater
http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.in

“The Earrings of Madame de...,” directed in 1953 by Max Ophuls , is one of the most mannered and contrived love movies ever filmed. It glitters and dazzles, and beneath the artifice it creates a heart, and breaks it. The film is famous for its elaborate camera movements, its graceful style, its sets, its costumes and of course its jewelry. It stars Danielle Darrieux , Charles Boyer and Vittorio De Sica , who effortlessly embody elegance. The story takes place in Vienna a century or so ago. The General (Boyer) has married late, and well, to Louisa (Darrieux), a great beauty. He gives her expensive diamond earrings as a wedding present. She sells them to meet her debts.  Then fate takes over. She meets the handsome Baron. Their tragedy is that the intensity of her love carries her outside the rules, while the Baron remains safely in-bounds.In this charming film, the travels of a the pair of heart-shaped diamond earrings of Louisa impel the plot.


Louisa and her husband live in a society where love affairs are more or less expected; “your suitors get on my nerves,” the General fusses as they leave a party. If they do not know specifically who their spouse is flirting with, they know generally. But there is a code in such affairs, and the code permits sex, but not love. “Our marriage is only superficially superficial,” says Monsieur de, played by Charles Boyer (in his first French film since before the war), as he gingerly approaches the subject of her new lover with his flighty, distracted wife. For Louisa, the earrings teach a lesson. She is no more morally to blame than her husband or her lover, if only adultery is at stake. But if the General's honor is the question--if being gossiped about by the silly admiral's wife is the result--then she is to blame. 
In the end nothing remains of Madame de except for the pair of earrings — diamonds cut in the shape of a heart — which she leaves behind as an offering in a dank neighborhood church. But as Ophüls’s camera closes in on them, moving across the empty church to the glass case that contains them, marked with a silver plaque with her name, we see the diamonds have become her: glittering, transparent, icily beautiful, they are now illuminated by a flickering candle, a trembling spirit that nothing can erase. This ending, one of the most beautiful in the movies, contains the essence of Ophüls’s art. 
(Source: Internet)
Max Ophuls (1902-1957)
Max Ophuls (1902-1957) was a German who made films in Germany, Hollywood and France. His career was used by the critic Andrew Sarris as a foundation-stone of his auteur theory. Sarris famously advised moviegoers to value thehowof a movie more than thewhat. The story and message are not as important, he said, as the style and art. In Ophuls, he had a good test case, because Ophuls is seemingly the director most obsessed with surfaces, with the visual look, with elaborate camera movements. He was dismissed by many as nothing more than a fancy stylist, and it took Sarris (and the French auteurists) to show what a master he was.

His films are one of the great pleasures of the cinema. "Madame de..." is equaled by “La Ronde” (1950) and "Lola Montes" (1955) as movies whose surfaces are a voluptuous pleasure to watch, regardless of whether you choose to plunge into their depths. The long, impossibly complex opening shot of “La Ronde,” with the narrator introducing us to the story and even singing a little song, is one of the treasures of the movies. And who else has such romantic boldness that he will show Louisa writing her Baron day after day, with no letter back, and then have him tell her when they finally meet: “I always answered your letters, my love--but I lacked the courage to mail them.” And then to show his unmailed letters torn into bits and flung into the air to become snow.


Apr 26, 2017

30th April 2017 : Kor-eda's AFTER THE STORM


AFTER THE STORM
A film by Hirokazu Kore-eda
2016/ Japan/ 117minutes/
5.45pm/ 30th April 2017/ Perks Mini Theater
http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.nl/


AFTER THE STORM is a sobering, transcendent tale of a divorced man’s efforts to nudge back into his son’s life. The main story belongs to Ryota. He is a prize-winning novelist who hasn’t published anything for 15 years and is currently working in a private detective agency. His family life is shattered after the divorce. He longs to be with his son. He tries to make amends with his ex-wife. Nothing seems to work.


Ryota asks many questions over the course of 'After the Storm'. The most prominent, perhaps, is "Why did my life turn out like this?" Fate brings the family together for a few hours with Ryota's mother. After the Storm's director Hirokazu Kore-eda is at his best in moments of togetherness, an artist who believes in the power of family without advocating for a return to the womb.

Acclaimed Japanese filmmaker  Kore-eda's stories, such as they are, unfold in unlikely ways. He doesn't play so much with structure, but with focus: He'll allow a scene to go on and on before slipping in a crucial bit of narrative information that sends the story off in a new direction. We can lose ourselves in these films — wondering what's around every corner and what's going on in the mind of even the most minor of characters.  AFTER THE STORM is Kore-eda's achingly beautiful ode to the quiet complexities of family life. 
(Source: Internet)





Hirokazu Koreeda

Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda was born in Tokyo in 1962. Originally intended to be a novelist, but after graduating from Waseda University in 1987 went on to become an assistant director at TV Man Union. Sneaked off set to film _Lessons from a Calf (1991)_. His first feature, Maboroshi no hikari (1995), based on a Teru Miyamoto novel and drawn from his own experiences whilst filming _August Without Him (1994)_, won jury prizes at Venice and Chicago. The main themes of his oeuvre include memory and loss, death and loss, and the intersection of documentary and fictional narratives.


In a short period of time, Hirozaku Koreeda has gained a solid reputation as one of the most significant figures of contemporary Japanese cinema. His oeuvre is currently comprised of eight films including his television documentary work with TV Man Union, Inc. and his narrative films (After Life, Maborosi) which reflect the contemplative style and pacing of such luminaries as Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Tsai Ming-liang. He has become a cinematographic tightrope walker who almost unnoticeably switches between fictitious and real territories, between narration and invention, the private and the public.