Mar 7, 2017

12th March 2017; Ken Loach's I, DANIEL BLAKE




I, DANIEL BLAKE 
A Film by  Ken Loach
2016/ UK/ 100 minutes
5.45pm/ 12th March / Perks Mini Theater
http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.in/



British director Ken Loach will be 80 years old in June, and he has worked in film and television for more than 50 of those years, but with his bone-deep empathy for the desperate and the downtrodden. “I, Daniel Blake” is one of Loach’s finest films, a drama of tender devastation that tells its story with an unblinking neorealist simplicity.


Daniel Blake, a  widower with no children,  has recently suffered a heart attack and receives an Employment and Support Allowance from the British state. But then, for no good reason, his benefits are denied; the state wants him to go back to work — even though his physician is on record as saying he can’t. The movie takes us through the agony of the appeals process, which is a much bigger nightmare than it sounds like. The story is told with stark and fierce plainness: unadorned, unapologetic, even unevolved. His one friend is Katie, the quick-tempered single mother whom Daniel befriends, becoming a gentle, grandfatherly figure to her two kids.

Daniel works to give the system every benefit of the doubt, until it insults his very being, at which point he has an impromptu “Attica!” moment. But it’s only a moment. The quiet beauty of “I, Daniel Blake” — the reason it’s the rare political drama that touches the soul —  is that we believe, completely, in these people standing in front of us, as Ken Loach and the actors have imagined them. And when the movie ends, we feel like we won’t forget them.  I, Daniel Blake is a movie with a fierce, simple dignity of its own.  (Source: Internet)





KEN LOACH

Ken Loach attended King Edward VIGrammar School and following two years in the RAF read law at St Peter's College, Oxford. In 1966 Loach made the socially influential docu-drama Cathy Come Home.  In the late 1960s he started directing films, and in 1969 made Kes. It remains perhaps his best known film in Britain. Loach experienced a miraculous, creative resurgence in the 1990s with the advent of Channel 4 funding and producers Sally Hibbin and Rebecca O'Brien. His recent films invest warmth and humour in their characters' plights while allowing political alternatives to develop naturally out of the narratives.


Ken Loach is a director admired, and often loved, all over the world. For his remarkable output, Loach has won numerous international prizes and long overdue critical recognition . Despite political ebb and flow, fickle artistic trends and film financing difficulties, he remains steadfast in his commitment to progressive ideals and a personal cinema. Loach's films are art of the highest order. While exposing the failings and limitations of human experience, they also provide a path to change and progress. His body of work firmly celebrates the fact that life is worth living.   (Source: Internet)

Nov 2, 2016

6th Nov 2016 ; Jean-Pierre Melville's THE FINGER MAN


THE FINGER MAN (Le Doulos)
A film by Jean-Pierre Melville
1963/ France/ 108 minutes
5.45 pm / 6th Nov 2016/ Perks Mini theater


We are introduced to burglar Maurice Faugel in the opening scene. Faugel has just  finished serving his term in prison. On being freed, he kills Gilbert Vanovre in order to avenge the murder of his wife. He also endeavours to perpetrate a robbery.



Confusion and wrong assumptions are the cause of tragedy in this stylish gangster noir. Maurice (Serge Reggiani) and Silien (Jean-Paul Belmondo) are friends going way back, and both have had a shady past. Silien wants to leave and retire. Doubts assail Maurice as well as others on  Silien .  It is finally decided that something has to be done about Silien.



it was French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville who distilled the essence of film noir as an art form, and his films reached its highest levels of expression. Melville’s first complete realisation in this genre was Le Doulos (1962)






Jean-Pierre Melville

Film-maker Jean-Pierre Melville's life was a running battle with critics and fans alike. But the 'garlic gangster' won in the end.

Born in Paris, France, Melville, who was an Alsatian Jew, served in World War II and fought in Operation Dragoon. When he returned from the war he applied for a license to become an assistant director, but was refused. Without this support, he decided to direct his films by his own means.He became an independent film-maker, owning his own studios, and became well known for his tragic, minimalist film noirs, such as Le Samouraï (1967) and Le Cercle rouge (1969), starring major, charismatic actors like Alain Delon (probably the definitive 'Melvillian' actor), Jean-Paul Belmondo and Lino Ventura. His directorial style was influenced by American cinema and fetishized accessories like weapons, clothes and especially hats.

His independence and his 'reporting' style of film-making (he was one of the first French directors to use real locations regularly) were a major influence on the French New Wave film movement, and he appears as a minor character in Jean-Luc Godard's seminal New Wave film Breathless. When Godard was having difficultly editing Breathless, it was Melville that suggested that he just cut directly to the best parts of a shot. Thus, the films famous and innovative use of jump cuts were made.


In 1973, Jean-Pierre Melville died. In a career spanning 25 years, the director had made just 13 full length films, but many of these are regarded as genuine triumphs of French cinema.

Oct 17, 2016

23rd October 2016; Asghar Farhadi's ABOUT ELLY




ABOUT ELLY
A film by Asghar Farhadi
2009 / Iran/ 119 minutes
23rd Oct 2016/ 5.45 pm / Perks Mini Theater


“About Elly” the fourth feature from talented Iranian filmmaker  Asghar Farhadi opens with a group of Iranian college friends—among them three couples, two with children—decamping to a rustic villa on the scenic banks of the Caspian Sea.

They have organised this trip quite impulsively: when they arrive, there is some confusion about where they are supposed to be staying, and they have to move into a beachfront villa that happens to be vacant, but is chaotic and derelict. And there is something else.

One of the party, the vivacious Sepideh has invited along someone of whom they know next to nothing: a young woman called Elly , who is their children's teacher. Mischievous Sepideh is hoping to set Elly up with the single friend in their party: Ahmad, who is recently divorced and has just returned from a long stay doing business in Germany.

This film is a revealing light on the elaborate culture of deceit that’s part of modern Iranian society about upper-middle-class Tehranis. The trip starts promisingly with singing and charades but the following morning, panic breaks out.  Farhadi manages the transition with utmost skill. 

“About Elly”  is clearly the work of a master in the making, an artist on the cusp of greatness. There’s almost no one working today who makes films so emotionally honest.



Asghar Farhadi

Asghar Farhadi was born in Isfahan, Iran in 1972. Whilst at school he became interested in writing, drama and the cinema, took courses at the Iranian Young Cinema Society and started his career as a filmmaker by making super 8mm and 16mm films. He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Film Direction from Tehran University in 1998.

During his studies, he not only wrote and directed student plays, but also wrote plays for national radio and directed for television with such shows as the hit series Tale of a City.In 2001, Farhadi wrote the screenplay for Ebrahim Hatamikia’s box-office and critical success Low heights. His directorial debut was with 2003’s Dancing in the Dust. This film went on to participate in the Moscow Film Festival, where it won both the Best Leading Actor and Film Critics awards.

Farhadi made his second feature film, Beautiful City, in 2004 which won the Best feature film award at the Warsaw Film Festival 2004, the India International Film Festival and Moscow’s Faces of Love Film Festival. “Chahar shanbeh souri / Fireworks Wednesday”, his third feature, award winner at the Locarno International Film Festival 2006, has also been successful in other international festivals. The film has been released in both Europe and the USA.


On 19 December 2011, he was announced as being on the jury for the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival, scheduled to be held in February 2012. On 15 January 2012, his movie Nader and Simin, A Separation won the Golden Globe for the Best Foreign Language Film.The film was also the official Iranian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Academy Awards where apart from getting nominated[7] in this category, it also received a nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category. On the 26 February 2012, Nader and Simin, A Separation became the first Iranian movie to have received an Oscar for the best foreign language film at the 84th edition of the Academy Awards. This marked Farhadi as the first Iranian to have won an Academy Award in any of the competitive categories.

Sep 28, 2016

2nd Oct 2016; Hitchcock's VERTIGO


VERTIGO
A film by Alfred Hitchcock
1958/ USA/ 129 Minutes
2nd Oct 2016/ Perks Mini theater
http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.in/


 Vertigo opens with a short prologue that details the circumstances under which Detective John Ferguson (James Stewart) develops an acute case of acrophobia that leads to vertigo whenever he climbs a steep flight of stairs or gets more than a few feet above the ground. 


After leaving the police force because of this condition, John is approached by an old acquaintance, ship yard magnate Gavin Elster to tail his wife, Madeleine,. As John follows Madeleine, watching her day after day, he falls for her..


This cry from a wounded heart comes at the end of Alfred Hitchcock's “Vertigo,” and by the time it comes we are completely in sympathy. A man has fallen in love with a woman who does not exist, and now he cries out harshly against the real woman who impersonated her. But there is so much more to it than that. 

The real woman has fallen in love with him. In tricking him, she tricked herself. And the man, by preferring his dream to the woman standing before him, has lost both.



Hitchcock does a masterful job blending all of Vertigo's diverse elements together. It's a love story, a mystery, and a thriller all rolled into one. It deals with issues of obsession, psychological and physical paralysis, and the tenuous nature of romantic love. Vertigo should really be seen more than once to be fully appreciated. Many of the darker, deeper aspects only begin to bubble to the surface on subsequent viewings.


“Vertigo” (1958), which is one of the best films Hitchcock ever made, is the most confessional, dealing directly with the themes that controlled his art. Alfred Hitchcock took universal emotions, like fear, guilt and lust, placed them in ordinary characters, and developed them in images more than in words. A thematic analysis can only scratch the surface of this extraordinarily dense and commanding film, perhaps the most intensely personal movie to emerge from the Hollywood cinema. (Source: Internet)





Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock is 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. His brilliance was sometimes too bright: He was hated as well as loved, oversimplified as well as over analyzed.


Hitchcock was eccentric, demanding, inventive, impassioned and he had a great sense of British humor. 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. 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

Sep 14, 2016

18th Sept 2016; MUSTANG


MUSTANG

A film by Deniz Gamze Ergüven
2015 / Turkey/ 97min
5.45pm / 18th Sept. / Perks Mini Theater
http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.in/


A beautifully mounted story about the demonization of young female sexuality in a remote Turkish village.Though set in Turkey, shot in Turkish, and telling a Turkish story about the demonization of female sexuality, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s beautifully mounted debut, “Mustang,” has an unmistakable West European sensibility.

This is the story of  five orphaned girls who live in a sizeable, well-furnished home “a thousand kilometres from Istanbul,” but a century from any notion of women’s rights. With their parents dead, they are raised by their grandmother, an aunt and a temperamental uncle.
Mustang tells a straightforward story of female empowerment. There’s a certain dreaminess to Mustang that helps soften the bleakness of what’s playing out on the screen. Ergüven’s camera gravitates toward the hazy light that streams in through the windows of the girls’ house, even as it quickly becomes more akin to a prison. She revels in the sisters’ beauty, youth, and spirit focusing in particular on their long, untamed hair (a reference to the the animal in the title), as it catches the wind like a banner raised in defiance.(Source: Internet )






 Deniz Gamze Ergüven

Deniz Gamze Ergüven was born in Turkey, grew up and went to school in France. In 2011 Ergüven was invited to attend the Cannes Film Festivals Atelier to help develop her project, The Kings. While there she met fellow director Alice Winocour who was there to develop her first feature film Augustine. After Ergüven was unable to find financing for her film Winocour suggested she write a more intimate piece leading the two to begin work on the script for Mustang.

Her debut film Mustang premiered in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Europa Cinemas Label Award. It later played in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. The film was selected as the French entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards
Ergüven was also nominated for multiple César Awards, winning the César Award for Best First Feature Film as well as the César Award for Best Original Screenplay.




  

Sep 1, 2016

4th Sept 2016; Ozu's FLOATING WEEDS





FLOATING WEEDS
A film by Yasujirô Ozu
1959/ Japan/ 119 minutes
5.45 pm / 4th Sept/ 2016 / Perks Mini Theater

Sooner or later, everyone who loves movies comes to Ozu. He is the quietest and gentlest of directors, the most humanistic, the most serene. But the emotions that flow through his films are strong and deep, because they reflect the things we care about the most.“Floating Weeds” (1959) is like a familiar piece of music that you can turn to for reassurance and consolation. It is so atmospheric--so evocative of a quiet fishing village during a hot and muggy summer--that it envelops you. Its characters are like neighbors.

A panoramic, low angle opening montage of an idyllic Japanese coastal province defines the understated, cinematic poetry of Yasujiro Ozu: a lighthouse framed against a tranquil sea; docked boats undulating with the sweeping waves; villagers weaving lackadaisically through local shops, as much for social interaction as for commerce. 

A struggling, itinerant acting troupe arrives into town for a kabuki show, lead by an aging performer, Master Komajuro . It is a tenuous homecoming for Komajuro. Ozu expertly weaves the narrarative through Komajuro's life, his women, his son and  unexpected setbacks that he faces.

Ozu's pervasive use of low camera height provides more than just a directorial signature style in Floating Weeds. As in Tokyo Story, the atmosphere is intimate and accessible. The characters appear grounded, human, reflecting Ozu's respect for the dignity of the common man. The camera does not wander, but retains focus on the space, creating a unbiased perspective of the characters. 

Inevitably, we understand Komajuro because he is all too human: the aging actor at the twilight of his career; the leader faced with the dissolution of his failed troupe; the father ashamed to reveal his deception. He has transcended the great samurais of his struggling plays, stripped of their cosmetic facade, and is rewarded with compassion and humanity. "Nothing is constant under the sun," someone observes, and this is very much a film which acknowledges the transience of human lives.
Ozu was born on December 12, 1903 in Tokyo. He and his two brothers were educated in the countryside, in Matsuzaka, whilst his father sold fertilizer in Tokyo. Ozu developed a love of film during his early days of school truancy, but his fascination began when he first saw a Matsunosuke historical spectacular at the Atagoza cinema in Matsuzaka. Ozu's uncle, aware of his nephew's love of film, introduced him to Teihiro Tsutsumi, then manager of Shochiku. Not long after, Ozu began working for the great studio—against his father's wishes—as an assistant cameraman.





Yasujirô Ozu

Ozu's work as assistant cameraman involved pure physical labour, lifting and moving equipment at Shochiku's TokyoThe Sword Of Penitence that became his first film as director (and only period piece) in 1927. Ozu was called up into the army reserves before shooting was completed. No negative, prints or script exist of The Sword Of Penitence—and, sadly, only 36 out of 54 Ozu films still exist. studios in Kamata. After becoming assistant director to Tadamoto Okubo, it took less than a year for Ozu to put his first script forward for filming. It was in fact his second script.


Days Of Youth (Wakaki Hi, 1929) is Ozu's earliest extant picture, though not especially typical (and preceded by seven others, now lost) as it is set on ski slopes. Stylistically it is rife with close-ups, fade-outs and tracking shots, all of which Ozu was later to leave behind. Three years later came what is generally recognized as Ozu's first major film, I Was Born, But... (Umarete wa Mita Keredo..., 1932). This moving comedy/drama was a great success in Japan both critically and financially. It was one of cinema's finest works about children. Thirty years into his filmmaking career Ozu was making films which, like Kurosawa's Ikiru (1952), questioned the sense of spending your whole working life behind a desk—something that many of his audience must have been doing. Ozu's films represent a lifelong study of the Japanese family and the changes that a family unit experiences. He ennobles the humdrum world of the middle-class family and has been regarded as “the most Japanese of all filmmakers”, not just by Western critics, but also by his countrymen.