Category Archives: History Movies

Gold Movie Review

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Gold Movie Review:

I was proud to stand up twice for our National Anthem while watching the story of India’s First Olympic Gold win in post Independence era! One before the movie began and again when India wins the much coveted Gold medal in the movie.

In my view, Gold is a well directed/written movie that didn’t lose focus throughout its 2 hours and 31 minutes of running. It was action-packed, motivating, inspiring two and a half hours of only hockey – Our National Game! Something we have forgotten with time resulting in the inexorable decline of the game in the country .

Though this is not a first hockey movie to be made in India. It was still refreshing and charming in ways. I especially loved the fact that it did not make fun of the British Empire or Pakistan, that is often seen almost in all of Bollywood’s patriotism-themed movies. It has an easy going story-line and an effective plot that leads to a grand finale like climax.

Akshay Kumar as Tapan Das is looking adorable as well as authoritative at the same time. His stature as a versatile actor has been further increased with the success of Gold movie. Amit Sadh and Kunal Kapoor are total hunks and have acted so well that it won’t be wrong to say that they acted as the sails of the ship that Akshay was steering brilliantly. I am happy and satisfied that Mouni Roy and  Nikita Dutta didn’t have to shake a leg as item numbers to hold their own.

Enjoyed the music of Gold which has been made popular on the radio, also the short bits of dancing in the club, typical of pre-Independence era India. I must say in the end that it is a must watch movie for the patriotic goosebumps and pride that stays on even after leaving the theater!

Gold in every way is a golden movie.

Reviewed by: Shyamala Nawab

Edited by: Absar Ahmad

About Shyamala Nawab:

Anything but Shy! After years of working, I eased into the more enjoyable but hectic role of being a full time wife, mother & personal assistant to the family very easily. Movies blend my passion for travel, food, reading & observing people perfectly.

Raise the Red Lantern – Movie Review

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Movie: Raise The Red Lantern

Original Title: Da hong deng long gao gao gua

Director: Yimou Zhang

Year: 1991

Country of Origin: China

Languages: Mandarin

Raise The Lantern Movie Review –

This is a movie about the sexual enslavement of women in a feudal system in China. It is about four mistresses living together. Their master lives in the central house and each of the four mistresses has a house of her own opening onto a central courtyard. The family is guarded by strict family customs and rules laid by the ancestors. According to the customs, red lanterns are lit in the quarter of the mistress with whom the master decides to spend the night.

This huge house is made up of high stone and brick walls and covers a massive area. It is a movie speaking about the almost inhuman male dominance in the society and the defiant Songlian (Gong Li) who marries into this house as the 4th mistress. Once a woman is married into this rich family, she cannot escape- come what may. Three mistresses are already living, sharing a very uneasy relationship with each other. The entry of the 4th mistress Songlian fuels this heated atmosphere and adds to the rivalries. The house overflows with luxury which is available to the mistresses (concubines-a woman cohabits with a man to whom she is not legally married, especially one regarded as socially or sexually subservient; mistress) but none has true freedom. Well, whats the use of a bath tub with candles and perfumes in a prison?

It is story of complete enslavement of women by their master under the effect of which the mistresses change their behaviour. The first mistress is old and has an adult son. She is the more experienced.  The 2nd mistress, Zhuoya (who first appears to be very friendly and helping nature) and has a son. The 3rd mistress, Meishan used to be a good opera singer. She is young, beautiful and filled with jealouy. The 4th mistress , Songlian, the lead actress in the movie drops out of college after her father’s death and marries this rich master, succumbing to the pressure from her stepmother. There is a teenage servant, Yaner, who is the master’s favourite and aspires to be a mistress herself…someday.

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Everybody in the family along with the servants mindlessly adhere to the family customs. It is clear that they do so, not out of will but due to the force of tradition and culture. A very good depiction of millions around the world, who never question our value system and customs and verify their correctness. What stops us from evolving? We are almost blinded by them.

The mistresses are not really happy and their whole existence revolves around- whom will the master favour. That’s their sole sense of achievement. And exactly this competition is what changes them at times to show their worst face. (Competition brings out the best and sometimes the worst out of people.)

Songlian soon learns that she is trapped behind the closed doors of the palatial house and those who seemed friendly are in fact plotting against her. This frustration of not being able to experience freedom along with the fierce competition to be the master’s favourite alters her behaviour in such a way that their personal dynamics changes into war.

The cinematography of the movie is beautiful with the ‘reds’ of the lit lanterns forming a lovely contrast against the grays and the blues of the palatial house. But there is something sinister about  this redness. The deep reds evoke a feeling of danger telling us that all is not well in the house and add a passion to the whole drama. The ‘reds’ also express the fiercely burning passion, ugliness and jealousy in the minds and hearts of the mistresses.

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All the drama takes place within the closed spaces of the tall, strong walls (there are some scenes in the open on the terrace of the house and they are beautifully pictured) . As a viewer at times you feel claustrophobic, gasping for fresh air. This is exactly how the mistresses feel in their own house which seems more like a big prison which they can free themselves from. The instrumental background score played while the lanterns are carried from one place to other is particularly befitting a thriller. This whole effect beautifully adds to the phobia and restlessness. The choir singing in high pitch is interimly used as background music and is very melancholy and haunting. It is beautifully crafted film.

The mistresses have to please their masters in bed and have to produce babies, especially a son to be an heir to the family. As the concubines express their reality of they being just animals and not human in the patriarchal society makes us sad and we get totally absorbed in their pathetic sate of existence. (Songlian ends up insane as she is unable to fight the inhumanity and is haunted by the guilt of her actions.)

The movie is about anarchy in a male dominated society and the results of it. But much more than that the movie has successfully initiated an argument in the superbly made 2hrs drama – We humans are always looking for dominance over each other. This chase of wanting to be on the top at times makes us lose our sense of well being and fairness. The four women knew they cannot escape. They could have come together to help each other and then may be they would have experienced a slightly happier life.  But they chose to fight with each other(wrong choice) to vent out their frustrations and for dominance and power. I completely understand the frustrations of a woman living in a male dominated society. I have been there. And some might feel that expecting the four women to co-operate is probably asking for something superhuman. But I still feel they could have handled it better. Its only in terms of crisis and severe pressure that we human are capable of coming out with our best and to rise above trivials. The mistresses could have empathized but they chose to criticize.  The film awesomely expresses that the whole helplessness of the human race of not being able to overcome jealously for a common good leads to tragic consequences for all. And after all that plotting against each other, does anybody really win? No…the anarchy continues. The 5th mistress arrives in the palace and the vicious circle moves on.

When there is too much ‘ME’, we not only lose the ‘WE’ but also destroy the ‘ME’.

 

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Reviewed by: Pallavi Patil

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The Reader – Movie Review

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Movie: The Reader

Releasing Year: 2008

Director: Stephen Daldry

Writer/Screenplay:  David Hare

Country of Origin: U.S.A & Germany

Running Time: 124 minutes

Languages: English, German, Greek

Genre: Drama, Romance, History

The Reader Movie Review:

Well ‘The Reader’ is a movie about an affair between a woman in her mid-thirties, Hanna (played by Kate Winslet) and Michael who is 15 (played by David Kross and in the later part of the movie played by Ralph Fiennes in his 60s). A movie with Nazi Holocaust as the backdrop. I have seen so many movies on this topic-the list is endless. But that event in the history of mankind, still inspires people to make movies on it. As there are so many aspects to it which the world hasn’t stopped thinking about. But ‘The Reader’ is much more than an expression on the futility of human cruelty. It is about love, reconciliation, and a woman’s pursuit to find redemption. Hanna defends herself in the war-crime trial and like many of us, realizes the severity of her crime much later in life, when it’s too late.

The Reader is a good comment on classic human behavior of ‘doing without thinking’. Hanna in the movie, at least had the courage to admit that she was one of the guards in selecting the Jews every month (as to who will go to the gallows). But her other colleagues just follow the bandwagon of ‘fallacy,’ denying their involvement in the crime. A very typical of human behavior of not wanting to rise above mediocrity, as we don’t wish to lose our comfort zone.

Michael’s affair with Hanna was more based on sexual relationship. Michael as a teenager discovers his own sexuality with Hanna who also wisely guides him in the act of lovemaking. There are good number of scenes of nudity and the experience of orgasmic fulfillment. But the relation between the two runs much deeper….more so, for Michael. Hanna is illiterate and loves to be read to. And Michael a good, animated reader reads to her some of the best works of literature (Homer’s Odyssey, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The lady with the little dog). This reading followed by sex forms a bond between them-an experience, a relation that will affect Michael for a lifetime.

Life often gives us a chance to look back at our behavior, analyse our past actions, and rise above our errors to become a more wholesome and a responsible human being. But very few can justify this chance-just a few like Hanna did in The Reader.

At the end of the movie Michael meets a Jewish woman (a survivor of the Holocaust) with an expectation of the Jewish victims to understand Hanna. The woman does not forgive Hanna’s crime but does make an effort to understand the culprit better, which for me is a step towards forgiveness. This effort of great character does somewhere make the Jewish woman a slightly more satisfied human being. And therein lies the power of forgiveness.

The Reader Performances:

The performances by Kate Winslet and David Kross as young Michael are commendable. Bob Marley once said, “Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.” In this movie, Michael Berg finds that one worthy person.

 

Reviewed By: Pallavi Patil

Even The Rain (También la lluvia) – Movie Review

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Movie: Even the Rain

Original Title: También la lluvia

Releasing Year: 2010

Director: Icíar Bollaín 

Writer/Screenplay: Paul Laverty

Country of Origin: Spain

Language: Spainsh, Quecha and some English

 

Even The Rain Movie Review:

A Spanish film director Sebastian (Gael García Bernal), his producer Costa (Luis Tosar) and the entire crew travels to a town called Cochabamba in Bolivia. They intend to shoot a film on the explorations of Christopher Columbus (who created European awareness of the continents of America), the greed of the Spanish monarchs that Columbus worked for and the grave injustice with which the Spanish treated the local Indians.

Sebastian is looking for the right ‘Indian’ faces to be casted in his films. When he arrives in Cochabamba with his crew, he sees long queues of people waiting to be auditioned. His first confrontation with locals sparks trouble. Danial, one of these locals is a defiant man and insists on get his daughter auditioned for the film. In the process Sebastian realises that Danial’s face has a lot of character and power required for the role of a character in the film. Irrespective of Costa’s argument that Daniel smells of trouble, Sebastian gives casts him. The shooting begins.

Storyline:

As the movie proceeds we gradually come to understand the minds of the other member and actors within the crew. The man playing Columbus has a bad family life and spends his nights drinking. The two men acting as priests in the film are very excited about their roles but we doubt how much can they really connect with the ethical and spiritual side of the characters they are playing. Sebastian’s intentions are very sincere and his innate humanity is intact. Costa on the other hand looks at using the local faces as actors at a dirt cheap price. It is here that the film initially hints at its core- how well can this ambitious crew relate or empathise with the problems of the locals. If their intention is to tell the world about how one set of people misused power to exploit the weaker set, then aren’t they supposed to be the upholders of fairness and justice in their own actions while making the film?

This city is facing major scarcity of water due to the privatisation of water supply by global economic giants. The Government and the police try to curb the protest of the people. The film draws a comparison between the storyline of Columbus and Spanish monarchy humiliating the Indians and the extension of the same phenomenon centuries later in this so called modern world. Locals are furious as they can’t even the use the rain water anymore. Hence the name- Even the rain. The ways of the modern, economy friendly world wats to own the rain too!! While the natives have hardly enough drinking water, the rest of the film crew is partying with wine and flamboyant dinners merrily talking about the film. This stark contrast insinuates us as a viewer to look at the lives of ours and others in terms of the ‘actions and the sincerity of purpose’. It asks us- How did art originate? Why are we making films, creating symphonies, writing books etc, etc.? What is the purpose behind it all? Where does all this lead us? If we were living in a utopian world, would soulful art still be relevant? Well i think the answer to this would be NO. We live in a world full of meanness, callousness, decay and rotting morals. Probably hence civilisation started investing so much into art of different sorts not just for aesthetic pleasure but more so because Art is a great leveller. It helps us retain our humanity and sense of goodness. Albert Camus once said- A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.

I think, Art helps us reflect, introspect, question. It inspires. Well all this can only happen when the ones dealing with it are honest in their endeavours. And in my opinion, it is exactly this ideology that this film is trying to talk about. If the hearts of the director and the producer have dried out, how will they ever understand the significance of water in the lives of the locals they are trying to shoot with?

Daniel slowly gets heavily involved in the protests and gets beaten and locked up by the police. Sebastian and Costa are worried about their which cannot get completed without Daniel. Costa even tries to offer Daniel money to bait him into keeping away from the protest. And then we feel that here the Sebastian and Costa have misunderstood the whole purpose of making the film! The only question that remains are – Why are you doing, what you are doing?

I have also thought that it’s not just experience that makes you wise. It’s your own thinking about your experience that initiates the growth of wisdom. Two different people can have exactly the same experiences but their take away can be completely different. Here slowly Sebastian and Costa both understand the gravity of the situation. They try and empathise with the problems of the natives. And the film takes a beautiful and desirable change- of changing the minds of people to understand the world better. Costa goes on to help Daniel in his personal crises and offers him his friendship for a lifetime. Sebastian too gets drenched in the scenario trying to think in the right perspective, even if that means he has to sacrifice the film which is his dream project.

Even The Rain Movie Verdict:

Even The Rain is a very simple film. Nothing too intellectual on esoteric about it. No mind blowing camera angles….any gimmicks. And yet it is a lovely film. The effort is very sincere and the performances of the characters give justice to it. It rekindles in you that pain and passion for lost civilisations, for the real people and for humanity in general. The pace of the film is good and gripping. There isn’t a wasted moment. The battle for water does manage to nurture the sapling of courage and camaraderie in the minds of the affluent, for fellow humans. Daniel’s sincerity as a person and the circumstances does moisten the hearts that had dried out. Do watch the film……it will quench your thirst!

 

Reviewed By – Pallavi Patil  

 

Image Source: Centro Cultural de España Montevideo