Category Archives: Romantic Movies

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.

Raise-the-Red-Lantern-Movie
Raise-the-Red-Lantern-Movie                                                                                                                                                        Image source:

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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October 2018 – Movie Review

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Movie: October

Releasing Year: 2018

Director: Shoojit Sircar

Writer: Juhi Chaturvedi

Country of Origin: India

Running Time: 115 minutes

Language: Hindi

Genre: Romance, Drama

My Two Cents on October Movie:

Some days it is important to pen down your heart-wrenching feelings. Be it about a movie or book, feelings do come to you like waves. I am glad I am amongst those wonderful souls who happened to watch October movie. Words are not enough to define the human emotions I did experience while watching this masterpiece. What a surreal and subtle way of touching the strings of your heart? What a splendid way of portraying the real characters and opening the thread of relations one after another? I am not sure how one director or actor ends up in justifying the fit-to-role emotions perfectly from genesis till the end.

October 2018 Movie Review:

I was amazed by looking at the promo and trusted my hunch enough to watch it this weekend on the theater. I am writing this review with a heavy heart because this movie made me laugh out louder, took me to journey of friendship, taking me back to the road of love and finally disappearing in the face of the death, like everybody else disappears. I could relate it to more because somehow I was expecting this movie to be extra-ordinary. Varun Dhawan deserves a standing ovation for delivering such a powerful performance. His dialogue delivery and eye-to-eye meet expression made me believe actors like him do exist and they move people like me just being on the screen. I would applause every character as their emotions were so real and dialogues let you step into their shoes as if it was happening with one of you.

Some stories don’t start with an agenda nor do they end with one? October movie started on such a hilarious note and ends by leaving you teary-eyed. I feel like watching it again because it’s beyond the concept of usual love stories and dramatic family movie. It holds the truth which only few of us live and that’s “The power of being real and following your heart”, “The taste of courage which only few shows”, “The feelings which are hidden deep inside, yet you don’t forget to feel them”, “The people who you love the most and miss them while in pain or joy”, “The person who once left unannounced and never came back”. I believe it’s a plethora of emotions which you can only feel while watching and once you step out of the theater, it’s your heart you are going to feel the most inside your body.

I may someday, somehow, after gathering courage, would watch it again! It’s too heavy for me to go for next show again. I am going to let it sink in me completely.

Reviewed By: Gurpreet Dhariwal

About Gurpreet Dhariwal: I am a free soul who likes to write about anything under the skin of the sky. I always believed in myself knowing if you trust yourself, you can definitely aim for the sky. I am the courage that I seek in others no matter what!

Chungking Express – Movie Review

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Movie: Chungking Express

Original Title: Chung Hing sam lam

Releasing Year: 1994

Directors: Kar-Wai Wong

Writer/Screenplay: Kar-Wai-Wong

Country of Origin: Hong Kong (China)

Running Time: 102 minutes

Languages: Cantonese, Mandarin, English, Japanese, Hindi

Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance

 

Chungking Express Movie Review

I had a mixed bunch of feelings after seeing this film. I had seen Wong Kar-wai’s In mood for love which is a visual stunner with a very impressive background score. Chungking Express is less about the story or content and more about the visual style of depiction blended with different music scores. The movie features a lot of 80s pop, romantic jazz (saxophone playing in a couple of scenes is awesome in creating a seductive feel), Bhangra, Indian classical. Also Fayes’s (Faye Wong) addiction to the song ‘California Dreams’ by Papas and mama’s and the Cantonese rendition of a popular song by ‘Cranberries’.

Chungking Express Story-line

In terms of content the movie talks about love, hope and loneliness. The movie is in two parts, both of which are love stories-the first one is more grim and the second one has a comic sense. Both stories involve a cop, in and out of love.

In the first story a young guy, Cop 663 (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) has had a break up and is looking for another woman to come into his life. His meditation on the fact that ‘everything in life comes with an expiry date, even love and relationships’, is kind of okay. The portrayal of the city life with all the hustle bustle and busy criminal world is lovely. The streets are filled with people and neon lights, a typical feel of urbanization. Here the visual style blended with a tapestry of musical scores, bringing out the existence of multi-ethnic city life is almost dizzying…at times intoxicating! I liked the way the film talks about our sometimes ‘bizarre’ existence in a city where millions live. We are nothing more than a product with an expiry date.

I could also very well relate to the desperation that comes out of loneliness, sometimes finding it difficult to find a person you can talk to. I liked the scenes in the second story where the Cop 223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro), in bout of loneliness keeps talking to the soft toys. I have rarely seen men communicating with a soft toy. Many say it makes men look sissy. I disagree. The cop here looks more humane trying to overcome his adversity. The scenes where this cop talks to a torn mop, as if it were a human, brings out anxiety, desperation and sense of urgency to the whole situation.

Faye Wong’s portrayal of a free spirited, fun loving girl is particularly impressive. Her big eyes are so expressive, filled with hope and freshness. I love the scene where she finds a long strand of hair on the cop’s bed and cries bitterly like a child. Its too funny!

My Verdict of Chungking Express

The movie beautifully expresses the fetish of the east for the western culture. Here western culture seems to be an escapade, a promised land that can take away all your worries!

Personally for me the treatment of the movie is nice and with a fine balance between the more serious plot of the first story and a refreshing, comic look of the second story. But I still feel the movie is a lot of stylization and treatment without any concrete content.

Chungking Express Trivia:

  • Quentin Tarantino, after watching Chungking Express said, “I started crying. I’m just so happy to love a movie this much.”
  • The directed Wong Kar-Wai-Wong is hailed by many as the new Godard!

Reviewed By: Pallavi Patil

Me Before You – Movie Review

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Movie: Me Before You

Releasing Year: 2016

Director: Thea Sharrock

Writer/Screenplay: Jojo Moyes

Country of Origin: USA/UK

Language: British English

Me Before You Movie Review:

Based on the novel of the same name by JoJo Moyes, Me Before You is a 2006 British-American romantic drama movie. Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke play the chief protagonists in the film. Me Before You came under heavy criticism by some groups as they think it promotes “euthanasia”.

“Self killing” is a very delicate topic that I would not like to talk about. So, let’s skip to the plot and storyline of Me Before You.

Plot/Storyline:

The film starts with William Traynor getting struck by a bike and losing his lower body in the accident. Louisa Clark on the other hand loses her job after working for 6 years at a restaurant.

Seeing her family’s economic woes, she tries find another job. She gets an opportunity to work as a caregiver at Wayner Family’s Castle. They employs her immediately at a handsome remuneration. Louisa is little sad to know that she will have to take care of a 30-year old guy. William, once a playboy and adventure lover, now lives a quiet life on a wheel chair, especially designed for him with the latest technology. He is irritating and erratic and makes life difficult Louisa. At one point, she even thinks of leaving this job, but couldn’t do it.

To ease things, she comes up with an idea of making William happy and making him enjoy social life. William, at first, is not interested in the idea but then agrees. A special bond develops between them based on love that lacks lust. Louisa is determined to keep William happy and smiling. She even puts her own relationship at stake for it. Her life is shattered when she knows the fact that William is going to Switzerland to finish his life. She cries and asks him to stay and fight life.

Sam Claflin & Emilia Clarke in Me Before You
Sam Claflin & Emilia Clarke in Me Before You

William tells her how bad he feels when he want to make love to her, but can’t owing to his disability. He wants to live, but his current condition is a misery for both of them. She leaves him and goes home. William goes to Switzerland with his parents. Louisa couldn’t control herself and goes again to him to asking to change his mind. She pleads to him but he leaves the world.

In the last scene, Louisa is seen reading a letter by William. He asks her “to fulfill her dreams and live a happy life”. He even left her a good amount of money from his fortune to study further. Something she couldn’t do because of her financial issues. After reading the letter, Louisa is seen in tears and walks away.

 

My Verdict & Rating of Me Before You:

By the time, Louisa finishes reading the letter, I was in tears. I could feel her pain and the misery of William. That’s what you want from a movie, isn’t ? To hit you hard in heart. For this very reason and some great acting, I give 9/10 to Me Before You. It has a fantastic screenplay, great direction and touching music and background score.

Emilia Clarke literally stole the show with her timeless acting. She had that innocence and emotional appeal that the character of Louisa demanded.

If you are into Romantic Genre Movies, then Me Before You got to be in your wishlist.    

 

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