Sunday 30 November 2014

2015 Blind Spot Series

Did you know: Making a blind spot list can be sorta depressing :/ Like shit, I have so many films to watch and what have I been doing with my life and will I ever finish watching them and gahhhhhh life sucks!!

      This is one of the reasons for embarking upon this challenge for another year. The 2014 series has been a lopsided success so far in the sense that I have been really late for some of the posts and maybe written a rant instead of a review for one of them, but I have watched and written about all of them and that's a big deal because these are the only reviews I write on my blog currently. I obviously don't want them to remain the only reviews I write but I do hope to be more punctual and less lazy next year. 

         I will be watching most of my 2015 choices at random again though one can spot that there is a horror film, a noir and a movie with numbers in it that correspond to my age as it will be next year so that's a clue on when to expect them.

My Blind Spots:

So what do you guys think? Have you watched any/all of these? What is your opinion on them?

November Blind Spot- The Thin Blue Line

         Documentaries are a part of films where my knowledge is woefully lacking. I think I've only seen about a dozen or so documentaries in my life and I really want to change that. Therefore, including a documentary in my blind spot series was a must and I think I am going to make that into a tradition. All the documentaries I have seen so far have been so different from each other and I am very curious to find out more about them. I don't think I have disliked any of them and my favourite film of last year was a documentary too.

           The Thin Blue Line is about the conviction of a man named Randall Dale Adams for killing a police officer. The film investigates the events of the incident as well as the state of corruption that runs through the police force in Dallas, which is where the film is set.

           I sometimes think it is odd to review documentaries. Like how do you judge real life? Give me fiction, please! Of course, documentaries are still very much part of cinema and in that way, we can critique them. In The Thin Blue Line, there is a lot which is conventionally cinematic, from the reenactments to the close-ups to the score to the actual film clips present in it. I found it really interesting that how much of it felt "directed" and that was one of the most striking things about it for me. I do like a more naturalistic approach more but again, my knowledge of documentaries is very limited and also comprising of pretty recent films which are affected by the kinds of technology available today.

             Technicalities aside, this IS a film about real life, quite literally. The judgment passed on Randall originally was a death sentence. I don't want to treat any subject lightly but a film like this or last year's The Act of Killing just feel so much more important. Someone was killed and someone was set to die and a topic like that needs to be inquired into. I sort of knew about the outcome of the whole case but the film still kept me guessing at what was going to happen.

            As this film is about a court case, listening to different variations of the "truth" by the different people in the film was very fascinating. I think in spite of reports and what we're supposed to know about how the world operates, it was still shocking to see what the authorities try to do in this film, especially with the witnesses in the case. There was a bit of humour injected into it with some of these characters, which is what they felt like in the whole "the truth is stranger than fiction" sense.

               Taking a cue from this and also what I wrote before, the film has elements of suspense, comedy, political drama and horror too and is utterly compelling on the basis of these alone, but then we also have the fact that all of this is true which makes it impossible to look away from or stop thinking about it. Errol Morris is the director and this is my first film of his. I can already understand why he is so well known and respected as a documentary filmmaker. This is a difficult, perhaps even a dangerous subject and he does justice to it while also infusing a cinematic style into the story.

        I briefly mentioned it above but the score of the film really stands out. The score is by Philip Glass, who also composed one of my most favourite scores ever for The Hours. It was haunting and grim and it kind of shakes your insides while you're watching it.

          I have tried and been as vague as possible for this film. I think people need to watch it and ponder over it. I liked it a lot and I really, really, really need to watch more documentaries.

Monday 17 November 2014

KIFF- Day 7

       KIFF 2014 is now over. The last day was interesting. I went for the super expensive screening of John Wick first thing in the morning and then followed it with film festival movies. I saw one of the best films of the festival today too. It was so good that my friends and I took the collective decision to skip our last planned film so as to not ruin our moods in any way.

Day 7:
1) Elephant Song (Charles Biname, 2014)- After yesterday's Mommy we chose to watch a film that starred Xavier Dolan. I s'pose Dolan is the king of this fest. He was really good in this. I thought the film was okay overall. It was trying to be too clever at times and I felt like I had seen the story somewhere before.

2) Whiplash (Damien Chazelle, 2014)- Holy moly, you guys! This was the last of the holy trinity that I HAD to watch in the film fesitval and like 2001 and Mommy I was right to anticipate it so much. I had read about how its final act is incredible but never ever ever ever ever did I see that last scene coming. I still feel completely shaken up, but in a good way, by it. People clapped many times, even at really wrong moments, but gosh this film leaves you at a high. I have loved the use of music in many of the films this year but I really think Whiplash takes the cake. Like woahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Also, I need drumming lessons like RIGHT NOW!!

Total no. of films watched = 17

Total no. of films walked out of- 5

Best film watched- Mommy

Worst film watched- Geronimo

Best cinematic experience- 2001: A Space Odyssey and Mommy

             I hope you guys liked this mini series of posts. I don't know when I'll get to attend a film festival next, or where, but I hope to do something like this again. Check out the rest of my KIFF experience here.

Sunday 16 November 2014

KIFF- Days 4, 5 and 6

        Yeah I was tired and I didn't feel like typing. Days 4-6 of KIFF were good enough with two highlights. I saw Interstellar and The Guest in between too. One I liked, one I really liked- guess which is which? I also walked out one screening but that doesn't count because they were playing a different movie than the one I had intended to watch and I barely sat for like half a minute.

Day 4:
1) Kaafiron ki Namaz (Ram Ramesh Sharma, 2013)- This movie belongs on a stage. So theatrical and wordy. It was like the worst of humanity gathered for a pointless discussion that was nevertheless fascinating. Sometimes it was too much to handle but it was also acerbically hilarious. The songs in it were kinda awful though.

2) Nymphomaniac vol. 1(Lars von Trier, 2014)- I kind of love this film. I don't know what kind of pervert that makes me but it is what it is. Most of all, I love its humour. We saw this in the biggest theatre and just like in Blue is the Warmest Colour, an audience that is otherwise more than ready to break out into fights watched all the sex scenes with complete silence and an almost reverence. It was hilarious to see some people shift in their seats in certain scenes. Btw, this was the "uncensored" director's cut and I'm super glad we didn't go for vol. 2 because we've heard some horror stories about what happens in that. LVT is a wackjob.

Day 5:
1) Refugiado (Diego Lerman, 2014)- This was a nice movie. It's about a kid and his mother who are on the run from his abusive father. It is a real human drama and it's filmed like that. There's no sentimentality but there is a gentleness about the characters which I really liked. The kid was v. good.

2) Omar (Hany Abu Assad, 2013)- I thought it was an excellent film. I thought I had it figured out but I was constantly surprised by it. Also, I am in love with it's lead actor now. Adam Bakri is fucking gorgeous and he was really, really, REALLY good! My friend and I were totally fawning over him the entire time. I don't understand how he can like walk anywhere without people trying to kiss him all the time. This was also one of the funniest/most annoying experiences as far as audiences go. The first 10 minutes people was just hurling hilarious insults at each other across the hall.

3) Two Faces of January (Hossein Amini, 2014)- It was okay. It certainly looked v. pretty and I was attracted to both Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac at different points in the movie. But I don't understand anyone who's comparing it to The Talented Mr. Ripley except in the looks department. It was almost too straightforward if that's a thing, like annoyingly so. It lacked any complexity whatsoever and Ripley is complex as fuck.

Day 6:
1) Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)- I think I first saw this film 6 years ago and I hadn't rewatched it since. I forgot just how great its satire is. Also, I don't think I had recognized George C. Scott's brilliance in this the first time 'round. Peter Sellers is obviously to die for as always. I did remember its ending clearly and god, I love it! Most of my friends went to watch some movie about a dog instead but I much prefer nuclear war and violence in the name of peace to that :)

2) Mommy (Xavier Dolan, 2014)- This was the movie I had shrieked so loudly about when I found out it is screening in the film festival, that I woke my grandma up in a fright. So yeah, it was kinda my #1 movie to watch in the fest and holy shit, it did not disappoint. Like I am so glad I watched it on a big screen because a movie THIS big needed that. I can't call it a perfect film mostly because it's more of a living, breathing, dynamic force than a film. It was so intense that after it got over, my friends and I barely spoke a word to each other and just sat silently throughout our bus journey. I felt like every emotion at the end and I didn't/still don't know how to fully react to it. Speaking in technical terms, it was fucking stunning to begin with. There is this thing that happens with its aspect ratio that made me go "Oh fuck" out loud. It's still giving me shivers thinking about it. The soundtrack is freaking perfect. The performances were out of this world. It's a blshame that Anne Dorval will almost definitely be overlooked during awards season. She's SOOOOO GOOD!!! And I don't know where Dolan found Antoine-Olivier Pilon but that kid has one of the most beautiful and cinematic faces ever. I could keep looking at it, at him, all day long, especially through Dolan's lense. Dolan himself continues to baffle me with his talent. How the fuck is a 25 year old this good? I have loved all 5 of his films and I can't wait for what he does next.

          We were supposed to watch Clouds of Sils Maria but there was a huge line + it was screening way past its allotted time + we were too full of Mommy emotions and so we skipped it.

          Tomorrow is the last day of the festival. Whiplash is another biggy that I hope to catch. I'm also going to go watch John Wick 'cuz why not. 

Thursday 13 November 2014

KIFF- Day 3

         Oh my god, am I really posting two days in a row?! Shocking, right? This is just to show how dedicated I am to my blog and all that. To recap, this is a series of posts I'm going to do about attending the 20th Kolkata International Film Festival and I will be writing them sleep-deprived/practically drunk and blah. Okay here we go-

Day 3:
1) Pasolini (Abel Ferrara, 2014)- This was a very confused movie. I felt like I needed to know more about the man to get some of the references. Also, it's been a while since I saw sex scenes in a movie being *that* pornographic. They made me pretty uncomfortable :/ The death scene is quite impactful though.

1.5) Labour of Love (Aditya Vikram Sengupta, 2014)- Okay! Okay! I walked out of a screening AGAIN and this time it's not the film's fault, not completely at least. The thing is, my friend and I went for this film to sleep in comfy reclining seats in the AC before standing in line for the next movie. To be fair, after the director introduced it, I really wanted to watch it. HOWever, I had had a really big lunch before it and that always makes me incredibly sleepy plus the film had no dialogue, at least till the point we saw/slept through it. Whatever I saw mid-siestas, I did appreciate because the film looked gorgeous. Maybe I will really like it when I watch it in my own time. So yes, I am the asshole in this case.

2) The Search (Michel Hazanavicius, 2014)- I have written about my sorta irrational issue with watching kids die in movies. It causes me too much distress. And The Search literally starts with two adorable little kids mid-warzone and it only gets more tense from there on. No, it's not a perfect movie, but goddamnit, I have not been this emotionally invested in a character's well-being in a long, long time! I squirmed in my seat, clapped, covered my eyes, covered my face and cried in this movie. I don't do any of these usually. The character in question, Hadji, is played with such sad innocence by Abdul Khalim Mamutsiev that it broke my heart. The other performances were good too. The film is an interesting exploration of the different ways war devastate lives, especially of children and young adults, and human connection in all of that. I felt that the film's title is quite misleading in that way. There is a lot going on in this film that is more than a search (unless I have totally missed some metaphorical point behind the name which is a possibility). It's also intriguing to see such a film made by the director of The Artist and I look forward to his future projects.

3) Ciudad Delirio (Chus Gutierrez, 2014)- We sat on the second row in front for this though it wasn't completely terrible thanks to the comfy reclining seats (I really love them). Still, it could have been painful were the film a bore and it was anything but that. I didn't know what it was about and I was pleasantly shocked to realize that in the middle of all these artsy fartsy serious stuff that we've been watching, which I don't have anything against as long as they don't go overboard, we had here a romcom with a salsa dance competition plot line. And it was sooooooo much fun! No, this was not an original movie by any stretch of imagination- it's literally a dance movie and a romcom put together, competition tryouts and crucial-run-to-the-airport and all, but I enjoyed myself. I wanted to, and still do actually, go dancing somewhere after watching it. It's just nice to have these light breaks in film-watching once in a while. I liked it.

            That's a wrap on today. Tomorrow, I'm going to take a teeny tiny break from the festival and finally watch Interstellar. Yaayy!!

KIFF- Days 1 and 2


          Hallooo my amigos! (I don't know why I wrote that... I'm really sleepy) Since there is something film-related going on in my life right now, I have decided to blog about it like all good bloggers do. So KIFF, or the Kolkata International Film Festival has begun. It's the 20th year of the festival and this is the 3rd one I'm attending. My first year, I saw 3 movies. Last year, I managed to watch 26 films over the week. I don't know how many I will watch this year because I kinda keep walking out of them, as I have elucidated below.

      These posts will be like a bigger version of my end-of-the-month posts and smaller than my mini reviews. I am/will be writing these after a full day spent going from theatre to theatre and attending college lectures so I am/will be obviously very tired. The downside of this is that I probably won't write these posts every day of the week and I will club the days together like in this post. The plus side of my sleepy self writing is that my thoughts will come uncensored and I'm probably not even going to edit the post before posting it so yeah, HAVE FUN WITH THAT! TYPOS FOREVER BITCHES!!!!!

Day 1:
1) Lolita (Stanley Kubrick, 1962)- Yaay great start! KIFF focuses on a master filmmaker every year. Last year, it was Billy Wilder and this year, it's Kubrick, both of whom I adore. Coming to Lolita, I had forgotten just how funny it was. I did remember being blown away by Peter Sellers, and he *really* is incredible in this, but this time 'round I was also struck by Shelley Winters. She's so tragic and so brave in this. 

2) Charlie's Country (Rolf de Heer, 2014)- This was really v. slow. I don't know why but I am already really tired during this year's fest, probably due to last year of college or old age or whatever. So anyways, it was extremely hard to stay awake at points but it is a quietly powerful film at times. The lead performance by David Gulpilil is really wonderful. There was this point in the film where he makes eye contact with the camera for about a minute, maybe even more, and it will haunt me for a long time. There were issues about aboriginals in Australia that I was not aware of at all that the film explored and I really liked that. I just wish the pace was slightly faster.

2.5) Thanga Meenkal (Ram, 2013)- So, after watching a film which seemed devoid of any drama, we went for this which was overly dramatic. There was a sweet story at its core about a misunderstood pair of father and daughter but my friends and I were far too hungry to sit for the whole thing while also being bombarded with ALL OF THE FEELS! So yeah, we walked out halfway which was smart of us, sorta, 'cuz we ate some really good sandwiches and then stood in the line for the next film which, and this is not an exaggeration, had about 200+ people already in front of us. I know what you're thinking, India needs to sort out its population problem -.- -.-

3) Geronimo (Tony Gatlif, 2014)- As I wrote above, we had walked out of a film for being too dramatic. Little did we know that the film we were walking into next made the previous one seem like a subtle, solemn affair. The movie started out well enough, with lots of spunk and cool music and whatnot. But god, then it just went nuts. It was a bit like West Side Story + City of God + Short Term 12 - ALL of their brilliance. At times, I really did feel that it will turn into a musical but then it got serious with this really committed social worker trying to save these two teenage lovers from their insane families. And god, the couple in this were total idiotic assholes. Not worth ANY of the drama at all.

Day 2:
1) 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)- So in this entire film festival, there are 3 films that I HAVE to watch no matter what. Two are yet to come but this is definitely one of them. Watching 2001 on a 70mm screen has been on my bucket list ever since I saw it for the first time and I guess I can die partly happy now :) Yaay?! Gosh, it was so stunning! It's not my favourite Kubrick movie by a mile but it has to be one of the greatest cinema theatre movies ever.

1.5) Tsili (Amos Gitai, 2014)- This has to be one of the most boring movies ever made. I fell asleep 15 minutes into the film and woke up half an hour later. Upon asking my friend what had happened, she said nothing. Good fucking lord! I tried watching some more but it wasn't gonna happen. Also, there were constantly bombs being dropped in this (apparently it was set during World War 2 or something) and the sound of that gave me headache. So we left this too. According to a friend of a friend, nothing happens till the end. Good call on our part.

1.5) Force of Destiny (Paul Cox, 2014)- For this film, there was 6 of us and we got good seats right in the middle. Btw, this hall is a big one with a seating capacity of 931 persons according to its Wikipedia page. This is important information because by the time the director had stopped introducing it, there were people sitting on the stairs and standing on the sides- basically, the place was overflowing with people and they were getting pissed. Again, this is crucial because once the film started, we immediately understood that it is not a good one. It had the guy who played Faramir in the Lord of the Rings movies and spoiler alert: he has not aged well. Also, I don't think he can act, like everyone else in this film. The script was poor too. It was about a man with liver cancer awaiting organ transplant who falls in love with this Indian woman. The whole image of an Indian woman in this, at least till the point we watched (spoiler alert again!), was so, ugh, colonial? She was like an exotic manic pixie girl just waiting to give the white male a fresh outlook in whatever life he has left. Anyways, we HAD to leave, and that was one of the most awkward things I have ever done. There is this belief about Bengali people being really sweet but the fact is that they are quite bitchy when they want to be. Walking between people sitting on stairs who refused to budge an inch even though I'm here trying to not step on their hands and feet and getting cursed at by women who were oh so engrossed in this ahmazingly awful movie was a real highlight of the festival for me.

2) These Are the Rules (Ognjen Svilicic, 2014)- After walking out of two movies in one day, my friends and I were beginning to despair about this entire festival experience. Were we being too critical? Everyone else seemed happy :/ So a lot was hanging on this film to improve our moods and strengthen our faith. Thankfully, it delivered. Oh god, it delivered. For fans of Buffy out there, this is the best fictional portrayal of death that I have seen since "The Body". This film was simple, shatteringly realistic and powerful. Great performances too. I really liked it.

     And that's it for now. Tomorrow they will screen A Clockwork Orange but I will be attending a lecture on something called Legal Awareness because my life is a burning bag of shit. There are a few other movies planned too (which I might or might not walk out of) and I will hopefully update y'all if I am awake enough.

Monday 3 November 2014

The Month that was- October

       October was vacation month and I mostly just lazed around doing nothing. Good times. I also saw 23 movies. I had intended to watch lots of horror movies but that kind of failed. I also started Twin Peaks but then realized that I need to reduce TV watching until probably after I get accepted somewhere for masters. And I read some books for college for once. Yeah, my life is a real ball of fun at the moment. Anyways, here's everything I saw and read.


1) Haider- I really liked it. It's a bold, ambitious, gorgeous film. There are things in this film I had never expected a Bollywood film to have. And seriously guys, watch it for Tabu's performance!
2) Horns- Utter crap. Even DanRad's complete devotion to his performance could not save it.
3) Gone Girl- I loved it though not as much as the book but OH MY GOD ROSAMUND PIKE IS EVERYTHING!!!
4) The Innocents- What a creeptastic film! Stunning, disturbing and it gets under your skin.
5) Teeth- Went into it thinking I'd hate it but it's kind of one of my favourite first watches of the year. Hilarious, crazy, brave, clever and brilliant! I loved it.
6) White Bird in a Blizzard- It's been a while since I saw a film completely ruined by its ending. I like it more in retrospect but gosh, was that ending trashy or was that ending trashy?! Eva Green is a goddess though and the soundtrack is amazing too.
7) Stranger By the Lake- This was a cool, sexy, creepy film. I really liked it. Also, penises everywhere! 
8) The First Time- Aww this was cute. My sexual orientation continues to be Dylan O'Brien's arms.
9) Listen Up Philip- This film gave me a headache. I thought the performances were excellent but I really found the film tedious, bordering on insufferable. Not my thing.
10) Gloria- Oh this was lovely. Made me really happy.
11) The Boxtrolls- It was very sweet and funny. Laika's efforts are inspiring.
12) Show Me Love- It was a bit like Blue is the Warmest Colour: The Early Years. I thought it was cute.
13) The Babadook- My Halloween night film. I thought it was excellent. I love horror movies that are grounded in something real and one in which we care about the characters. The performances were great too and Babadook's voice is still ringing in my ears. *shudders*


1) The Game- For the Fincher episode. It's a good thriller but I found it kind of pointless and full of #RichPeopleProblems this time.
2) Panic Room- Podcast. I still find the premise terrifying.
3) Zodiac- Podcast. Best. Casting. Ever.
4) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button- Podcast. Rewatched it for the first time ever and I still don't understand why Fincher made this. It's so cheesy! At least it looks pretty.
5) The Social Network- Podcast. Still fucking perfect.
6) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- Podcast. Give us the sequels, please!!!!! I love this film.
7) Gone Girl- Yeah I saw it again even though it was censored but OH MY GOD ROSAMUND PIKE YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!!
8) Withnail and I- I don't think I appreciated it enough the first time I saw it. It's fantastic.
9) Guardians of the Galaxy- My in-flight film. Still my #2 film of the year.
10) We Are the Best!- Still my #1 film of the year. It's so cute :D


1) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain- I feel like I'm about a decade too old to enjoy this. How did Tom not get killed?
2) The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway- Eugh! It was so boring.
3) The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy- It was good albeit a bit too contrived at times.
4) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell- To balance out all the smart shit I had been reading. It was cute although the novel in this reads like bad fanfiction of Harry Potter and that was really annoying.

Final tally:
                                    Firsts: 173                                                 Rewatched: 56
                                                                    Total- 229

Um, yeah. I guess there is a Doctor Who post coming and *maybe* some reviews. HOW THE FUCK IS IT NOVEMBER ALREADY??!!! 

Sunday 2 November 2014

Mini Reviews- Blind Spot edition #2


           Yes, I know that this is becoming a pattern. What can I say? Aguirre, my September blind spot, was really weird and Solaris, my October blind spot, was really boring, and I am a lazy ass who likes to put the blame on anything except herself. #fact

September- Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Dir: Werner Herzog, 1972)

Basic plot- An expedition into the Amazonian forests in the 16th century turns into a quest of ambition and madness, especially for the ruthless Aguirre.

          I really liked this film. I just did not know what to say about it (plus my vacations had started and I, you guessed it, got lazy). I have never seen a film that has been made like this. It is poetic, dreamlike, realistic- all at the same time. The only film that it reminded me of was Apocalypse Now which was actually influenced deeply by Aguirre itself.

          I loved the way ambition is depicted in this film and how it leads men to do things beyond the realm of rationality. And this is all conveyed through the performance of Klaus Kinski who played the eponymous character. He is one of the strangest looking actors I have ever seen and he embodies the spirit of this film with a particular crazed look in his eyes which is both scary and pitiable.

          This was my first Herzog film and it has whetted my curiosity. I really want to check out his other films, especially his other collaborations with Kinski.

October- Solaris (Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972)

Basic plot- The scientists stationed near the planet Solaris have been psychologically affected by it. Kelvin, a psychologist, is sent there to find out what is happening to them but he soon finds himself under Solaris' influence too.

          Okay, so here's the thing- I chose to start watching this film right when my vacation was ending and my college was starting aka Really Tiring Times. As a result, I fell asleep not once, not twice, but thrice while watching it and this was BEFORE the first half of the film was even over. So, I was already super impatient with this film and even though the second half is much more interesting, all I wanted is for it to get over as soon as possible. Finishing this film became like a chore,

           I gave this entire explanation because this has really coloured my opinion of the film. No, it is not fair and yes, I do intend to watch it again at some point, but at this moment, I do not like this film at all.

          I did appreciate the idea at its centre that explores a scientist's inner life and what happens when his mind is divided between his work and his personal needs. The film certainly looked gorgeous and it was also very poetic in its dialogue. It is just that the first 50 minutes of it passes without anything really happening and for me, the film never recovers from that.

          This was my first Tarkovsky film too and though I am still interested in checking out his other works, I don't think I will be doing that any time soon.

           I just want to end this by mentioning some of the parallels or points of differences between these two films that I could not help but compare, probably because these are both foreign classics from the 70s (the same year, actually) that I saw back-to-back. Both of them deal with discovery, ambition and madness, although in Solaris' case, the madness is brought about by love. I also liked that one is set in the past and the other in a vague time in the future. The way they are made is very different and both are striking in their own ways too. And of course, with both of them I have started on the filmographies of two major directors of world cinema so that's good..