Saturday, November 14, 2009

Antichrist (2009) - Incomprehensible !!!

This is not at all a review !!!
No one can review this Lars von Trier film, as the film would, I am sure, convey different things to different viewers in succeeding viewings.

 Some random thoughts ...

- Intensely horrific - the film stars only two characters (yes .. Absolute two), the fear or horror evoked is based only on the fear of being lonely or solitary. As far as I am concerned, it was genuinely horrific and definitely not a B-Grade exploitation. The viewer would naturally transcend himself/herself into the shoes of the protagonist and hence will feel engulfed with the fear of being lonely, under the circumstances portrayed.

- Very less dialogues - The film almost conveys everything via images and brilliant cinematography. Cinematography & the powerful imagery is the acute strength of the film and it almost single handedly carries the film forward. It was a real treat to get lost into those vivid images and I am sure the film's camera work would require a thesis-long analysis to comprehend the techniques and mastery exhibited.

- The film will evoke a lot of confusion and chaos in the minds of a viewer, atleast in the first viewing. Many shots and still images - I am sorry, I haven't comprehended them yet. Probably, a copy with the director's commentary audio track would help.

- Like Tarantino flicks, The film's narration carries a chapter structure. But the focus is linear and no flashbacks,  no other characters - Lucky that way... Or else, it would have mounted even more incomprehensibility in the viewer.

- The film has in it, a lot of grossly violent sequences and really disturbing images. They just add up the confusion and more importantly, since the grossness is concerned with male and female genitalia also, I don't know .. If the film is suitable for all categories of audience (among adults only).

- Without spoilers here, the film, I guess, should be about  the evil-ness that rests 'within' one's self, here in this case, within a female. By looking at the controversial critics the film has managed to receive, I guess again, the film is trying to question a few Biblical stuff. Due to non-acquaintance with Christianity or the Bible, I have no comments on that front, actually.

- Google out the meanings of the terms "Misogyny" and "Gynocide" before starting with the movie, if you aren't already aware of them. The film, quite heavily discusses them.

- It's quite unable to classify the film's genre ... IMDB calls it Drama & Horror. The film has a lot of surrealistic elements, helped accordingly by the camera. 

- The film premiered at the Cannes 2009 and was nominated for the Palme d'Or and the film's ladylead Charlotte Gainsbourg won the Best Actress honour for her fine performance.

- The film, with some of it's gore and sexually violent images, will haunt you and it's very easy to call it bad or uninteresting on those grounds. But, on an under-layer, it has quite a lot of artistic or auteuristic nuances that are all open for your imagination, interpretation and appreciation. The film, I am sure, will be hailed as a classic and would attain a cult status in future.

- Not for all, definitely and not a must-watch also .. It has something very very different to offer ... You have the inclination ?? Start with it and no disappointments, I guarantee.

And a photo essay here, solely to highlight the mastery of the film's Cinematography ... 

Black and white imagery - It has its beauty always !

Gross !

Lighting !

 Believe it or not ! - It's Graphical ...

Surreal Love 

 One of the confusing still shots in the movie

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Iruvar (1997) - Six Events that shouldn't have been skipped

Mani Ratnam's Iruvar (1997) remains the only movie in Tamil Cinema that offers a panoramic glimpse into the glorious Dravidian Movement of Tamilnadu.The biopic presents a chronological view into the lives of two of the greatest personalities of Tamil cinema and Tamilnadu's politics, Mu.Karunanidhi and M.G.Ramachandran.

You can only laugh at this disclaimer...

There has been a general consideration that movies are the mirrors of the social, economical and political conditions of a country during a period, but this has never been true in India, I feel. Even during periods of political turmoil like wars, Emergency, Anti-Hindi agitations etc, Our cinema has never chose to speak about them.

Hence, Iruvar being the only torch-bearer that tries to pass the history or legacy of this political and social churning to the next generation of young viewers, We (or rather, I) expect it to be factually exact. Iruvar is a cinematic wonder, no doubt .. The movie's period touch, excellent art direction, lyrical dialogues, brilliant acting, wonderful direction - No flaws, absolutely. It is one movie, I would always like to boast and discuss about when it comes to cinematic quality. But, Factual flaws - ?. There's a huge list of them ... The movie, of course takes care of tiny aspects like Veluthambi's Dhoti wearing style (Annadurai used to tie his dhoti improperly), Anandan's dance movements in songs (A very good replication of MGR's movements), Senthaamarai's bindi etc. But, there is a huge list of misrepresentation of political events and I chose to list only a few of them. I understand that this is a feature film and not a documentary and hence the director owns every right to manipulate around with the screenplay but still ... !!!. I wish he creates a documentary on this by making use of the already-done-extensive-research on the topic.

Please click on the images for a magnified view.

1) The Split in the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) and the Birth of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) (1949)

There were many instances in the movie where Veluthambi (Read C.N.Annadurai) is addressed  as "Ayya" but E.V.Ramasamy (called Periyaar) has always been the "Ayya" and C.N.Annadurai was fondly called as "Anna" (meaning Elder brother) by his followers and the public. This way Mani Ratnam probably wants to convey that Veluthambi is both the "Ayya" and "Anna" and thus he creates some comfort for him, for the non-inclusion of Periyaar's character in the DMK's saga. Thus, the movie quite misleadingly refers to the birth of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) without any reference to Periyaar and the parent party - Dravidar Kazhagam (DK).

2) Anti-Hindi Agitations (1965)

The most important political and social event in the post-independent Tamilnadu's history should be the Anti-Hindi Agitations of 1965. And, it was a grave injustice that there is absolutely no reference to this radical movement that shook the country during the 60s. The Secessionist politics of the DMK and the original demand for a separate "Draavida Naadu" were also carefully overlooked or ignored.

The only related event that featured in the movie is Karunanidhi's "Kallakkudi Struggle" which in original was organised for the renaming of Dalmiyapuram Railway station as Kallakkudi. But, the movie presented a revolutionary Tamilselvam (Prakash Raj) conducting the demonstrations for the sake of Reservations. And, the punch of the protest was further mitigated by the romantic encounter between Tamilselvam and Senthaamarai (Tabu), in the midst of the turbulent agitations.

3) C.N.Annadurai - The Chief Minister of Tamilnadu (1967)

C.N.Annadurai taking Oath of office after DMK's stupendous success in the 1967 Assembly Elections.

DMK rode the wave with an overwhelming electoral victory in the 1967 Assembly elections capitalising the Anti-Hindi agitations of 1965 and MGR's near-death encounter as he was shot in the throat by M.R.Radha. And, C.N.Annadurai - the then General secretary of the DMK became the first non-congress Chief Minister of Tamilnadu. In the movie, Veluthambi (Nasser) expresses disinterest on heading the state and Tamilselvam becomes the CM with Anandan's (Mohanlal) support. This way, the events that actually took place after Annadurai's death in 1969 - Mu.Karunanidhi becoming the CM with the support of MGR, were pushed ahead by approximately two years.

4) The Birth of Anna-DMK (1972) & The Dindigul by-election (1973)

The cinema entry of Mu.Ka.Muthu (Karunanidhi's son) as a competitor to an ageing MGR, created well-pronounced rifts in an already diminishing MGR-Karunanidhi relationship. Though the magnitude looks small, Mu.Ka.Muthu's "Pillayo Pillai" is still considered an immediate impetus that gave birth to the MGR's Anna-DMK. Thus, Maniammai (Periyaar's mistress) and Mu.Ka.Muthu hold a very important place in the state's political history - the former leading to the birth of DMK from DK and the latter leading to the birth of ADMK from DMK. Both find no mentions in Iruvar.

The Dindigul by-election (1973) - MGR floated his political party ADMK in 1972 and was on a eager wait to prove his political mettle. The first oppurtunity came to him in the form of Dindigul by-election and ADMK's candidate Maayathevar defeated both the DMK and the Congress by a comfortable margin. The victory marked a decisive shift in the politics of Tamilnadu and more importantly, heralded the arrival of MGR in the political scenario of the state. Interestingly, MGR's "Ulagam Sutrum Vaalibhan (USV)" faced a lot of troubles from the ruling DMK at the censors for its release and MGR emerged successful with both actually ... May 12,1973 - Release of USV and May 20, 1973 - Dindigul elections.

These events were absolutely absent in Iruvar, though there has been a small mention about this before "Kannai katti kolladhe" song but Tamilselvam lets the movie through with a criticism of his rule of the state.

5) MGR at Brooklyn and AIADMK's Third Electoral Victory

Operation Bluestar, Indira's Assasination, Anti-Sikh riots (Yeah, in that order), Bhopal gas tragedy - 1984 was arguably the worst year in India's history after independence.

Dialysis, Apollo, Brooklyn - the most discussed words in Tamilnadu in 1984. The entire state was in a prayer mode conducting group-prayer sessions for the good health of their beloved Chief Minister, MGR. MGR was sick and was admitted in the Brooklyn hospital, United States and Jayalalitha Jayaram, R.M.Veerappan and Panruti Ramachandran were on the election campaigns. Apparently, people only required some proof that MGR was still alive and AIADMK used MGR's videos and photographs extensively during the campaign and the party comfortably packed another punch with a decisive third consecutive victory in the assembly elections. MGR came back in 1985 and was sworn in as the Chief Minister of the state, the third time.

Again - No reference.

6) Jayalalitha Jeyaram - MGR's Political Heir

There was a lot of drama in the AIADMK after the death of MGR in 1987, regarding the party premiership - MGR's widow Janaki Ramachandran on one side and his favourite lead lady in the cinemas, Jayalalitha on the other side. But Jayalalitha, with her charismatic personality and iron will was able to win the support of the party and has held the party intact since then. Jayalalitha is by far the most controversial political figure of the state and Iruvar chooses to erase this off the history books - Aarghh !!

Hope you enjoyed the history ride !!!