Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Don Kikhot 1957..Kozhintsev

This is a nostalgic gem from the Soviet Era. Don Quixote is a book I miss having read, but so beautifully has the knight been evoked, I feel familiar with this grand persona. The pathetically noble Don persists with great courage in his quest to right wrongs and help the downtrodden. The earthy story populated by rustic folk understandably finds resonance with the ideals of social justice which made the movement tick for nearly a century. The film in the hands of a great director evokes compassion, pathos and idealism, and sublime humor. Whether heroic or ridiculous, the Don is a one man brigade against the jeers of society. Perhaps more ridiculous are the ways of the court, in their coldheartedness and desire to extract amusement at the expense of an innocent old man, even if slightly demented. He is unfazed in confronting criticism: "What can you know, monk,of matters outside your chapel? Step out into the world and look about you.Those who seek power climb upover dead bodies,like over stairs.The greedy kill for a farthing.The slanderers sting their kindred like vipers. I wanted only one thing:To do good to everybody and wrong no one. And it is me whom you're reviling. For shame, monk!" Courage and compassion are two qualities the Don certainty possesses abundantly, in his actions that invariably entail great personal risk. It is not often one experiences this feeling of having come in contact with the sublime, in this film based on a novel I will never read.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Run, Melos! 1992

Melos, a Greek country lad, has to run against impossible odds to his place of execution, to save the life of the sculptor Celine, who has substituted in his stead, to enable Melos to attend his sister's wedding. If he fails to make it by the stipulated time, before the sun sets, Celine will lose his life. This is a beautiful Japanese animation, depicting a life and death drama where the stake is the fulfillment of a promise. The animation breathes the sunny Greek environment, and the characters are alive in this tale of simple heroism.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Last Days in Vietnam...2014

This engrossing documentary chronicles a less familiar part of Asian history. After the resignation of Nixon, the armies of the communist North advance southward like a tidal wave. Thousands of lives are in peril: the Americans and the Vietnamese who fought alongside them. The last minute "exodus" by land and sea, including hordes keen for a free ticket to the "promised land", is depicted in detail. It is a picture of tragedy and grandeur, as two populations, same in language, race and culture, separated only by different schools of political indoctrination, come into bloody conflict. War perhaps is part of our ancestral genes, inciting awe and adrenalin rush, sooner than pity.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Saraband 2002

Thirty years have passed. Johan and Marianne are in their eighties and sixties respectively, Bergman also is in his mid eighties when he makes this movie. Johan, having inherited a fotune, has escaped into a remote villa surrounded by a magnificence of landscape. He spends his time in the company of books. Age delights in old and worn out stuff--the villa in the pit of mountains is furnished with aged things--it has a beauty of sparsity and passage of and longevity which conveys something of Bergman's soul--indeed Johan must have the signature of the director's persona. Marianne, after a separation of decades, impulsively visits him. His neurotic widowed son and musically precocious and beautiful grand daughter live in the vicinity.

Time has creased their faces and enfeebled the body, but for the rest, they are the same individuals, with a shift of circumstances. Johan has become unpleasant, in a position to vent his negative side, particularly towards his relatively impecunious son. Death is a distant thought, a theoretical enigma, even as it approaches. It is rightly said that death creeps in from the rear, more than lying in ambush ahead. It is a fine movie, Bergman at his melancholy best in what happens to be his final work. If there is a message, it is about how little, rather than how much, people change.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Scenes from a Marriage 1974

A study of adult relations, with all their uncertainty. What distinguishes a dead relationship from a living one? The couple portrayed is socially and materially placed above survival and rat race, the better to focus on elemental issues. Happiness is tantalizingly close, yet elusive as a bird, People  are ever thirsty travelers. The machinery of the mind is inscrutable and complex.  This invisibility shapes our life, The movie is enjoyable to watch, comprising six short riveting episodes. It has a sequel, Saraband, made thirty years later, portraying the same couple played by the same actors.