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Movie 4 d week : Revanche / Revenge (2008)

Review by Vinoo
Language : German / Russian
Director : Gotz Spielmann

Alex (Johannes Krisch) is an ex-con who works for Konecny (Hanno Poschl), the owner of a brothel ‘Cinderella’(The name sounds loaded to me) in Vienna. Tamara (a hot Irina Potapenko), an illegal Ukrainian immigrant, is a prostitute who works there and is also, unknown to her boss, Alex’s girlfriend. On one visit to a small town where Alex’s grandfather Hausner (Johannes Thanheiser) lives, he decides to rob the local bank and make a quick getaway with Tamara for a better life elsewhere. Meanwhile Alex also meets Susanne (Ursula Strauss), his next-door neighbour, who is a frequent visitor to Hausner’s. Alex is in no mood to entertain her attempts at friendship.
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Movie 4 d week : Cinema Komunisto (2010)

Review by Vinoo

Language : Serbian/Croatian
Director : Mila Turajlic

‘This is the story of a country that no longer exists, except in movies’.
With a beginning like that ‘Cinema Komunisto’, a fantastic retelling of the story of a country, Yugoslavia, keeps you glued right through the 101 minutes. This film is a lesson in documentary film-making. Josip Tito aka General Tito started a whole film industry with the sole purpose of writing the history of Yugoslavia, through propaganda films. The Director takes us through whatever remains of the theatres and the studios. The interviews with the chief projectionist of Tito for 32 years, Alexander Leka Konstantinovic, and their biggest star, Velimir Bata Zivojinovic (Yugoslavia’s John Wayne) who has acted in over 300 films and many others like Alfred Hitchcock, Orson welles, Yul Brynner and footage of stars like Sophia Loren make the film memorable and a collector’s item. The seamless editing from footage to interviews to old documents and photographs is so brilliant, one doesn’t notice the duration of the film.

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Movie 4 d week : Naseem / The morning breeze (1995)

Review by Vinoo
Language : Hindi
Director : Saeed Akthar Mirza

Naseem. ‘Subah ki hawa ko kehte hai. Jo bahut khoobsurat hoti hai. Tumhari tarah. Naseem : subah ki hawa’ (‘Naseem. The morning breeze. The breeze that is beautiful, like you’) Says Kaifi Azmi in his unmistakable voice. The film begins with a dedication : For my mother ‘Iffat Ara Mirza’ and my friend ‘Micky Patel’. Followed by the lines ‘In India, on December 6,1992, a medieval mosque was brought down by some people who believed it was erected on the exact same spot where Lord Rama was born. The riots, slaughter, savagery and hate-filled months that followed, no Indian will ever forget. That one act of demolition wrote the epitaph of an age that had passed… perhaps never to return.’ The film documents the life of a Muslim family and specifically looks at it from the eyes of Naseem (Mayuri Kango in her best role) and her grandfather (Kaifi Azmi) who represents the era of communal harmony between Muslims and Hindus. It follows the changes in the life of a Naseem in the face of communal tension and documents the period from December 1991 and then July through December. It culminates with the bringing down of the mosque coinciding with the death of Naseem’s grandfather on 06 December 1992.
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Movie 4 d week : El Ultimo Verano De La Boyita / Last summer of La Boyita (2009)

Review by Vinoo

Language : Spanish
Director : Julia Solomonoff

It is a very special coming of age film and a brilliant look at gender sensibilities and adolescence. Jorgelina (Guadalupe Alonso) is a young girl who adores her older adolescent sister, Luciana.  Luciano, who is ‘becoming a woman’ no longer enjoys the company of her kid sister and  teams up with her friend, Elba, and together snub Jorgelina. All they have time for is talk about boys, sex, brassieres and other topics little girls they think should be kept out of. Jorgelina finds all this a bit silly and spends most of her time by herself in her dad’s caravan, Boyita. She accompanies him to the farm-side where she meets the shy and reclusive Mario (Nicholas Treise) who has an amazing talent for horse-riding. They hit it off and soon enough can’t live without each other. The two of them spend a lot of time together, talking, walking, lending books and of course horse-riding. Mario is ‘breaking in’(a new terminology I picked up) horses and to show he is a man he will have to take on the macho men of the place. Mario is meanwhile grappling with changes of his own, a closely guarded secret. The casting (by Maria Laura Berch) is so good, Mario’s face tells us the state he is in and Jorgelina her state of mind. After a point Mario’s parents can no longer hide the secret about Mario’s sexuality. Mario’s face tells a lot about the dilemma he is in : a mind that is desperately trying to prove to himself and the world, but a body that has a mind of its own. It has a brilliant climax with wonderful performances by the main characters in particular. Here is a clip so you know what I am talking about.

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Movie 4 d week : Sukrutham* (1994)

Review by Vinoo
Language : Malayalam
Director : Harikumar

‘Who said one is alone in death? It is in life that one is alone.’ Pardon my bad translation of words from the master M T Vasudevan Nair. Ravishankar (Mammootty) is a journalist who is terminally ill, with blood cancer, and is not expected to live for more than a few months. ‘Sukrutham’ takes a look at how the knowledge that a man is on the verge of death affects life of people around him. It is a brilliant script where one is even reading his own obituary. Ravishankar loses all hope in life and he decides to head to his village so he can spend his last few days in peace, far from the city. Here, his uncle and aunt and his childhood sweet-heart, Durga (Shanti Krishna), take good care of him. His wife Malini (Gouthami) and her classmate, and Ravishankar’s student, Rajendran (Manoj K Jayan) are the other people whose lives are closely linked.

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Movie 4 d week : Lemming (2005)

Review by Vinoo
Language : French
Director : Dominik Moll

‘Lemming’ is a psychological thriller that will have you glued, particularly so during the first fifty minutes. Alain Getty (Laurent Lucas from the much talked about ‘With a friend like Harry’ (which I hope to watch) and Benedicte Getty (Charlotte Gainsbourg from ‘Antichrist’, ’21 Grams’ etc) are a young, ‘model’ couple who move into a new house in the suburbs of Bel-Air. Alain is just back from a presentation and he invites his boss Richard Pollock (Andre Dussolier who you will recall from ‘Amelie’) and wife, Alice Pollock (Charlotte Rampling of ‘The Verdict’ fame. Also, the eminently forgettable, ‘Basic Instinct 2’ I gather) home for dinner. Richard and Alice arrive late for dinner and from the very first scene, Alice, in dark glasses, is an almost eerie presence. From the interactions that follow Alice seems neurotic. The scene where Alain and Benedicte are having an intimate moment in the kitchen and Alice is watching over is spooky. The first half of the film reminds me of the same uneasy calm of Michael Haneke’s ‘Funny games’. Alice says the reason they are late is because “her husband was with a whore”. She further goes on to throw wine on his face to cool herself. With a disaster like that for dinner we are quickly taken to a seemingly mundane problem of a clogged sink. Alain fixes it only to find a Lemming in the pipe. Lemmings are rodents that are native to Scandinavia.
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Movies 4 d week : 1. Mullaittivu saga (2009) | 2. Burning memories (2008)

Review by Vinoo

Language : Tamil
Director : S Someetharan
1.‘Mullaittivu saga’ is a personal recount, by the Director Someetharan, of the incidents that preceded the planned genocide of Tamils, by the Srilankan Army, in Mullaittivu. It further goes on to tell us the state of affairs during, and after, the ethnic conflict. The human rights commission has been a mute witness thanks to countries like India and the US turning a blind eye to make sure the LTTE is finished off once and for all. India’s changing loyalties on the global arena played in no way a minor role in victory for the Srilankan Army. Gotabhaya Rajapaksha even had the audacity to say on BBC World News and get away with “There will be no inspection, no checks. There has been no human rights violation. Whether it is United Nations or any other country we are not / I am not allowing any investigation in this country. There is nothing wrong happening.

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Movie 4 d week : Nero’s Guests(2009)

Review by Vinoo
Language : English
Director : Deepa Bhatia

‘Nero’s Guests’ is a must watch simply because it is about you and I, all of us really. It sure makes us ask if we have been / are guilty of being Nero’s guests. With P Sainath right through the film you have no choice but to listen. The film covers P Sainath’s visit through the villages for his research on the Agrarian crisis. The film focuses primarily on farmer suicides and the ever-increasing disparity between the rich and the poor. It is about over 2 lakh farmer suicides in the last 14 years, and what makes them take that extreme step. You can get a loan for a Mercedez Benz at 6% interest, no collateral required, while a farmer kills himself because he is unable to get eight thousand rupees at a decent rate of interest. It is ironic a country that is supposedly among the fast developing rates pretty high on the World Hunger scale. Some of the so-called ‘poor, under-developed’ countries are much better off than us. This film is about the India we don’t want to see, don’t want to acknowledge exists, want to write off as fiction because we have gone blind and we have been fed by a media that is catering to the super-rich, the cream that we want to believe represents India on the world stage. This film is about the people that our Government refuses to believe exists.
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Movie 4 d week : Laitakaupungin valot / Lights in the Dusk (2006)

Review by Vinoo
Language : Finnish
Director : Aki Kaurismaki

‘Laitakaupungin Valot’, another wonderful film from the master who is simply the best at telling those stories so very simply. This is the story of Koistenin (Janne Hyytiainen), a lonely night watchman, working for a shopping mall who gets stuck in a devious scheme by a businessman, Lindholm (Ilkka Koivula). Lindholm, with a pretty woman, Mirja (Maria Jarvenhelmi), for bait, decides to make use of Koistenin’s gullibility to meet his ends. Sample this conversation from the film, when Mirja meets Koistenin for the first time at a Café and asks him for a date :
Mirja : Is this seat taken?
Koistenin : Why sit here when the Café is empty?
Mirja : Because you looked like you needed company.
Koistenin : So what next? Shall we get married?
The tone, and the deadpan expression, which is by now a Kaurismaki trademark, is simply hilarious. Koistenin wants to start a business of his own but nothing seems to go right. He is a loner and the only other person, besides the stray dog, he has any conversation whatsoever with is a woman, Aila (Maria Heiskanen), who runs a small snack stall. Lindholm uses Mirja to befriend Koistenin and with her help gets the secret code to the lock and steals a Jewellery outlet. Koistenin is arrested and then released for want of proof. Later Mirja comes back to his house and plants evidence to get him arrested. He sees this but doesn’t protest. He serves his prison sentence and comes out and sees Lindholm and Mirja in a restaurant where he is now working. Lindholm gets him thrown out of his job by informing the owner of Koistenin’s background. Koistenin wants to get even and tries to stab Lindholm but is beaten and almost left for dead. Aila finds him lying totally battered, with a dog for company, and asks him not to die to which he replies ‘I won’t die yet’.
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Movie 4 d week : A Heart from Jenin (2005)

Review by Vinoo
Language : English
Director : Cecilia Parsberg

A wonderful documentary that tells the story of Palestinian boy Ahmed’s heart which continues to beat inside Israeli girl Samah. Israeli snipers shoot Ahmed in Jenin. He is taken to a hospital in Haifa and is declared clinically dead. Ahmed’s parents decide to gift his organs and Samah becomes the recipient of his heart. This, in the words of the Director Cecila Parsberg, symbolically ‘drills a hole in the wall’ that is being built around the refugee town of Jenin. Palestinian poet, Kefah who was imprisoned when he was just fourteen, says ‘They should understand they are going to lose. When a Palestinian boy throws a stone at a Tank, he expects a bullet in return. But then, he still does it. He isn’t afraid to die. That is the message he is giving them’. The Director meets the parents of Ahmed and then again meets Samah and her parents to give us a view of how people across the world are the same while an unwanted war is being fought between their countries. Ahmed’s parents hope this heart from Jenin is a message from all Palestinians to all Israelis to stop this war. My favourite scene in the film is where Samah kicks a football. After all she has a footballer’s heart, which I recall from shots of Ahmed playing football in the beginning of the film. The Director very strongly makes the point that you and I, ordinary people, have the power to create channels for connecting with others. Comments from the poet Kefah sums it up nicely ‘The case of Jenin, and Palestine, is at the same time specific and general’. This could be as much an India and Pakistan story as it could be that of any other warring neighbours.

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