Sep 13, 2017

17th Sept'2017; ANTARJALI YATRA - The Voyage Beyond A film by Goutam Ghose



 

ANTARJALI YATRA - The Voyage Beyond

 A film by Goutam Ghose
1989/ Bengal/ 140 min
17th Sept / 5.45pm/ Perks Mini Theater

Antarjali Yatra is a stunning and beautifully picturised drama happening around the cremation ground of a Bengali village on the muddy banks of the river Ganga. It traces the journey of a young maiden who, to save the graces of the family, was married off to an extremely old man on his deathbed, and how, she finds a company in a 'dom' - a man responsible for cremating at the burning ghats. 
She is expected to practice the ancient Hindu ritual known as SATI in which the widow throws herself on the burning funeral pyre of her late husband.  Wife who commits Sati was worshiped as a goddess during those days. Antarjali Yatra is set in the Bengal of 19th century, times of great social turbulence and breaking up of old traditions. 
In this remarkable film nothing happens as you expect and things go berserk. From the beginning , a painted eye on a boat moored near the burial ground watches the  absurd drama unfolding on that river bank.  There are three main characters- the young bride, the dying old man  and  the cremator of that ghat. Shatrugan Sinha gives his stellar performance as the drunk untouchable cremator  entrusted with the last cremation rites who is against the practice of Sati. 
The film is rife with long shots, and the cinematography is mesmerizing - the frames sometimes bring out the bare truth along the muddy banks of Ganga, and sometimes they have this brooding, lingering feel.  Director Gautam Ghose is also the cinematographer and music director of this film. Film is  based on a novel, Mahayatra by by Kamal Kumar Mazumdar. 


Goutam Ghose

Goutam Ghose was born on 24th July,-1950 in Kolkata. He did his primary education from the St. John Diocesan School and later joined Cathedral Missionary Boys for higher studies.He made his directional debut with his biopic film New Earth in 1973. Later, he made his cinema debut from the film MaaBhoomi in 1979. His Film Paar with Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi was based on the Bengali story Paathi. He made his acting debut from the film Grihajuddha in 1982 and later he acted in a Gayak in 1987, BaisheSrabon in 2011, Ekla Akash in 2012, Chotushkone in 2014.
 
He was among the few whose films were awarded Best Cinematography, Best Direction and Best Screenplay awards at the National Film Awards ceremony. Including the awards and citations received for Antanjali Yatra , he has won 16 National Awards and many international awards like the Silver Balloon Award, the Nantes Film Festival, the UNESCO Award, the Cannes Film Festival, the Grand Prix-Golden Semurg at Tashkent,[4] the Fipresci Awards and Red Cross Award.




Aug 8, 2017

13th Aug 2017 ; Alfred Hitchcock's REBECCA




 

13th August, Sunday - Hitchcock's birthday
REBECCA
A film by Alfred Hitchcock
Based on Daphne Du Maurier's celebrated novel
1940/ USA/ 130 minutes
5.45 pm / Perks Mini Theater

The story begins in Monte Carlo, where a young woman (Joan Fontaine) is making her living as the paid companion of a rich American lady. While the lady is abed with the flu, the young woman meets and is captivated by a gentleman from Cornwall, Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier). He's brooding and handsome and she falls madly in love with him and he apparently with her. 

 Their whirlwind romance leads to a marriage and he brings her home as "the second Mrs. de Winter." This is not the first time Maxim has been married. His previous wife, Rebecca, died in a boating accident several years ago and her death is said to have broken him. 

 The new Mrs. de Winter does not find it easy going being the mistress of Manderlay, her husband's vast estate. Meanwhile, the memory of Rebecca, palpable as a specter, haunts the mansion. Rebecca falls neatly into the three-act pattern that defines many classic Hollywood stories. The first portion is a simple love story. It is told with tenderness and feeling and illustrates that if Hitchcock had wanted to, he could have been a great director of big Hollywood romances. 

The second act, which encompasses the second Mrs. de Winter's uneasy relationship with Manderlay and its servants, her "battle" with Rebecca, and Maxim's revelation of the truth, is more typically Hitchcockian than the rest of the movie. The director uses camera angles, editing, and music to emphasize the lead character's claustrophobia as it escalates to near-hysteria. Finally, the third section is part police procedural and part drama as the movie accelerates to its logical conclusion.

Hitchcock shows superb technical control and attends to his trademark motifs, from monstrous mother figures to the fetishisation of clothing (strong foreshadowings of ‘Vertigo’). The reason Rebecca still grips lies in the fact that we can all see ourselves in Fontaine's role: everyone plunged into a new and unfamiliar milieu has felt her uncertainty and fear that they are the wrong person, in the wrong place. Rebecca marks the most decisive single step both in Hitchcock’s career. This is Hitchcock's first movie after he moved to America from England. The experience opened whole new vistas of thematic and emotional expression, stimulating Hitchcock’s professional ambition and expanding his artistic aspirations. The result exhibits that the director is capable of a range few would credit him with. With Rebecca, he illustrates an aptitude for crafting not only psychological terror but drama and romance. (Source : Internet )
 


 

ALFRED HITCHCOCK

He was known to his audiences as the 'Master of Suspense' and what Hitchcock mastered was not only the art of making films but also the task of taming his own raging imagination. Director of such works as Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds and The 39 steps, Hitchcock told his stories through intelligent plots witty dialogue and a spoonful of mystery and murder. In doing so, he inspired a new generation of filmmakers and revolutionized the thriller genre, making him a legend around the world. Hitchcock was eccentric, demanding, inventive, impassioned and he had a great sense of British humor.
Hitchcock had his first shot of being the director of a film in 1923 when he was to direct the film "The Number 13", though the production was stopped. Hitchcock didn't give up then. He directed a film called "The Pleasure Garden" in 1925, a British/German production, which was very popular. In 1926, Hitchcock made his first notable film, "The Lodger". In the same year on the 2nd of December, Hitchcock married Alma Reville. They had one child called Patricia Hitchcock (born 7th July 1928).

His success followed when he made a number of films in Britain such as "The Lady Vanishes" (1938) and Jamaica Inn (1939), some of them which also made him famous in the USA. David O. Selznick, an American producer at the time, got in touch with Hitchcock and the Hitchcock family moved to the USA to direct an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (1940). It was when Saboteur (1942) was made, that films companies began to call his films after him; such as Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock's Family Plot, Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy. He retired soon after making Family Plot (1976). In late 1979, Hitchcock was knighted, making him Sir Alfred Hitchcock. On the 29th April 1980, 9:17AM, he died peacefully in his sleep.


Jul 12, 2017

16th July 2017 - GRADUATION



 

GRADUATION
A Film by Cristian Mungiu
2016, Romania, 123 minutes
16th July, 5.45 pm , Perks Mini Theater
http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.in/



A fascinating and fastidiously complex study of one man’s moral choices at a crucial juncture in his life, Cristian Mungiu’s “Graduation” is a thoroughgoing masterpiece which offers proof that Romania’s cinematic upsurge remains the most vital and important national film movement of the current century.  
Mungiu’s protagonist this time is a doctor named Romeo Aldea, who is about to turn 50, which means that he’s reached a certain mid-point in life: young enough to have an aged mother needing his attention, old enough to have a daughter about to graduate from high school. Other signs of mid-life’s challenges: he’s got a wife who’s as romantically alienated from him as he is from her and a mistress who’s threatening to end things if he doesn’t leave the wife for her. Of these four women, it’s the daughter, Eliza, who becomes the film’s dramatic crux as the story begins.
Romeo  tries to take measures into his own hands when he starts to fear his daughter won’t score the high grades she needs on her final exams. Believing that a scholarship to a British university is the girl’s best chance to flee the corruption and despair of their own country, he finds himself becoming what he hates most – someone who tries to game a corrupt system. But this is not a man who suddenly finds his worldviews compromised; rather, he fancies himself an idealist, above deceit and graft. 
Mungiu’s characters are never really clean, however. The system around them sucks, but they’re part of that system, too. In Graduation, that realization slowly sneaks up on you. The film pulls you into the characters’ competing webs of lies, but it never loses sight of their self-justifications. The people of “Graduation” are all very believable, both persuasively Romanian and recognizable to anyone in the middle-class West. Which is to say that Mungiu shows us lives that reflect certain looming social forces but that also are too messy and individual to add up to neat moral lessons. (Source:Internet )
 

Cristian Mungiu

Cristian Mungiu was born in Iași, in 1968. After studying English Literature at university, he worked as a teacher and journalist for the written press, radio and television. He then attended the Film and Theatre Academy in Bucharest and first feature film, Occident, premiered at the Directors’ Fortnight in 2002 and was a triumph back in Romania. In 2007, his second film, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days was awarded the Palme d’or. The film received and won several international distinctions.or. He returned to Cannes in 2009 as a writer-producer-co-director with the collective film Tales from the Golden Age and as a writer-director in 2012 with Beyond the Hills – double awarded for Best Screenplay and Best Actresses. He was a member of the Jury headed by Steven Spielberg at the 66th Festival de Cannes (2013). Graduation – his fifth film presented in Cannes – won the award for Best Director in 2016. -  http://www.festival-cannes.com


Jun 7, 2017

11th June 2017; Max Ophuls - The Earrings of Madame de…



  
 

The Earrings of Madame de...
A film by Max Ophuls
Starring Vittorio De Sica
1953/  France – Italy/ 105 minutes
5.45 pm at Perks Mini Theater
http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.in

“The Earrings of Madame de...,” directed in 1953 by Max Ophuls , is one of the most mannered and contrived love movies ever filmed. It glitters and dazzles, and beneath the artifice it creates a heart, and breaks it. The film is famous for its elaborate camera movements, its graceful style, its sets, its costumes and of course its jewelry. It stars Danielle Darrieux , Charles Boyer and Vittorio De Sica , who effortlessly embody elegance. The story takes place in Vienna a century or so ago. The General (Boyer) has married late, and well, to Louisa (Darrieux), a great beauty. He gives her expensive diamond earrings as a wedding present. She sells them to meet her debts.  Then fate takes over. She meets the handsome Baron. Their tragedy is that the intensity of her love carries her outside the rules, while the Baron remains safely in-bounds.In this charming film, the travels of a the pair of heart-shaped diamond earrings of Louisa impel the plot.


Louisa and her husband live in a society where love affairs are more or less expected; “your suitors get on my nerves,” the General fusses as they leave a party. If they do not know specifically who their spouse is flirting with, they know generally. But there is a code in such affairs, and the code permits sex, but not love. “Our marriage is only superficially superficial,” says Monsieur de, played by Charles Boyer (in his first French film since before the war), as he gingerly approaches the subject of her new lover with his flighty, distracted wife. For Louisa, the earrings teach a lesson. She is no more morally to blame than her husband or her lover, if only adultery is at stake. But if the General's honor is the question--if being gossiped about by the silly admiral's wife is the result--then she is to blame. 
In the end nothing remains of Madame de except for the pair of earrings — diamonds cut in the shape of a heart — which she leaves behind as an offering in a dank neighborhood church. But as Ophüls’s camera closes in on them, moving across the empty church to the glass case that contains them, marked with a silver plaque with her name, we see the diamonds have become her: glittering, transparent, icily beautiful, they are now illuminated by a flickering candle, a trembling spirit that nothing can erase. This ending, one of the most beautiful in the movies, contains the essence of Ophüls’s art. 
(Source: Internet)
Max Ophuls (1902-1957)
Max Ophuls (1902-1957) was a German who made films in Germany, Hollywood and France. His career was used by the critic Andrew Sarris as a foundation-stone of his auteur theory. Sarris famously advised moviegoers to value thehowof a movie more than thewhat. The story and message are not as important, he said, as the style and art. In Ophuls, he had a good test case, because Ophuls is seemingly the director most obsessed with surfaces, with the visual look, with elaborate camera movements. He was dismissed by many as nothing more than a fancy stylist, and it took Sarris (and the French auteurists) to show what a master he was.

His films are one of the great pleasures of the cinema. "Madame de..." is equaled by “La Ronde” (1950) and "Lola Montes" (1955) as movies whose surfaces are a voluptuous pleasure to watch, regardless of whether you choose to plunge into their depths. The long, impossibly complex opening shot of “La Ronde,” with the narrator introducing us to the story and even singing a little song, is one of the treasures of the movies. And who else has such romantic boldness that he will show Louisa writing her Baron day after day, with no letter back, and then have him tell her when they finally meet: “I always answered your letters, my love--but I lacked the courage to mail them.” And then to show his unmailed letters torn into bits and flung into the air to become snow.