Movie Reviews

Firstly, let us appreciate the guts of its producer, Thomas Langman, who made this experiment possible in the world that is filled with 3-D and CG films. Director Michel Hazanavicius took the audacious of task of making this silent wonder an eminently watchable film. The impeccable lead artistes—Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo— add glory on their part with their charming act. And the screen stealer is Uggie - a small dog, an accomplice of the protagonist. The story is set in the tumultuous years 1927-32 (a very crucial period for both cinema and politics). We are introduced to the world of George Valentin, a larger-than-life hero of Silent movie era. When talkies were talk of the town, Valentin reluctantly avoids (like Charlie Chaplin) the new form of Cinema. But for the unknown girl, Peppy Miller, who bumps into Geroge Valentin's show, gets the chance of acting in films. She even gets a valuable advice from the Superstar George Valentin how to become a star. From that moment a bond develops between these two. Later she uses the opportunity of acting in talkies and emerges as a well-known star. Like "A Star is Born," as the unwilling George is seeing depth of his career primarily due to his reluctance in acting talkies. At the same time, unknown Peppy Miller's fortune touches the sky. When the Geroge Valentin's agonized wife banishes him, he moves away from the house with his soulful companion - Uggie the dog. The shrewd dog also saves his master from the fire accident. When George is about to commit suicide, Peppy Miller enters and changes the course of his life with a novel proposal that Geroge can't refuse. Constructed upon this simple premise, the movie captures our attention. The primary reason is nothing but the lead artistes who alights the screen with their magnetic performances. The music is too good, so do the art work. Each and every scene is crafted with perfection, making this 100-minute movie a one-of-a-kind gem. The lead star Jean Dujardin ( a reputable French comedian) gets the continuous applause throughout the film for his flawless portrayal of the silent movie star. Likewise, the female lead artiste also gives an equally riveting performance. The facts behind the making of this movie are equally amazing.
The movie is shot in colour and while post-production changed into black and white. Barring a few dialogues at the end, the entire movie has no spoken word. Like the silent films, captions provided wherever necessary. The scenes are constructed in such a manner there is no need for dialogues. For the final 2-minutes song sequence alone, the lead artistes rehearsed for almost 6-months! Totally there are three dogs enacted the role of Uggie. Like the good old silent films, the filmmaker used plenty of close-ups and humour-inducing scenes to makes the show live and brisk. Eventually the movie got rousing reception wherever it screened and got countless number of awards, including the prestigious Best Picture Academy Award at Oscars. Evoking the memories of bygone era, the filmmaker created a compelling film that is worthy to watch and cherish. Deeply moving, gently heartwarming, the Artist is a standout drama that will transport you to the glorified days of silent era - an immensely gratifying experience. If you have a time, watch this film. Otherwise, make some time to watch this marvel.


R. Srinivasan

Based on the stories, 'Roshomon' and 'In a Grove' by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, this is a masterpiece by the legendary Akira Kurosawa.

Highly regarded for its philosophical undertones and its exploration of the unfathomable human psyche, 'Roshomon' is a brilliantly spun riddle. It is about the four people, who give four different versions of the testimonies at the court, on the recently occurred crime.

The story is set in ancient Japan, where three passers-by seek shelter from intense rain in the ruined temple called Roshomon. Two of the witnesses, a dumbfounded woodcutter (Takashi Shimura) and a priest (Minoru Chiaki), are narrating the crime trial to the commoner. More than the crime, they are astonished to witness the testimonies of three people, connected with the crime, which shatters their faith in humanity.

A man (Masayuki Mori) has been murdered, and his wife (Machiko Kyo) was allegedly raped, while they were traveling in the woods. A notorious bandit (Toshiro Mifune) has been arrested, regarding this despicable act. As the trial starts, the fabricated lies resurface over truth. According to the bandit, he and the man waged a war after the rape, resulting in the man's death.

But the woman's version is that she was rejected by her husband, after being raped. So, with uncontrollable grief, she killed him. However, the dead man testifies, through the medium, that the bandit insisted to marry the woman after the rape, but the woman demanded the bandit should kill her husband first. The angry bandit left the place and the guilty-conscious man committed suicide. According to the woodcutter, the woman had manipulated the two men, who were finally pushed to gruesome fight that lead to the man's death.

All these testimonies are believably told to the viewers, making them the judges of this baffling trial At Oscars, the board of governors voted 'Roshomon' as the most outstanding foreign language film released in the US in 1951. This was an enormously challenging task for the artistes who had to enact in 3 different ways for the same story and they excel. Toshiro Mifune attained worldwide fame for enacting the clumsy bandit's role with insurmountable passion.

'Roshomon' is not about analyzing the chronological facts or its relevance. It focuses on, how perspective distorts reality and makes the absolute truth unknowable. Eventually, this movie has been touted as the classic case study for the film students, connoisseurs and movie critics, all over the world.

This simple-looking tale, with its complex web of deceptive elements, remains as the finest cinematic riddle unsolved!


R. Srinivasan

Roshomon (1950)

Kurosawa's journey into human psyche In search of truth!

Schindler's List (1993)

Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.

Schindler's List, Steven Spielberg's masterpiece, is based on the novel written by Thomas Keneally. At the height of WW II, the Jews are ordered to register their family members' names and relocate to major cities in Europe. They are forcibly pushed into an area of only sixteen square blocks, called as ghettos.

Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a Czech-born businessman and member of Nazi party, finds the war a suitable opportunity to make money. Schindler, the womanizer, appoints a Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), and assigns him to recruit the Jews, including beautiful women.

Schindler's metal factory is the haven for the thousands of Jews to escape from the merciless Nazis. He slowly changes his attitude towards Jews and even persuades ruthless Nazi officer Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) to show his humane face. At a time, when the fierce battle is ravaging Europe, Schindler make his list of Jews to transport them to his hometown. Schindler risks his life and goes bankrupt to save more than 1,000 Jews from certain death in concentration camps. Today, more than six thousand descendants of the Schindler's Jews are living in different parts of the world with his memory.

Nominated for 12 categories, Schindler's List won 7 Oscars.

Thomas Keneally's novel 'Schindler's Ark' is based on interviews with 50 Schindler survivors as well as other written testimonies and sources. To gather costumes for 20,000 extras, the costume designer took out advertisements seeking clothes. When permission denied shooting the death camp inside Auschwitz, a mirror-image set was created outside the real location. The highly acclaimed, touching drama is the only movie from 90's ranked in American Film Institute's top ten list. Spielberg called Schindler's List 'the most satisfying experience of his career.' Steven Spielberg's emotionally packed melodrama drenches us in tears with its realistic creation of sorrowful Holocaust days.


R. Srinivasan

In the finest tradition of great courtroom dramas, this qualitative movie occupies a paramount position. This fictionalized trial is based on the real trials against Nazis, which took place in various parts of Europe, soon after World War II. The trial circumstances are extremely delicate. The four accused did not commit any crime, nor were they a part of the upper-echelons of power. They were in fact judges, middlemen; just assigned for the task that Hitler desired them to do.

In this boiling situation, American Judge, Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracey), reaches Germany to lead a tribunal to determine their fate. While the whole world is watching the trial with bewildering raw emotions, he must confront his own notions of good and bad, right and wrong. Col. Tad Lawson (Richard Widmark), prosecution attorney, places his convincing arguments, by showing sorrowful holocaust visuals. The equally salubrious Hans Rolfe (Maximilian Schell), a defense attorney, appears on behalf of accused, with his emotionally touching arguments.

As the arguments cross, phase-by-phase, the on-lookers on the dais are shell-shocked about their upsetting past. Above all, the prosecution witness Rudolph Petersen (Montgomery Clift) and defendant judge Dr. Ernst Janning's (Burt Lancaster) emotive testimonies makes it a difficult task for the judges, who are already overwhelmed by the proceedings.

On the other hand, the Cold War is heating up and no one wants any more trials and everybody wants to forget the past. But, whether that's the right thing to do, is the question that the tribunal must decide Nominated for 11 Categories, the movie won 2 Oscars and 2 Golden Globes out of 3 nominations.

They say big actors need big theaters to showcase their fullest potential. Undeniably, this is one such stage and the artistes too excel. The Nuremberg trials were the first war crime trials in modern history, and later they were published as blue series, green series and red series, by the US.

A scene, where Spencer Tracey walks in the ruined city and at one place visualizes the Hitler's speech, is a master touch. Abby Mann's script was built upon no ostentatious word play, but sensitively constructed evocative arguments. The effective black and white photography and highly rated set pieces are the other factors that make this an eternal classic.

This seminal work of the master craftsman gives hope to the marginalized people, who are suppressed, oppressed and therefore depressed.


R. Srinivasan

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

Argumentative drama… At its best!

Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

Democracy in action!

'To speak his thought is every freeman's right, in peace and war, in council and in fight.' Homer.

In 2004, amid a loud 15-minutes standing ovation, 'Farenheit 9/11' got the Best Documentary Film Award at the Cannes Film Festival, exemplifying its overwhelming clout.

Michel Moore, a man known for his earlier popular documentaries like 'Bowling for Columbine,' produced this devastating piece of 'truthful account.' Narrated by the director, this is based on several newspapers, magazine articles and books published on this controversial subject. It is a critical analysis about America's war on terror, precisely, how the nation was misguided by its leader, President George W. Bush.

The film opens with George W. Bush's much controversial election victory (year 2000) over his rival Al Gore. In the following parts unfolds the disgraceful way in which the Nation was betrayed by the smartly manipulated campaigns by Bush and Co. This film thoroughly examines the Bushes' and Saudi Royal family's business connection, long before the September 11 terrorist attack. Soon after 11/9, the unseen visual shows President Bush's reaction, in fact his inaction! We also come to know that more than any valid reason oil interest was behind the invasion of Iraq, in which America also faced heavy casualty. Sarcastically, Moore tells how the 'freedom of war' deformed into 'business of war' in Bush-instigated Iraq war. A touching interview with an American mother, who lost her son to the Iraq war, mournfully shows the real loss of the common man. Showing its deceptive 'freedom campaigns,' the ordinary people, mostly blacks and deprived, were literally 'caught' by the US Government, the visual shows! In one segment, through a smartly enacted drama, Moore reveals the Congressmen's evasion of sending their own daughters or sons to war-front!

This gritty film unfolds misuse of government authorities to manipulate the secret documents, popularly quoted in the media as 'sexing up' of documents. The film also made possible for us to hear the voices along with gruesome visuals of ordinary Iraqis and their sorrows. A well presented, persuasively argued and highly regarded as unbiased this critically acclaimed documentary is a cherished treasure of free speech.

'Freedom lies in being bold.' Robert Frost


R. Srinivasan