Monday, April 13, 2009

Viewed: BAMAKO

Bamako, a French film, has good intentions, moving reality, however the film delves into too much verbose to be very effective.

A story of a small locality in the city of Bamako, where Africans struggle to live their daily lives in poverty, where a courtyard within the small village has been turned into an open-court. Two parallel lives go along with the people's lives and the court in action, where the value of IMB and intentions of 'capitalist' nations are questioned.

It's a touching tale showing the reality of the times - do people, who live hand-to-mouth really care about the world affairs, when all they want are basic amenities - it has touching moments including humorous onesbut drags with its depiction.

Writer: Abderrahmane Sissako
Director: Abderrahmane Sissako

Rating **1/2

[Max ****]

[Viewed on 9th April at CFS, French Film Festival at 50s Cafe]

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Article: Cartoon films give kids 'wrong signal'

Classic cartoon flicks have been entertaining kids for decades. Now, psychologists have claimed that these films are giving children the "wrong message" about how to deal with "stranger danger".

A new study by Carleton University has claimed that classic cartoon films contain scenes in which children receive "unwanted personal contact" or "threatening approaches" from adults, and fail to set an example the way they respond.

According to the psychologists, the cartoon films also undermine efforts to teach children about personal safety and how to minimise the risk of sexual abuse by treating victims' discomfort with humour, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.

"It is possible viewing these scenes could influence children to believe that telling a trusted adult about a stranger's advances is unnecessary because the film characters model successful independence," the study said.

In fact, the psychologists came to the conclusion after analysing 47 animated Walt Disney films, all released between 1937 and 2006.

They found that six films - 'Robin Hood', 'Sleeping Beauty', 'Cinderella', 'The Little Mermaid', 'The Sword in the Stone', and 'A Goofy Movie' -- depict children and adolescent characters experiencing unwanted personal contact.

A further four films - 'Snow White', 'Pinocchio', 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'The Jungle Book' -- were found to show child-like characters in risky situations where strangers approach them with "hidden malevolence" and promise rewards in exchange for their compliance.

"The depictions of child and adolescent characters being grabbed and kissed against their will by adult characters is particularly problematic for the boy characters Wart (The Sword in the Stone), Flounder (The Little Mermaid), and Skippy (Robin Hood), because the context is humorous.

"The treatment would probably be upsetting if it happened to a real child, and treating it as humorous is directly contradicting sexual safety education
that teaches children that they get to decide who touches their bodies," the study's lead author Dr Wendy Hovdestad said.

The findings are published in the latest edition of the 'Child Abuse' journal.

The article

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Small films touching ordinary lives can be 'big' films. The Visitor walks that path and does a neat job in portraying the life of a professor whose life undergoes a change when he encounters strangers & connects with them.

Walter, the professor, a successful academician lives a lonely life in Connecticut. He appears brooding & aloof, and struggles to learn piano. Much against his wishes he is asked to go to present a paper in New York. When he reaches his apartment that he hasn't visited for years, he discovers a young couple staying in his house. As he allows them to stay, he builds a bond with Tarek, a Syrian who teaches him to play drum.

His life starts to open up but Tarek is caught by the police. Walter discovers that he is illegal and hires a lawyer to fight for him. Strangers become his family, and the circle closes with Tarek's mother arriving in New York. He helps her by being the contact with her son and as they interact more, they develop a special bond - two single people heading towards the twilight of their lives and finding peace with each other. However, the journey ends in a sort of a bittersweet way.

The film, like Walter, moves somewhat slowly, but picks up momentum when he discovers the young man. Together they bring a spark to the screen; a young man passing the youth to the older man. The story is of Walter how he tries to find meaning in his life but at the same time it touches issues of immigrants, post 9/11 usa's toughness; Tarek, the visitor comes illegally and helps find a lost American find meaning in his life.

It dabbles in interesting themes and tells the story very simply. At times, the film tries to be cute on-the-face, does justice to the journey of Walter. It seems to go on predictable paths, but then changes tracks to bring-in added momentum. Living alone, after losing his 'beautiful' wife, he finds a family,  a soul-mate and music that has made him alive.

Richard Jenkins, nominated for Oscar does a decent job; he plays a character that is never overt about his emotions, under the hood, yet...depicting the personality of a person who isn't too alive. The plan is to show him underplay throughout and later open him up thereby showing the arc. However some times it seems as if the character is too closed for comfort.

Haaz Sleiman plays Tarek; he is helped by a character who brings gaiety, and Tarek does a great job in doing that. His on-screen partner, Danai Gurira gives a solid performance too. It's Hiam Abbas, as the mother, whose character seems uni-dimensional playing the sad mother. certain scenes, the poignancy shines well when Mouna shares the pain with Walter.

The film appears small with not so known actors and that appears to be its strength. It works pretty well. Those who can enjoy films at languid pace, which delve more into irony and sadness, would have a good time with this one.

Writer: Tom McCarthy
Director: Tom McCarthy

Rating ***1/2

[Max ****]

[Viewed on 5th April at Hampden, courtesy rental DVD]

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Bond is fun, and with Daniel Craig as the 007, you are always captivated watching him.

The film has it all - chases, killings, cute babes and plot that takes you across countries. Carrying on from the previous, Casino Royale, you have Bond as cold mean machine, though...with a brooding outlook courtesy the love that he lost. This really gives him an interesting edge, though at times, the plot seems to be going too fast for comfort, as such it kinda drags!

Though with the clearly-defined evil guys and the good guys taking them on, it tends to be fun, as you watch Bond at his best, with Craig being rock-solid. The screen always comes alive when 'M' comes into the picture; Judi Dench is terrific like ever and undoutedly, M and Bond make one helluva couple to watch.

Writers: Paul Haggie, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade
Director: Marc Forster

Rating ***

[Max ****]

[Viewed on 3rd April at Hampden, courtesy rental DVD]

Friday, April 3, 2009

Blogs @ PFC - Censor + Exhibitor - Producers Rift

Recently I happened to meet up with an executive with one of the production houses and I broached the topic of the impasse with him. He had an interesting take on the issue. He pointed out that the film industry can give even the politicians a run for their money as far as chameleon quality is concerned. Therefore according to him, the issue may just be resolved on its own with a lot of work being done behind the scenes!

It was just a trailer, you might say. Chill. Sorry but the lusty manner in which the 'only good for one thing' was applauded by the male section of the audience at Bombay's Apsara cinema, had to be heard to be believed.
Ms Sharmila Tagore should step out of her ivory-tower-like censor office on Walkeshwar, and see what kind of an impact, a clearly chauvinistic piece of dialogue can have on a sizeable part of the audience.

Incidentally, I was told that the trailer has an A certificate..but it was shown before the screening of Aa Dekhen Zara which has an UA certificate. So, what's going on?