Friday, May 22, 2009

Cannes through Ebert

This is a special deal - insight into Cannes by Roger Ebert.

It's a must-read. If keen, go here every day:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blog - Unk : Do Yourself a Favor

A young bull and an old bull sit at the top of a grassy hill overlooking a pasture of cows. The young bull can't take his eyes off one of the cows below and remarks, "Hey, let's run down there and fuck that cow!"

The old bull, slightly dozing off, glances down to the pasture — back at his young companion and responds, "Let's walk down there and fuck'em all."

What does this joke mean to you as a screenwriter?


Cool. Then don't bother reading on…

Friday, May 15, 2009

"It is not enough to like a film. One must like it for the right reasons."

Ebert on Pierre Rissient

As is my custom, I fell into a deep and dreamless slumber after arriving at the Hotel Splendid from the overnight flights. I was awakened two hours later by Chaz: "Pierre Rissient is downstairs!" If Barack Obama had been downstairs, I would have rolled over and buried my head in the pillow. But Pierre! My mentor of all things Cannes! Who knows more different people in the world of cinema than any other man! And there he was, in the little lobby of the Splendid, deep in thought with Laura Kim! Laura! Who in her days as a publicist always knew the skinny on all the good films in a festival, and touted them even if they weren't hers.

Complete blog entry: Cannes #2: I spring up from my deep slumber

Ebert's 2007 article:

The next time you are at the Cannes, Toronto, Telluride, Pusan, Berlin, Venice or Sundance film festivals, you will see this man. His name is Pierre Rissient. You may also see him in Paris, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and in the weather reports.

It is probable that Pierre, a Frenchman, knows more directors, actors, distributors, exhibitors and critics than any other single person in the film industry. I call him Pierre because I have known him for 30 years, and in recent years he has given me my daily instructions every morning in the breakfast room of the Hotel Splendid at Cannes. Pierre issues a lot of instructions.

But who is he, and what does he do? These are the questions that Todd McCarthy, chief film critic for Variety, sets out to answer in his new documentary, "Man of Cinema: Pierre Rissient." As far as I am concerned, it could also be called "Pierre Rissient: International Man of Mystery."

Complete article: Toronto #7: One T-shirt after another

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


A highly acclaimed film lives to its billing as it tells a true story
of an ex-Elle editor, Jean-Dominque Bauby who suffered a paralytic
attack and writes a book by blinking his one eye.

One of the unique aspect of the film is that we become Bauby as we
keep seeing the world, especially in the initial part; the camera is
behind the one eye and the world is tilted. And since we are the eye,
we are also the mind; we hear his thoughts, which no one else can
hear, since...he can not speak. It's really a novel of depiction.

The high-achiever, Bauby initially carries an attitude of frustration
and depression but gradually realizes that he could still find meaning
in life; in the process of being limited to no movement, with nothing
to do on his own, he discovers the joys of his family; as his kids
interact more with him, he connects more with his father.

The world comes together to help him accomplish his objective. There
is out-pouring of love and affection from everyone and Bauby being
tied to a life of immobility finds his life enriched like never

It is a special film. A must-watch.

Based on the book, The Diving Bell & The Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Writer: Ron Howard
Director: Julian Schnabel

Rating ****

Max [****]

[Viewed on 16th April at Hampden from NetFlix]


Oh yes, saw it again...for the 3rd time i guess and loved Daniel Day Lewis's performance. The film is quite a character-study and shot so much outdoors, it looks pretty refreshing.

Writer: Wolfgang Becker, Bernd Lichtenberg
Director: Wolfgang Becker

Rating ****

Max [****]

[Viewed on 14th April at Hampden from Netflix]


Goodbye, Children (French Film)

This one is a special treat. A motion picture that gives a unique glimpse of the World War II.

Set during the Nazi Occupied France, based on director's Louis Malle childhood experience, the film is the story of a boy studying in a boarding school in a church who meets a gifted jewish kid.

Though they share the love of reading, he starts with being jealous of his skills but later as he secretly discovers his true identity, he becomes more fascinated with him and as he interacts more with him, they form a great bond.

Eventually a Gestapo raid takes away the kid along with others jewish boys and the father who has been hiding them to protect them from the Nazis.

The story is told from the point of view of the French kid and effectively is the tale of the two kids. In the process you see them going to school amidst the uncertainty of war.

The background of World War II of course has been dealt innumerable times. However seeing the lives of kids living for most part away in their own world during these times and then being affected by it makes it a unique setting, a fresh take. A not-to-be-missed film.

Writer: Louis Malle
Director: Louis Malle

Rating ****

Max [****]

[Viewed on 12th April at Hampden from Netflix DVD]


Considered one of the most brilliant screenwriters, Charlie Kaufman's films are never straight-forward and typically, on his debut directorial venture, we have a predictably not-so-linear tale. Unlike some of his previous films that captivate and move you, this one falls short of being exceptional.

This is a story of a theater director (Seymour Hoffman,) suffering from a medical disorder who struggles with his married life and is forever challenged to have balance in his life. He achieves recognition in theater and with money in his account he starts a production which replicates his life, only...the production is never staged and they keep rehearsing till they are into their twilight years.

The film as expected does not follow a normal narrative pattern. It stays close to the protagonist and tracks his advancement through the years. This is a play-within-a-film, and a character-within-character. By focusing on his own life, trying to understand events, aiming perhaps to discover himself, Hoffman's character, a great dramatist is at a loss to discern the drama in his life.

There are many moments wherein one feels for the Hoffman's character; his loneliness is apparent, and it's a story of unfulfillment. But the film doesn't seem to move much. We are introduced to his personal struggles and they keep repeating themselves - that's how life is, but...where's the conflict in play.

Even though you may feel for a helpless protagonist wrapped in self-pity, that does not necessarily create empathy. It's never easy to depict a passive character and Kaufman's story is refreshingly complex, lacks momentum.

Writer: Charlie Kaufman
Director: Charlie Kaufman

Rating **1/2

[Max ****]

[Viewed on 10th-11th April at Hampden, courtesy rental dvd]


Will Smith wears a forlorn look throughout the film and it doesn't work too great.

Affected by a personal tragedy he is on way to finish himself, but along the way he helps different people by donating his organs to them.

The story is supposed to be moving, but it tends to be contrived. What seems to be missing is key conflict - a man who has given up on the motivation to live is headed only one way, but...nothing comes in-between to a good degree to 'challenge' his beliefs. He keeps progressing successfully, which is a sort of a failure for the film.

Writer: Grant Nieporte
Director: Gabriele Muccino

Rating **

[Max ****]

[Viewed on 10th April at Hampden, courtesy rental dvd]


(German Film)

The Oscar nominee is nothing but a spectacular tale. Delving into the backdrop of merger of East-West Germany, it shows relationships at play, the most touching being the mother-son story.

It is a story of a son taking care of his ill mother, a staunch East-German loyalist. She goes into coma before the Wall breaks and when she comes back to 'life', the son tries every thing to keep letting her mother know that the Wall has broken, lest she gets excited endangering her life.

The film is great mix of genres - comedy, romance, thriller, politics and eventually, a super drama that is funny and moving. Try catching up on this one. It's going to be a great experience.

Writer: Wolfgang Becker, Bernd Lichtenberg
Director: Wolfgang Becker

Rating ****

[Max ****]

[Viewed on 9th April at Hampden, courtesy rental dvd]

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Article: Ashok Rane and his debut film

Ashok Rane is the only Marathi film critic to turn a filmmaker. His debut film Katha Tichya Lagnachi hits the screens on May 8. A film critic for the last 35 years, Ashok Rane has also been teaching cinema at Mumbai University. His subjects are screenplay writing and film appreciation.

"There are just a handful of cases of film critics turning directors in Hindi and other regional cinema. However, it is happening for the first time in Marathi," says Rane, whose passion for cinema, over the years, grew so strong that like every aspirant he wanted to make a film scripted by him.

Article: Touching a Chord

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Interview: Ray’s World

Satyajit Ray's greatest achievement was his celebration of the commonplace with lyricism and humanity
- Shyam Benegal

He was not a radical artist who shocked or startled audiences into his world. Satyajit Ray's greatest achievement was his celebration of the commonplace with lyricism and humanity. The pioneer of a new wave of realistic cinema in India, he is the most recognized Indian director in the world. In 1981, film-maker Shyam Benegal, an ardent fan of Ray, directed a memorable, now rare, documentary on the Oscar-winning director. In an extended interview, Ray talked in detail about his relationship with his mother, how he became a film-maker, and why he didn't believe in gimmicks.

To commemorate the auteur's 88th birth anniversary, 'Mint' reproduces excerpts from the interview: