Friday, May 8, 2015

Run, Melos! 1992

Melos, a Greek country lad, has to run against impossible odds to his place of execution, to save the life of the sculptor Celine, who has substituted in his stead, to enable Melos to attend his sister's wedding. If he fails to make it by the stipulated time, before the sun sets, Celine will lose his life. This is a beautiful Japanese animation, depicting a life and death drama where the stake is the fulfillment of a promise. The animation breathes the sunny Greek environment, and the characters are alive in this tale of simple heroism.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Last Days in Vietnam...2014

This engrossing documentary chronicles a less familiar part of Asian history. After the resignation of Nixon, the armies of the communist North advance southward like a tidal wave. Thousands of lives are in peril: the Americans and the Vietnamese who fought alongside them. The last minute "exodus" by land and sea, including hordes keen for a free ticket to the "promised land", is depicted in detail. It is a picture of tragedy and grandeur, as two populations, same in language, race and culture, separated only by different schools of political indoctrination, come into bloody conflict. War perhaps is part of our ancestral genes, inciting awe and adrenalin rush, sooner than pity.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Saraband 2002

Thirty years have passed. Johan and Marianne are in their eighties and sixties respectively, Bergman also is in his mid eighties when he makes this movie. Johan, having inherited a fotune, has escaped into a remote villa surrounded by a magnificence of landscape. He spends his time in the company of books. Age delights in old and worn out stuff--the villa in the pit of mountains is furnished with aged things--it has a beauty of sparsity and passage of and longevity which conveys something of Bergman's soul--indeed Johan must have the signature of the director's persona. Marianne, after a separation of decades, impulsively visits him. His neurotic widowed son and musically precocious and beautiful grand daughter live in the vicinity.

Time has creased their faces and enfeebled the body, but for the rest, they are the same individuals, with a shift of circumstances. Johan has become unpleasant, in a position to vent his negative side, particularly towards his relatively impecunious son. Death is a distant thought, a theoretical enigma, even as it approaches. It is rightly said that death creeps in from the rear, more than lying in ambush ahead. It is a fine movie, Bergman at his melancholy best in what happens to be his final work. If there is a message, it is about how little, rather than how much, people change.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Scenes from a Marriage 1974

A study of adult relations, with all their uncertainty. What distinguishes a dead relationship from a living one? The couple portrayed is socially and materially placed above survival and rat race, the better to focus on elemental issues. Happiness is tantalizingly close, yet elusive as a bird, People  are ever thirsty travelers. The machinery of the mind is inscrutable and complex.  This invisibility shapes our life, The movie is enjoyable to watch, comprising six short riveting episodes. It has a sequel, Saraband, made thirty years later, portraying the same couple played by the same actors.

Monday, April 20, 2015

American Beauty 1999

This is a sad, philosophical, poetic, brilliant comedy capturing life in suburban US. It sympathetically satires with wistful relish the concerns and dreams of our daily life; jobs, money, property, automobiles,the desire to escape the treadmill, the starvation of interhumaness. The hero does break out of it, entering, so to say, one more groove till finally the curtains pull apart, revealing the make believe, and he flies up to a vaster view of reality. Even his death mask is a sardonic grin. It can be enjoyed more than once, so light is the touch, so sparkling and witty the lines,  the episodes deft and so skillfully woven.
To quote the concluding lines:
I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die, First of all......that one second isn't a second at all. It stretches on forever, like an ocean of time For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp watching falling stars. And yellow leaves from th maple trees that lined our street……I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me but it's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst. And then I remember to rela and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitudefor every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure But don't worry.You will someday