Thursday, September 25, 2014

Like Father, Like Son 2013 Kore-eda

Two children get interchanged after birth. The exchange becomes known to both sets of parents after six years. The conflict in the minds of both parents and the children and the attempt to re-exchange them form the subject of this delicately told film. In a film without dramatic peaks and so simple and domestic in setting, to handle the nuances of feeling with such delicacy is no mean feat. The drama is one that plays out in the hearts, and Koreada has plucked the emotional strings like a musical instrument. This is like a less verbose Bergman

Friday, September 19, 2014

Enemies of the People 2009

The Pol Pot era (1975-9) in Cambodia is recreated through a series of interviews. The killers at different levels, from poor peasants to the senior most living person of the ex hierarchy, are engaged in dialog by the film-maker, who lost his own family in the pogroms. Following the format and tradition of Lanzmann, this movie has the stamp of authenticity and immediacy.Such is the might of organisations that people can be made to perform the most hideous actions, as long as the command comes from above. The feature of the movie is mute understatement, coming from its aim of historical veracity: one has to remind oneself it really happened, while reconstructing the hell of the killing fields. The title, incidentally, refers to the victims.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Act of Killing 2013

In a less publicized genocide over two million communists were exterminated in Indonesia in 1965. The perpetrators remain in power, and are secure in their impunity. In this documentary, some of those who actually did the killings, at times sickeningly gruesome, tell the details in front of the movie camera in the form of a crude re-enaction. The film has a carnival atmosphere, with much joking, relish and pride and no contrition to speak of. At two and a half hours, I managed to finish it by skipping large chunks in the second half. The film is educative as an exploration of some regions of the human make up. To quote Roger Ebert, this is about "unremarkable men with dimly lit souls".

Roger Ebert's Review

Friday, September 5, 2014

Day of Wrath 1943 Dreyer

A drama of human frailty set in Holland in the era when witch trials and burning at the stake was common. It is a fevered society in which individuals are hunted down for no causeto be subjected to torture and death. Interwoven is the story of a priests second wife and her affair with a stepson older than herself which ends in predictable disaster. Dreyer's style of painterly black and white, ponderous speech with an aura of panic and fear, join to create a hard to forget film.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Missing Picture 2013 Rithy Panh

The film maker escaped in his teens from Pol Pot Cambodia, having lost his parents and siblings to hunger and atrocities. As a witness and victim of the genocide, he records his experience in this eery and powerful movie. He uses the unusual device of clay figurines and dioramas, with a French commentary reminiscent of  Resnais, to reconstruct the memories. The combination of commentary, footage, figures and diorama is effective in conveying the events and feelings. The magic achieved by the film is the life breathing through the mute clay models, far more expressive than real people. They become a medium to portray yet another holocaust, witnessed by a boy.