Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lemonade. Beyoncé. 2016. Far from the love/sex drenched...

Lemonade. Beyoncé. 2016.

Far from the love/sex drenched earlier ‘visual album’, this time the self proclaimed diva conflates the personal with the political with a (reportedly autobiographical) wronged woman infidelity story arc intertwined with a history of the black women experience. What the two have to do with each other, I am not certain? Is she the black woman incarnate? Is Jay-Z’s supposed infidelity equated with the racism of the black experience? Or did Jay-Z sleep with a white woman? Music video more than movie, Beyoncé directs herself in full costume mode, from 19th century slave girl, to African heritage proud home girl, to girl in frills wielding a baseball bat like she means it. Along the way musically she reclaims rock and country for black women- a real political move, her voice going from a whisper to a moan, from a rage to wail. 'Don’t Hurt Yourself’ 'Freedom’ 'All Night’.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Centre Stage. Stanley Kwan. 1991. Chinese cinema’s...

Centre Stage. Stanley Kwan. 1991.

Chinese cinema’s iconic real and reel life tragedy of the suicide of Chinese Garbo Ruan Lingyu ( star of ‘the goddess’) is played up in style and melodrama in the film within the film, with black and white out takes of the contemporary cast discussing her life and her motives. The artifice of the era is played up in almost camp art deco settings and jazz era costumes. Maggie Cheung looks gorgeous.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ghashiram Kotwal. Mani Kaul, Kamal Swaroop, K Hariharan, Saeed...

Ghashiram Kotwal. Mani Kaul, Kamal Swaroop, K Hariharan, Saeed Mirza. 1976.

The plot of the original play with its sexual obsessions and Brahminical conspiracies and corruption in Peshwa Pune lies buried deep somewhere inside here. This collectively directed play turned film is staged meticulously in ambiguous, mannered disjointed sequences with narrators directly addressing the camera, long whirling takes in desolate Deccan landscapes, intertitles framing the sequences in history, and Peshwa men swaying to their own music, or that of a lavani dancer. While, Tendulkar’s text does not really ever step outside the labyrinth of Brahminical intrigue, the film takes on more, framing the story in the political intrigues between the competing powers, and also bring nagging up the caste question more directly. One scene critiques the adoption of Dalit icons Namdev and Tukaram as religious figures. Released just after Indira gandhi’s emergency was called off, and made during those years, it is easy to see it as critique however esoteric and abstract.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. Park Chan-wook. 2005. Jigsaw...

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. Park Chan-wook. 2005.

Jigsaw puzzle story telling with dream, past and present only seen in parts for the first half until she finds the man who forced her to do time for a crime she did not commit. Later the film settles into a long drawn out sequence with the bereaved families taking revenge.

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Man Is not a bird. Dusan Makavayev. 1965. Man is not a bird,...

Man Is not a bird. Dusan Makavayev. 1965.

Man is not a bird, nor is he an angel; all workers are not ideal in spite of what the propaganda says; and love is not simple. Yet they delude themselves into believing in the mythology. Hypnotised by ideology.

Two seamy love affairs are being played out in communist Yugoslavia in an ideal copper mining town, where an engineer from from the big city falls for a very young woman, and a love triangle between a worker, his wife and his mistress.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Jungle book. Jon Favreau. 2016. All that hyper realism,...

Jungle book. Jon Favreau. 2016.

All that hyper realism, immersive forest, feline and feral wild cats, a pack of Goan monkeys and a cuddly bear that has to naturally speak punjabi, does not necessarily make a more effective story than the version I saw when I was a kid. The analog animation then was, rather ‘differently abled’, still able to make me scared for Mowgli, love balloo and feel awful when he leaves the jungle just because he saw a pretty girl. Thank goodness that doesn’t happen in the reboot. Also, I can’t imagine how it might be to find images of these super realistic animals behind Gold Spot covers and stick them in my own Jungle Picture Book.

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Intolerance. D. W. Griffith. 1916. Some terrific sequences-...

Intolerance. D. W. Griffith. 1916.

Some terrific sequences- parallel chases intercut in the climax, the battle scenes and spectacular set design all around (especially in the Babylon section) notwithstanding, the supposed Intolerances of these 4 stories separated by many distances of space and time seem too pat and politically problematic whether it is the unattractive sexless women who choose to cleanse the city of all sin-especially some fun; or the evil Cyrus with his army of Ethiopians(?!) and Barbarians(?!) against the towering Babylonian paradise. The other story is marked by its Protestant Christianity as it demonises (and feminizes) Catholicism; and the film ends with the crucifixion. This, in spite of the story that I heard that this was his reply to the flak he got for the racism of ‘The Birth of the Nation’. Art rails against intolerance but is blind to its own.

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