Portrait of a Lady on Fire |2019| ‘Portrait de la jeune fille en feu’| Directed by Céline Sciamma|

 

Héloïse: I’ve dreamt of that for years.
Marianne: Dying?
Héloïse: Running. 

There is a thought of love, a memory that lives within. A mystery that surrounded her, the unfinished painting that left an intrigue, a distraction needed, she followed her through the fog into landscape… She started to run towards and stopped at the edge. She turned and looked her. At that moment, she fell in love.

I have been in constant thought of this movie since morning. It hasn’t left, it just grew inside my heart. I don’t know why but a story where the love takes its time, the build up, the little moments, the new introductions and the silence somehow make me fall in love with a movie immediately. And if it makes me cry then…

Written and Directed by Céline Sciamma, Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu) is a story set on an isolated island in Brittany, where Marianne a young painter been commissioned to paint a portrait of a young woman named Héloïse, who is to be married off to a Milanese nobleman. Marianne is informed that Héloïse has previously refused to pose for portraits as she does not want to be married. Marianne acts as Héloïse’s hired companion to be able to paint her in secret, and accompanies her on daily walks to memorize Héloïse’s features.

Every second Marianne spends with Héloïse, she starts to feel more and more for her but when it comes to the Portrait and the reveal of truth to Héloïse, she gets agitated and after Héloïse critics her, she just destroys the portrait. But Héloïse agreeing to pose for her brings in a new light. The beauty that Sciamma brings through these two characters is about love. Every feature, the story Héloïse reads, the opera tune Marianne plays for her, the talk about love and the intrigue for it, just brings a strong emotional effect on the viewer.

The delicacy and sophistication that each frame brings, the close ups and capturing every bit of of that nervousness and kind of cute interactions between Héloïse and Marianne just makes you fall in love even more. The walk in the town and the scene when everyone starts to sing and that moment between Héloïse and Marianne is just breathtaking.

Every conversation between them, especially the flirting is just a serve I have to say. I love how they knew about each other and what they did if they felt nervous, angry, annoyed or just lost. Even their bonding with Sophie, the maid and how they help her in her time of need and support her was really beautiful to watch.

Another scene I liked was when Marianne is trying to paint Héloïse but she is teasing her and she comes closer, ordering her to be still and gets even closer and kisses her. And the scene where Héloïse fell asleep in the kitchen and Marianne started painting her. And the BEACH SCENE!!!!!! BREATHTAKING!!!!!

I’ll remember when you fell asleep in the kitchen.

Looks like I am talking about every scene now. I will stop. Claire Mathon’s cinematography made me speechless. The frames can be showcased at a gallery. Fantastic, brilliant, breathtaking, masterpiece, beautiful, lovely…

Adele Haenel as Héloïse and Noémie Merlant as Marianne give one of the best performances of this year. The way they have carried their characters is like a acting masterclass in motion. The argument scene between them is my favorite one and the sequence that occurs after that on the beach. And the final scene… Standing Ovation. César Award for Best Actress right there. The chemistry between Adele and Noémie is so natural.

This is why I love cinema, this movie itself is like a portrait being painted. Every part, frame and moment is delicately orchestrated. It is something so beautiful that I wanted to experience it again and again. I was left speechless. If someone had asked me right after the movie how I felt, I would have just tried to make up some words to create an sentence. Like it is said in the movie, I am now making the lovers poet’s choice not the writers.

The final scene. P.28. The opera. The close up…

“When do we know it’s finished?”
“At some point, we stop.”

I don’t think I can. Sorry. MASTERPIECE!!!!

Rating : 5/5

You Were Never Really Here |2017| Directed by Lynne Ramsay

In this tale of a world filled with dark corners, Joe, a former veteran with PTSD, is a hired gun who rescues trafficked girls. He cares for his elderly mother in his childhood home in New York City. He has flashbacks from his time in field and childhood.

Directed by Lynne Ramsay, Joe gets a new assignment from McCleary, his handler. A New York State Senator, Albert Votto, has offered a large sum of money to discreetly find and rescue his abducted daughter, Nina. Joe accepts the job and searches for Nina and prepares to rescue her which he does. But soon things starts to reveal themselves, things that make Joe look into more of his flashbacks that turn into nightmare with every person he cared about is gunned down with Nina abducted again.

The story is focused on Joe and not the job he is doing or the conspiracy that leads everything moving forward. It is concerning, it is brutal, it is emotional and distraught. It is pushed into darkness out into a world where Joe finds himself determined in the wake of saving the girl.

The final scene in the diner is just incredible and the scene where Joe breaks down after killing people to save Nina. This is a movie where you will learn something everytime you will watch it. From the tour de force acting from Joaquin Phoenix who fully transforms himself into Joe to the incredible filmmaking from the great Lynne Ramsay. Jonny Greenwood pumps into the story with his majestic score. The runtime is short but the movie itself is so grand and layered through its lead character that you are left with an image of a movie that you never want to forget.

Rating : 5/5

A Quiet Place |2018| Directed by John Krasinski

It is so astonishing to watch a simple narrative done right with such finesse and smartness. A Quiet Place is about a family who must live life in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound. With its runtime just about 90 minutes, the movie achieves everything it sets out. Everything is silence around, even when you are sitting in a theater, the slightest sound sets you off.

John Krasinski directing his second feature does an incredible job both behind and in front of the camera with incredible support from Emily Blunt whose pregnancy scene in the movie really had me in panic. When she steps on the nail and just can’t shout out for the reason you are screaming internally for what she might be feeling right then.

I was kind of in doubt on how they are going to handle the baby situation in the story but as the movies moves they show as well as they can. A Quite Place is more about the family and protection rather than the creature. It produces the horror elements through the characters and how they are careful on not making any sound no matter what the circumstance because the opening sequence really sets the movie to the get go.

Cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen does an incredible job capturing the fear and bond of the family. The use of sound is one of the most important part of the movie and the placement of the sound is just perfect.

Rating : 4/5

Ready Player One |2018| Directed by Steven Spielberg

I grew up watching Steven Spielberg movies. His movies made me fall in love with Cinema, the story, the emotions, the fear and everything. I still remember crying so much after watch ET, terrified after watching Jaws and being over the top with Close Encounters of Third Kind. Even after so many years, everytime a Steven Spielberg movie comes out I am so much excited and more to the fact that I am watching it on the big screen.

I had read Ready Player One novel a year back and I have to say didn’t like it very much. Even after watching the trailer of the movie didn’t made me much enthusiastic, but I knew to trust in Spielberg’s power of storytelling and I have to say this is a movie that is much much better than the novel. Ready Player One is a story set in 2045, where most of the population is living in slum like cities. There isn’t much to face in real life so they escape in a virtual world which is called ‘Oasis’, a game built by James Halliday. After his death, Halliday created a game Anorak’s Quest. 

The person who finishes the quest is promised full ownership of OASIS among other gifts. This has attracted a number of Gunters (“egg hunters”) to play the game. Innovative Online Industries (IOI), a video game conglomerate and manufacturer of most of the virtual reality equipment used to access the OASIS, also seeks ownership of the virtual reality world, and its CEO, Nolan Sorrento, has amassed an army of debt-indentured players, known as Sixers (due to their six-digit identification), to seek the prize. However, to date, no one has managed to finish the first quest, a vehicle race across an ever-shifting version of New York City.

Wade Watts  an orphaned, 18-year-old  goes by his avatar Parzival, and has partnered with Aech, a male avatar that serves as a virtual mechanic. He later befriends well-known player Art3mis after saving her from being “zeroed out”, which would reset their avatar’s character progression, by King Kong. Wade decides to study the virtual OASIS library to learn about Halliday’s personal life, hoping to find a hint to finish the race.

As Wade finds the clue, finishes the race and gets the first key, the quests starts to become more interesting. We learn more about Halliday and what he wanted the person to learn from this game and the winner. The most beautiful thing about this movie are the visuals. The pop culture references, The Shining bit where you go back to Kubrick’s world of fear, the virtual reality, The Iron Giant and the how the characters meet outside the Oasis is something a pure treat to watch.

Spielberg manages to capture every soul and heart of the story. When the movie reaches the finale you see the message Halliday wanted to tell and what he regretted the most and what was his Rosebud. From being entertaining and emotional, Ready Player One is one of the best blockbuster movie ever made. And what is even more fantastic is that Spielberg managed to make a extraordinary movie through a mediocre novel.

The characters introduced to us remain with us till the end. The bad guy has a motive to something to fight for rather just being there for the purpose of bad guy. Even with a runtime of 140 minutes, there is not a single second where you feel it is getting lazy or anything rather when it finishes I wanted more.

Janusz Kamiński does an extraordinary job with his cinematography capturing the essence of the movie. With John Williams not scoring this one Alan Silvestri does a good job with the score.

Ready Player One is a classic blockbuster movie that entertains throughout with pop culture references from the movies you grew up with or j=have just watched recently. I can understand why Spielberg didn’t include his movies, but adding Blade Runner would have been something great to witness here. I urge everyone to watch this one in IMAX screens if possible.

Rating : 4/5

 

The Commuter |2018| Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

In their fourth collaboration together with a story quite similar to Non Stop except Liam Neeson is in train now. The Commuter is a story about Michael MacCauley, a former police officer, who is a family man with a wife and son. He goes through the same routine train commute to work and back every day, only to be fired from his job as a life insurance salesman after ten years.

On the train, Michael meets a mysterious woman named Joanna. Joanna proposes a hypothetical situation to Michael, asking him to do one little thing, the results of which would have consequences that he would know nothing about, but would affect one of the passengers on the train. Joanna’s one little thing that she wants Michael to do is locate “Prynne,” an unknown passenger, and plant a GPS tracker on them. Out of curiosity, Michael searches the bathroom and finds an envelope with $25,000, and realizes that the situation is not hypothetical.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, One thing about The Commuter is that it is entertaining. You will know the punches and twist but who doesn’t like Liam Neeson beating someone mercilessly with a guitar. One thing that bothered me was the use of score which I think was just the temp music thy kept till the end and if you listen closely you can hear the tune from Pirates of the Caribbean more often than not.

There is nothing extraordinary of original here, it is entertaining and fun if you are just looking for something to pass the time while you are drunk with cheetos on your side. The effects of this movie needed another touch for the final outcome.

Rating : 2/5

After Love |2016| ‘L’économie du couple’ Directed by Joachim Lafosse

 

 

After 15 years of marriage, Marie and Boris are getting a divorce. Until they reach a settlement and Boris finds a place to live, they have cohabit. And this strains the situation even more. Marie doesn’t love Boris anymore. The sight of him makes her angry, his small things she used to like are the things now irritate her the most. The relationship between Marie and Boris reflects quite close into a direction that has turned toxic.

Boris is broke, owes money to some people for which he also gets beaten up and Marie has to clean up his mess. They shout at each other, Marie is giving Boris more than he deserves in the settlement but Boris stands firm on asking half for his share of work. Boris’s argument lies to an monotonous tone. He always points out how Marie was brought up in a rich family and took the money her parents gave to her. But the point her lies is that Marie has worked her on her part, she has always took care of the financial woes of her family, the house and kids. Boris has struggled to life his weight, with broken promises to Marie the final straw drew and this is where they stand now.

Joachim Lafosse directs the feature intimately towards his characters and the individuality of them. He shows the two sides of the coin and what got this couple to come to this point after all they have spent 15 years together. Love might be thing that got them close together and start and family but you can’t live of love. There are responsibilities that go with i, then comes the factor of money and hard work who put in. It is not that Boris just sat there and Marie worked, he states to Marie that he has always worked hard in his life as he had to worry about his next meal everyday.

Bérénice Bejo as Marie and Cédric Kahn as Boris give such real performances. The whole story rests on their performance and they just knock it out of the park.

After Love is an intimate look at a relationship that has fallen out of love and took as they far they can. Their being in the room together itself makes everything fuse and leads to something of a rage that becomes a sadness for their own.

Rating : 4.5/5

The Childhood of a Leader |2015| Directed by Brady Corbet

Charles: The tragedy is not only that Pontius Pilate betrayed his self but that hundreds in the crowd before him did betray their selves. And that’s what I wrote was the tragedy of war. Not that one man has the courage to be evil but that so many have not the courage to be good.

It is terrifying to watch something like this, you are witnessing something in the past that shaped a future and had some dire consequences. Monsters are never born, they are made. The Childhood of a Leader goes back to the rise of fascism in post-WWI Europe. Prescott is a boy who has just moved to France with his authoritarian parents witnesses the creation of the Treaty of Versailles. The movie is divided in the boys Tantrum’s to the finale where we are filled in with the future it was leading into.

Directed by Brady Corbet, we see Prescott already developing an dominating stance. His ego is built over time. He has his fights with his mother, he doesn’t eat the food he doesn’t like even if it means he has to sit all night until he takes a bite. He is learning French with Ada who he develops a crush on but that is crushed when he sees Ada with his father talking. There is a scene before that where Prescott just focuses on the visible nipple from Ada’s dress and after we see him directly touching her breast. He says sorry after he has taught what he did to her. Prescott feels betrayed when her mother and father lie to him. He stays in his room for three days until he calls his mother and Ada to show what he has learnt on his own and next he orders Ada that her services are no more needed.

Prescott’s mother tries him to be with her religion and how she grew up but he goes away from it as he shouts standing on his chair that he doesn’t believe it in anymore.

The story bleaks into these tantrums that eventually show us the final result of it. It is how Prescott was raised, how he was shaped after the World War 1, he saw the world, the people and a truth he might have learned in the future that pushed him to that direction firmly. Brady Corbet, does an excellent job in his feature debut. He takes his inspiration from Haneke which is quite visible and mostly from The White Ribbon and Cache.

But at times it all feels more on the surface and you don’t really start to look back at all the events until the final chapter is revealed to us. Corbet wants to be different and more on the cinematic expressions of European Cinema. It is Scott Walker’s extraordinary score that makes this movie even more haunting. It is like you are sitting in the dark watching an even more dark story with a sound that pulses above your already beating heart.

Tom Sweet as Prescott does an excellent job in the character he has given which is complex in nature to play and show. he is supported by Bérénice Bejo as The Mother Liam Cunningham as The Father Stacy Martin as Ada and Robert Pattinson as Charles Marker. 

The Childhood of a Leader is a tale that goes the rise of an evil that was created. You see the signs in the childhood that grew him into something that you will never imagine.

Rating : 3.5/5

Quit Staring at My Plate |2017| ‘Ne gledaj mi u pijat’ Directed by Hana Jušić

Quit Staring at My Plate is an coming of age drama of Marijana who lives her family where she has to care for her careless mother and mentally disabled older brother after her father suffers a stroke who is a dominating and controlling man. Marijana becomes the sole breadwinner of the family. She is closed in her world as she has never rebelled against anything. She keeps to herself, even in the lab where she works as a technician she doesn’t really get along with her mates.

Directed by Hana Jusic, the story opens with the director showing us the life of this family. Marijana’s father treats her and her brother like they are still kids in school. He dominates everyone. Her mother is careless with everything, she spends much too much when it is not needed, even after her husband has a stroke she tells Marijana to do everything for him and doesn’t even help her. Her only job remains is for asking money and judge whatever Marijana does with her life. Marijana starts to become like her father when she becomes the sole provider for the family. She finds this new freedom like a breath of fresh air. She takes another job cleaning houses and starts to sleep with random men.

Marijana doesn’t really speak much and we are never really in her head. But you understand what her character does. But the problem for me was the ending, while it seemed hopeful at one point but soon it comes down crashing trying to become something more where it is not. Hana Jusic should have just left it ambiguous and it would have worked wonders as the audience would connected to it more.

Quit Staring at My Plate shows a claustrophobic environment of a family with a new found freedom for its lead, it takes rather a long time to come to its point but it does well until the finale where it washes it all down the drain.

Rating : 3/5

Eating Raoul |1982| Directed by Paul Bartel

Paul Bland is a wine dealer and Mary Bland is a nurse. They are both unsatisfied from their jobs, Paul gets fired after he orders a shipment of expensive wine and for not selling a brand of wine because he doesn’t like it. Both Mary and Paul dream of opening a restaurant but with barely enough money to get by, and despair that that they will ever realize their dream. Their plight is exacerbated by the fact that they live in an apartment building that is a regular site of swinger parties, which they despise.

When a drunk swinger wanders into their apartment and tries to rape Mary, Paul furiously kills him by hitting him on the head with a heavy frying pan. They take his money and put him in the trash incinerator. Later, they kill another swinger in a similar fashion, and realize that they could make money by killing “rich perverts”. They get advice on infiltrating the swinger community from one of the building’s orgy regulars, Doris the Dominatrix. Mary lures men by promising to satisfy their sexual fetishes, and when they try to have sex with her, the otherwise timid Paul becomes alarmed enough to kill them with the frying pan.

In order to protect themselves from any intruder, the couple call a locksmith named Raoul who after discovering one of the bodies the couple killed, Raoul makes a pact with them and they start to successfully  make money of it. But complications start to arise when Paul suspects of Raoul making extra money while Raoul starts to have an affair with Mary.

Eating Raoul is kind of a perfect look at the part of perverts and sexual harassers. With the recent expose from the world of Hollywood which opened many more doors where it was happening over the years, Eating Raoul stirs around these men by killing them while the story impacts on the humor of it where it just becomes batshit crazy where you really want these couple to exist.

Watching this movie now, shows the reality that must have been going back around then. There is a scene where Mary goes to ask for a loan and the manager starts to harass her and when she fight back he blames it on her and has her thrown out.

Eating Raoul is on of those movies that just makes you both angry and satisfied with the outcome of it. It is a black comedy that rests on the reality while making something from it.

Rating : 4/5

The Deer Hunter |1978| Directed by Michael Cimino

The Deer Hunter opens in the small working class town of Clairton, Pennsylvania, we are introduced to steel workers Mike Vronsky, Steven Pushkov, and Nick Chevotarevich, with the support of their friends and co-workers Stan and Peter “Axel” Axelrod and local bar owner and friend John Welsh, prepare for two rites of passage marriage and military service. The first hour of the movie spends its time going through the weeding, we see these guys happy and proud. Nick and Linda are in love while Mike suppresses his feeling for Linda. This part of the movie was really tiresome to watch as it was neither interesting nor really plausible to stretch for it that long. This whole sequence could have been finished within 30 minutes.

After the weeding scene, the group goes for Deer Hunting one last time before Nick, Mike and Steven leave for Vietnam. Mike tells to Nick that it is all about that one shot, you have to kill that deer in one shot. The movie switches into its second act of the story where we see Mike, Nick and Steven in the war ground. Everything is bloody and cruel to look at.

Mike is trying to keep it together and providing moral support to Steven who has broken down while Nick is still hanging as they are captured and brought in as POW’s. They are brought in to play Russian roulette and gamble on the outcome. Steven is set against Mike to play, but Steven breaks down and is punished and sent to into an underwater cage full of rats and dead bodies. Nick and Mike are put against each other, Mike raises the bar by asking three bullets in the gun. After a tense match, they kill their captors and escape.

Directed by Michael Cimino, after this nothing remains same for these three. Steven’s legs are broken, Nick goes AWOl with no memory of his friends while Mike keeps a low profile. Upon returning home, Mike skips his arrival party and arrives next day after everyone has gone and meets Linda. They both find comfort in each other but Mike is still haunted by his time in Vietnam. Mike tracks down Steven who is at a Army hospital scared to back home where his wife Angela is barely responsive. Upon meeting Steven, he realizes that Nick has been sending him money from Saigon.

Mike returns to Saigon to retrieve Nick but Nick has stripped to nothing but just a man limited to his power and the trauma he faced. This is a tale of individuals and how they happen to survive and go through such trauma and pressure. The Russian Roulette sequence becomes a symbol of that, a valid allegory. It stripped and drifted these three best friends. Then there is the part of blame and where to set it. most of the blame comes to the individual and it affects them mostly and dearly. It also becomes about their family too and how they go through all this.

Another thing that factors in and almost always is the problem in movies like these is that it is the one sided patriotic view. We now all know what really was Vietnam War and the cover ups that go.

The performances of De Niro, Walken, Streep, Savage, Dzundza and Cazale is what drives the movie to its edge of being what it is still now and considered being one of the greats. I mean I don’t even have to mention or say anything else about it.

The Deer Hunter is driven by its incredible cast who give everything to their characters. Except for the first hour of the movie, the second and third act are the center pieces of this tale. I was speechless when the movie ended and took some time to go over all of it.

Rating : 4/5