May 25, 2015

68th Cannes Film Festival Awards - Dheepan wins Palme d'Or

The 2015 Cannes Film Festival ended with a closing awards ceremony a while ago. The jury headed by Joel and Ethan Coen awarded the prestigious Palme d'Or to Jacques Audiard's DHEEPAN. A film that nobody, even non-attendees like me expected to win because of the critical response it generated. This French immigrant drama with a Sri Lankan Tamil family at the center, didn't have the buzz going for it. Reviews expressed problems with the ending and calling it least favorite of Audiard's films that have been presented before at Cannes. On the other hand, the Hungarian Holocaust thriller SON OF SAUL won the Grand Prix which is a second place best film award. Some predicted it for the Palme, as did I. The film also won a few independent awards last night. An audacious debut per critics with great acclaim. And the final film to win one of the three best film prizes was Yorgos Lanthimos's crazy-weird English-language outing, THE LOBSTER which won the Jury Prize. The film received all kinds of reviews, mostly positive and expressed great feelings for the basic idea and narration of the film. People like I, predicted it for screenplay, which went to Michel Franco's CHRONIC. Another surprise. That was one of the last films to be shown at the festival and was predicted to win best actor for Tim Roth but that didn't happen. The best director award went to Hou Hsiao-hsien for his immaculately shot wuxia stunner, THE ASSASSIN. Note that I am quoting critics in describing these films. HHH is a cinephile favorite, who, per the majority should have been given the Palme.

May 15, 2015

Review: FALLEN ANGELS (1995)

           Leon Lai, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Michelle Reis, Charlie Yeung & Karen Mok

                   Wong Kar-wai

Apr 16, 2015

68th Cannes Film Festival Lineup Revealed

The lineup for 2015 Cannes Film Festival which will kick off on May 13th has been announced earlier today in a press conference. The competition jury (yet to be revealed) is headed by the Coen brothers of course. The festival will open with "La Tete Haute" by Emmanuelle Bercot (playing out of competition), revealed three days ago. This would be the second female-directed film to open the festival since... the 80's!

Several of the titles in competiton were expected to make it with a few curiously missing out. They usually continue to add more films as the festival nears, its like a Cannes tradition so at least three more may be included in the main slate. Jacques Audiard's new film along with Todd Haynes (Carol), Hou Hsiao Hsien (The Assassin), Joachim Trier (Louder than Bombs) and Paolo Sorrentino (Youth) will be vying for the Palme d'Or. Some other regular filmmakers are included as well, like Hirokazu Kore-eda, Nanni Moretti, Matteo Garrone and Jia Zhang-ke. A great lineup from what I can well, presume. Cannot wait for the Cannes madness to start.

Other than the main selection, there are films like George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road, Woody Allen's Irrational Man and Pixar's Inside Out playing out of competition.

Below is the full list:

Mar 10, 2015

Best of 2014 - My Awards

I am back with my "Best of 2014" awards post to acknowledge excellence of the films in various categories. I had posted my top 20 list here. Note that the nominees are all ranked.

Best Film:

1. Boyhood *WINNER*
2. Under the Skin
3. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
4. Two Days, One Night
5. Whiplash
6. Birdman
7. Foxcatcher
8. Olive Kitteridge
9. The Immigrant
10. Leviathan

Mar 8, 2015

Best of 2014 - My Top 20

Another film-year came to an end. 2014 was very good for films, every year is in its own way. Sure it didn't reach the heights of 2013 but it sure had enough surprises and significant works to say that it wasn't a complete waste. Richard Linklater's Boyhood was met with the kind of response no film in my lifetime has ever received and I am all for it. Birdman won the Academy Award, Cannes gave their best film to Turkish master Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Winter Sleep. The mostly sung films came out earlier the year. As usual, many of the films we were all dying to watch came out in that precious slot between the end of fall festivals and the beginning of new year because awards season counts more. It's all business my friends. From American Sniper controversy (lol what controversy?) to Selma's inevitable glory, from films about aliens to one about a psychopath, different topics and themes were tackled. Films about a boy's coming of age struggles, a woman's journey to save her job, a woman's journey to find out what it's really like to be a woman... to a woman battling the darkest of emotions.... people trying to survive a country, a particular time in a country, a particular mindset in a country.... many of the films this year were about human beings trying to survive the various struggles of life. The theme of this year was life in all its forms. This was also a year where we saw some truly unorthodox but refreshing 'biopics'... and of course some typically bland ones. Interesting experimentation in storytelling, be it a 12 year-long production or life-long portrayal of a women's sexual journey... comedies, tragedies, horror, action, science fiction, fiction-celebrated-as-truth, truth-slammed-as-fiction... oh what a year.

Feb 24, 2015

87th Academy Awards: Flat NPH, Great Speeches & Awful Jokes

Lets get this obligatory Oscars telecast review out of the way so that I and every one of you can move on with your lives and peacefully witness another year of great films that Academy wont award. So the basic thing I got away from the Oscars was that as usual, it was too long. It is always long but it felt much longer thanks to the writers who failed NPH. You see now I understand how such awesome, funny and exuberant hosts fall flat when they host the Oscars. It's the writers and their painfully unfunny and tired gags. When at one side of the stage you have these wonderful speeches, highlighting their personal journeys with their respective films and the great causes so close to their hearts.... on the other side, a horrible joke awaits. Two different ceremonies were going on and the one without NPH was the one I loved. We all spend like 70% of the year talking about the Oscars, predicting and scratching our heads. Then hoping the Academy wont embarrass themselves and award great works of art and cinema. Finally when the time comes, people are first too fixated on the red carpet, then distracted by the awful jokes and repetitive gags and then uninspiring 'wins' that people wont remember in a few years leaves a bad taste in mouth. I just had like 4 hours of sleep, maybe less and have been awake ever since. Tried to take a short nap in the evening but found myself thinking about Boyhood a lot. The images from the movie were playing in my head so I got up, took a shower and went out. At this moment, I have enough energy to write this quite lackluster post and be done with it.

So if I can just do a small glance over before I rank or rate things in categories... there were some really great musical performances. One specially that we thought wont work, did and it did and it brought me to tears. Wait! I am not talking about "Glory"... that actually made me want to stand up and sing along. The winners of course individually, great but overall, some weren't very pleasing choices. The speeches, now those were the best things about the wins. Such highlight moments.  There was this trend where winners were shining lights on issues and causes. There were some very awkward moments as well of course. The ceremony felt long, one gag in particular has to be the most boring in a decade or so.

Best Speeches

1. Graham Moore - Best Adapted Screenplay (The Imitation Game)

I tweeted too soon, a snark. Then upon a re-watch, this felt like the most genuine, human and profound speech of all. Moore was excited and cute at first thanking Oprah. Then he revealed something deeply personal about his past and spoke so greatly addressing others and encouraging them to be exactly who they are and spreading that sense of individual pride. "Stay weird, stay different".

Feb 23, 2015

87th Academy Awards: Talking Winners and Losers

First, lets see how I did predicting the Oscars:

Best Picture:
(Winner) Birdman
(Predicted Winner) Boyhood

Best Director:
(Winner) Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman
(Predicted Winner) Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Academy Awards 2015 Winners

I will share my thoughts in detail tonight or maybe tomorrow but here is the list of winners for now.... Birdman won yeah... actors had to award 'their' film.

Best Picture: