Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Mirror (1997)

The story is rather thin, but the neat twists make this Iranian drama, of a feisty little girl trying to find her way home, interesting. The girl's journey begins when she exits school and discovers that her mother is not outside awaiting her. Worried, the child, garbed in traditional clothes and sporting a cast, calls home, but no one answers. Though she doesn't know her own address, she is pretty sure she can find her way and so boards what looks like the correct bus. During the journey she watches the people around her. When they finally arrive at the terminus, she realizes that she has gone the wrong way. A friendly driver puts matters to rights, but by this time the child has become petulant and it is at this time that the course of the film surprisingly transcends itself to become a film about making a film. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide
The Mirror (1997)
The film at that time loses much of its refinement in editing as the little girl basically walks off the set and continues her "journey" home including dropping off the microphone to the gentleman that had hired her and at which time the sound then is lost and there is some back and forth at her house where we only get the sound from the outside of the house.

Interesting film and the young girl made the film enjoyable. Back-dropped against the repressive regime of Iran, I have to wonder what will happen to this girl as she becomes an adult. This also is another perspective of the lives of women in Iran as compared to the other fine films to come out of Iran lately.

Barsaat (1949)

Raj Kapoor directs this meditation on love. Pran (Kapoor), a wealthy lad with a poetic soul, is passionately in love with impoverished country lass Reshma (Nargis). When she attempts to run away with Pran -- over the objections of her traditionalist father -- she slips and falls into a river, and apparently drowns. As Pran and his womanizing buddy Gopal (Premnath), who just cruelly dumped another girl, Neela (Nimmi), are driving through the country, they are more than a little surprised to see Reshma about to be married to a fisherman (K.N. Singh). Pran runs off the road and wrecks his car, halting the wedding, and eventually marries Reshma. Gopal is crushed and penitent when he learns that Neela committed suicide. ~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide
Barsaat (1949)
Yes, in the very Indian tradition of tragic love stories. Neela death was nearly gratuitous since most of the problems faced by the heroes had been overcome and that only this one last loose end was not tied to join the last couple together even as the potential groom was willing to give up everything for her. But it was expected at least one death had to occur and I so expected that it was going to end as Romeo and Juliet when one person had died or appeared to be dead and the remaining one was overcome by grief.

This one has the typical villains with the man that while saves Reshma he decides to make her his bride and holds her captive as a slave for his personal pleasures. The father also plays the part of the bad father that is willing to kill his daughter rather than let her marry the man of her choice.

Not sure why the rating at Blockbuster was so low at 2 stars but I think it deserved 3.5 stars.

Choker Bali

Chokher Bali (literally translated to "sand in the eye", figuratively to "constant irritant") (Bengali: চোখের বালি) is a Bengali film based on the novel Chokher Bali by Rabindranath Tagore. It was directed by Rituparno Ghosh in 2003 and stars Prasenjit as Mahendra, Aishwarya Rai as Binodini and Raima Sen as Ashalata. Ashalata and Binodini refer to each other as Chokher Bali. The other major characters are played by Lily Chakravarty (as Rajlakshmi, Mahendra's mother) and Tota Roy Chowdhury (as Behari, Rajlakshmi's adopted son). The film was later dubbed into Hindi and was released internationally under that language.

Chokher Bali (film) From Wikipedia
Some of the songs were still in Begali we presume since my wife could not understand the language of them. It does mention the language Bengali when the petition is stated in English under the time of British rule.

The strange thing for me was the character of Binodini which is played by Aishwarya Rai. She has played in numerous roles and is an overall good actor but in this part she hysterically laughs at times which seems inappropriate at best and tasteless in the social settings she was in. I am sure it was written like that but made her character look so narcissistic and petty which is not in the least her normal role. Other times she played the part of the contrite widow. Which the film also did not let us forget including bringing up the funeral pyre of widows and their second class status in society. Close to the end she gets some jewelry and tries to seduce the brother but he rejects her. I do not notice how the film rectified that she claimed she was penniless widow and then have the jewelry near the end of the movie.

For the above reasons I only gave this a rating of 2.5/5
But no one died as both me and my wife assumed would happen...
Choker Bali

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Very much in the genre of young superhero action figures with almost cartoonish stereotype heroes. There is one death which for Indian films is expected even if just for younger audiences. The strongest of the young guests is chiseled as much as Bruce Lee with many of the same moves used.
When the young guest of honor is kidnapped from a birthday party, five courageous kids risk everything to rescue their friend. Along the way, they learn that the kidnapper, Balbir Gupta, is an old partner of the abducted child's father, recently released from prison and looking to settle a score. Directed by S.V. Rajendra Singh, this action adventure stars Amrish Puri, Sundar Krishna Urs, M.B. Shetty, Jayanthi and Manjula.
Starring: Jayanthi, Manjula
Director: S.V. Rajendra Singh
Genre: Foreign
Format: Full Screen ...
Language: Hindi
Subtitles: English

Aaj Ke Sholey (1985)
It ends on a near comical fight out with the evil Gupta and his many henchmen and some film actors along with the young children.

Overall an enjoyable film even if slightly juvenile.

No information at Blockbuser: Aaj-Ke-Sholey.

Salaam Namaste (2005)

A couple navigates the ups and downs of romance and imminent parenthood while setting up house in a new land in this Bollywood romantic comedy. Nikhil Arora (Saif Ali Khan), known to most of his friends as Nick, is a successful chef who has become something of a celebrity, with a following in Australia. Nick agrees to appear on a radio show hosted by Ambar Malhotra (Preity Zinta), an attractive woman who is finishing up her college degree, but working out the arrangements proves difficult, and by the time they meet face to face, Nick and Ambar have already exchanged a number of harsh words. When the two actually walk into the studio together, they feel a strong mutual attraction, but given their history, neither is sure if they should trust their feelings. After several dates, Nick makes a proposal -- he is going to Melbourne for a year, and if Ambar wants to join him, they can see if they could get along living under the same roof. Ambar agrees, but before long she has some surprising news for Nick -- she's pregnant with his baby, a prospect that does not make him happy. As the two face the reality of their situation as parents-to-be, Nick wonders if he's ready to give up the bachelor's life he's long enjoyed, and Ambar struggles to adjust to life down under. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Salaam Namaste (2005)
Definitely a nice romantic comedy worth watching. There is quite a community of Indians in Melbourne as the film shows including one character that has a white woman as his girlfriend. The funny thing about his character is that he speaks Hindi with an Australian accent.

Nick also has issues with his Indian name and thus partially his heritage at least according to Ambar. Ambar's pregnancy also brings up the abortion issue as Nick wants an abortion immediately while Ambar is not willing to compromise her morality. Again well worth watching it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Leaves from Satan's Book (1919)

A well directed and wrote silent film trying to show the atrocities caused by Satan but have to wonder about the inclusion of the French Revolution. I know that this "Glorious Revolution" caused many deaths and is still held in high regards from the Left, but I do wonder about their inclusion in this film.

It was also unusual that Satan had bouts of remorse and that it was God that directed him to go out and create evil. Especially the scene where Satan feels guilty for his part in killing the Son of God. But God just sends him out to cause more pain to humans. He is even given an incentive with 1000 years less of torture for every man he helps and 100 years more for every man he destroys.
The Danish Leaves From Satan's Book (Blad af Satans Bog) was the "breakthrough" picture for filmmaker Carl Thedor Dreyer, who was elevated from a local talent to a director of international renown. The content of the film is implicit in the title: we are witness to the power of Evil through the ages, linked together by images of turning pages. In its multi-storied construction, the film is obviously beholden to D.W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916). Some of the vignettes, especially the Spanish Inquisition scenes, are both beautiful and repulsive; we marvel at Dreyer's brilliant visual sense, even as we have the impulse to avert our eyes. Though a worldwide success, Leaves From Satan's Book cost too much to suit the tastes of the parsimonious Danish film industry, compelling Dreyer to work in other countries throughout most of the silent era. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 121 mins
Leaves from Satan's Book (1919)