Finally watched The Boy in the Striped Pajamas after months of wanting. This movie was being aired at an independent theater, but I missed it then. AT&T U-Verse recording system came to my rescue.
You must be thinking: Oh, another movie dealing with WWII and Nazi Germany. Another movie that highlights the sufferings meted out against Jews. Another movie showing Hitler. At the risk of sounding cliched, the movie is a “different” take on WW-II. It tells the story of a Nazi family from the eyes of an eight year old whose father is stationed near one of the concentration camps. The boy, Bruno, thinks men in striped pajamas are farmers. He is upset over the way an old Jew who serves them food is treated by his father. He’s much surprised to learn that the vegetable tending man was actually a doctor by profession.
There’s so much of meaning to everything that happens in the movie: A kid’s conscience is so clear compared to that of an adult. How as parents, humans try to protect their kids from the harshness that surrounds us. Yet it is this unequal and filtered information that might sometimes harm the kids. A mother’s instinct is so strong. She realizes the danger that her children face. It’s hardly suitable for them to live only a couple of yards away from a concentration camp. And at the same time, the father thinks it is his duty to stand by his countrymen. The movie doesn’t delve much into the actual propaganda and atrocities surrounding the era. All of us very well know what happened. The father, who is referred to as a “brave soldier” by his son, learns a very important lesson in his life the hard way. The mom suffers.
So the crux of the movie is this: Bruno’s Jew friend who stays in a concentration camp comes to work at his place. He is busy cleaning silverware. Bruno offers him some food which the Jewish boy gladly accepts. One of the Nazi officers stationed in the house catches the two boys talking. He reprimands the Jew and asks Bruno if he knows the Jew. Bruno denies knowing the Jew. The Nazi officer takes the Jew boy away and punishes him. The Jew boy appears several scenes later with a purple eye. I thought he would have been dead. Anyway. Bruno is guilt ridden over the fact that he let his friend down. He wants to make up to him. See, it’s his clear conscience that brings his downfall. If Bruno were a 35 year old, he would have still been alive. The Jew boy tells Bruno that his father has been missing since the past couple of days. Bruno offers to help him find his dad. Both devise a plan to smuggle in Bruno into the concentration camp. Now you’ll wonder, why would Bruno agree to enter the forbidden area? This is where “unequal and filtered information” is to be blamed. A couple of days ago, Bruno sees a propaganda movie spearheaded by his dad that shows Jews living very comfortable lives beyond the bloodied fences. The documentary makes him believe the Jews have a cafe, play area and everyone is one, big happy family. When the time comes for him to join his Jew friend, he gladly agrees. In the mean time, Bruno’s mother learns what goes on in the concentration camp just a couple of yards away from her house: the smoke emanating out is that of Jews being burned alive. Visibly distressed, she convinces her husband that they need to move their kids somewhere else. Before she can do this, her son manages to escape and join his Jew friend on the other side of the fence. A search follows. However it’s too late and the boys have been gassed. The new gas chambers promise to be more efficient and were masterminded by Bruno’s father. Cruel way of learning an important lesson, huh?
The movie is based on a book with the same title, written by John Boyne. I haven’t read the book. My biggest regret is the authenticity lost because of the main language. I wish the movie were in German with English subtitles. The direction and acting were all up to the mark. I did wonder a couple of times how a pair of eight year olds managed to escape the eyes of Nazis while they sat facing each other across the fence, exchanging thoughts and chocolates.
I remember visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC last December. It was a humbling experience. I got to walk through real coaches that were used to transport Jews to concentration camps. I saw the actual bunk “beds” in which they slept. There were striped uniforms, mountains of real shoes, and other personal items of the deceased on display. This June, there was a shooting outside the Museum. Neo-Nazis still live on this Earth. Each one of us is a Nazi as long as we, as common people, don’t realize that everyone has a right to live.
A collection for 18 short movies, directed by 21 world class directors. Each movie is about 5-8 movies long. Making short movies is an art- having the ability to pack a punch in only a couple of minutes. So, Dev , if you are reading this post, please do take a note.
About nine short movies are par brilliance. About 5 are very good. About three to four are pure hogwash. Since the average duration is about 5-6 minutes, sitting through some BS is tolerable. I did take a break for a couple of minutes every now and then because the stories are quite intense and it’s too much to take at one go. The Wikipedia page of the movie has a couple of lines on each short movie. Some reviews around the internet say that it’s worth watching this collection because it gives you an opportunity to compare the direction style of one director versus another. Doing this is a very difficult task for me. Compartmentalizing the direction of great directors like The Coen Brothers, Alexander Payne, Alfonso Cuoron, Gus Van Sant etc. is not easy. Each story is so different. It’s not disappointing to not see familiar sights like the Eiffel Tower, various Parisian museums etc. in every segment. Instead, each piece is set in a different part of Paris and elucidates a different angle of love, suffering, joy and longing.
Some of my favorites:
“Tueleries” by The Coen Brothers- Story of an American tourist in a subway station in Paris and how staring at a young couple for a couple of seconds lands him in trouble. If you have five minutes, you can watch the movie for free on Youtube:
Loin du 16e by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas- A young woman sings a soulful lullaby to her baby early in the morning at the daycare. She goes to her employer’s house. The employer’s baby is crying and she sings the same lullaby again, sans feelings and emotions. This video has no subtitles. Even then, it should be easy to understand because the emotions are well executed through a simple lullaby. The movie hardly has any dialogues.
Place de Victoires- I’m a big fan of Juliette Binoche and Willem Dafoe. I didn’t care much for Nobuhiro Sawa’s director. Juliette Binoche stars as a young mother grieving the loss of her young son. Her acting makes this movie worth a watch.
Tour Eiffel- Brilliant acting by mime artists. And the boy with the oversized backpack is really cute. One of the few segments that is very light hearted and makes you smile.
Faubourg Saint-Deni- Natalie Portman’s contribution to this wonderful series. She stars as a young actor who falls in love with a blind guy. The boy talks about their love and how it turns sour eventually.
14e arrondissement- Best ending a series can ever have. Directed by Alexander Payne, an American tourist narrates her tale about her love for Paris and her recent visit to the City of Love. The American-French accent is so lovable. If you’re short on time, just watch this one segment because it’s totally worth it.
Maria Elena used to say that only unfulfilled love can be romantic
- Juan Antonio
Woody Allen almost makes me ashamed of wanting normalcy and stability in my life. He also seems to propound that sex equals love. As in, unless two people are having lots of sex, they can’t be in love. Maybe I’m getting it all wrong. I enjoyed the madness and the Spanish scenery. I enjoyed feeling inspired to love, to paint, to create music and to live like an artist. I wish I’d watched this movie sooner. Perhaps I would have done something about what I didn’t intentionally want to happen.
Oh, Penelope Cruz looked very pretty. But I’m not sure if she deserved the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. I think Scarlett Johansson did put up an equally impressive performance. I’ve seen Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall together in The Prestige and it was a pleasure seeing them again in this romantic comedy. Javier Bardem looks delicious.
I love being in the United States for many reasons. Opportunity to watch world class movies is one of them. A lot of movies make their way here, sooner or later. I had no idea that Okuribito has won so many awards when I read its impressive story line using Flixstr app on the screen of my iPhone. I told A, “Let’s go watch this Japanese movie that seems to have figured out what death is all about”. “A” turns to me and says, “Oh it has won several awards, including an Academy Award”.
The small theater was filled with a lot of old folks. My guess is…about 80%. Maybe more. I don’t think it is a co-incidence that people who perceive themselves to be closer to departure are the very ones who chose to watch this movie. Did I know who Yojiro Takita is? No. Did it matter to these people? Probably not.
The opening scene of the movie shows a young man, driving a car in between snow filled roads. Think about the first scene of the movie Fargo. The similarity ends there though. He talks about his orchestra that went bankrupt. He quits his job as a cellist and returns his 18 million yen worth of cello. Daigo and his wife Mika leave Tokyo and move back to this hometown, where his deceased mother has left him a modest house. Soon, he comes across an ad in the newspaper for a person who needs no experience to help with “departures”. Little does he know what he’s getting into. The job involves working with dead bodies, cleaning them and putting them in the casket. Making the dead ready for their funeral and for entry into the next life. It pays him well and he keeps his job description hidden from his wife. In fact, his first assignment involves posing as a corpse for a short video that his boss is making. The boss plans to use this video to train others. The rest of the movie deals with his coming to terms with the realities of death, the effect of his deathly job on his relationship with his wife and the impact that the various funeral procedures have on him.
Some of the main characters of the film: His boss- Who hires him on the spot because very few people want this “unreal”, taboo-ed job; his wife Mika- a great woman who never questions the husband, finds happiness in the saddest of situations (sounds cliched, yes) and most importantly, has the strength to remain married to a man with an unconventional job and somewhere down the line, to understand her husband’s dedication and professionalism towards a job he grows to love and respect; his dad who leaves his mom when he was only six, the old lady who takes great pride in running a public bath and the desk attendant from work.
There is this scene in the movie where he is standing by the river, staring at salmons swim. One of the salmons gets stuck behind a big boulder. Daigo thinks, “Why do these fishes travel all the way only to get stuck and killed?”. A old man who is passing by tells him, “Because they want to come back to their old home first”. Such profound philosophy. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this before. Maybe it has to do with growing up in Southeast Asia, but we do have this notion that a person always wants to die in his place of birth. So far, I haven’t come across this concept in the US.
Not every death scene in the movie is sad and depressing; each funeral has something new to contribute to the general story line. For example- Imagine cleaning the body of a beautiful woman and stumbling on a penis. Yes, a man-woman commits suicide. Daigo’s boss asks the deceased’s father if he would like his kid to be dressed as a man or a woman. Then there is this young woman who dies on the motorbike of her boyfriend. Daigo goes about his usual job of cleaning her dead body and applying make up on her face. The mom realizes how innocent and pretty her daughter looks while she sleeps. And how much of a pain her daughter’s real-life persona was. Another widower breaks down when he sees his dead wife for the last time. He’d never seen her look so beautiful. These snippets are important because they show the impact the dead have on the living. Daigo, the professional that he is, remains relatively untouched on a personal level.
All hell breaks lose when Mika finds the taped video of her husband posing as a corpse. Daigo refuses to leave the job that he’s grown to love. He likes the influence that he creates on others during their most intimate moments. It makes him feel important. Mika leaves him and returns to her native village.
The death scene of the lady who runs the bath is the second most beautiful scene in the movie. She was the one who had heard little Daigo cry longingly for his father behind the closed doors of a public bathroom. For Daigo, it’s a tremendous honor to send her on her final journey. For Mika, this is the funeral that brings her closer to her husband. She witnesses Daigo’s love for his job. And the old man who Daigo had met near the river makes a come back. He happens to be the dead lady’s lover during her final months. He also happens to be the man who’ll push the button that will cremate the dead lady’s body electronically. The dead lady’s son wails loudly as he watches through a small window his mother’s casket light up in the fire. He regrets all those hours that he spent fighting with her, asking her to close down the public bath and to sell the land to a real-estate agent who can build modern condos.
Daigo’s life comes a full circle when news reaches him of his father’s death. He’s determined not to pay homage to a man who never inquired about his well being, after he deserted Daigo 30 years back. The only material thing that ties him is a large stone that was gifted to him by his father. Daigo doesn’t even remember what his father looks like. So the man that he sees lying dead is a stranger to him. Until he finds his father clutching on to the stone that Daigo had given him. I don’t even want to try and express the mixed emotions that were flowing through my mind and the minds of many others seated next to me. Tears were freely flowing down people’s eyes when they saw Daigo shaving his dad’s old beard, trimming his hair, cleaning his body and putting on fresh clothes.
“A” tells me that he saw lots of men in the restroom splashing cold water on their faces, deep in thoughts staring into open space. I don’t even want to imagine what they were thinking about. Perhaps imagining their own death scene.
This movie, at a subconscious level, reminded me of a very personal experience- Me, as an eight year old, witnessing the old body of my dead grandmother being cleaned. There were men and women all around crying loudly. My grandmom’s sister held me on her lap and gently rocked me. I don’t exactly remember, but I think my mom and some other aunts dressed my grandmom in a bright red sari, applied make up and made her look like a new bride. There was a hired photographer who took pictures. I’ve never had to go back to those paper photographs. That’s one scene I can never forget. It traumatized me for months. And this film brought it all back.
This movie has some of the finest cello and piano pieces. Japanese Cherry Blossoms and fine emotions that’s missing in a lot of Hollywood movies. Please do take a look if you get a chance.
Trailer from Youtube:
Dev-D…What a movie. No, it’s not futuristic. Instead, this movie depicts modern day love stories. Behavior of people like you and me who fall in love. And then manage to screw up their lives in a unique way. I was mesmerized by Dilip Kumar’s Devdas and I had cried (yes cried) through Shah Rukh Khan’s Devdas. This one, however, steals the cake for me because Abhay Deol’s concept is my concept. I thought I was done with “sentu” (Sentu- short form for sentimentality) stuff. It’s my way of dealing with downturns in life- Drink,
dope and die.
What made me watch this movie? You really want to know? My coworker, emailed me .mp3 file of X-Rated Version of “Emosional Atyachaar”. I haven’t been able to sing this song ever since without silently muttering lines like “Hai poora ka poora mind fuck yaar…tera emotional atyachaar” (Translation- Your emotional torture completely fucks my mind). A piece of advice: Don’t listen to it if you are not well educated in Hindi gaaliyan. By the way, why is it okay for people to abuse in English and not okay for people to abuse in Hindi? A person is “cool” if he abuses in English. A person is a bloody gawaar and ghaati if he abuses in Hindi.
The movie sticks to the basic story line of Devdas- Devdas and Paro are childhood friends. Devdas is a rich and misbehaved kid who is sent away to London by his father (fondly called “Sattu”). Dev returns back to Chandigarh, India after what seems like almost a century. He romances with Paro amidst sarso ke kheth and lots of hoopla (Older brother is getting married). Devdas manages to lose Paro and land up in Chanda’s (Chandramookhi) haveli.
The story line actually has a lot of “twists”- Devdas’ sis-in-law is no bitch. Devdas’ dad, Sattu, is quite a decent man himself. And for a change, he doesn’t hate Paro. And Paro’s a Jatt who doesn’t shy away from abusing men or admitting her sexual fantasies. Dev, on the other hand, is the biggest Male Chauvinist Pig (Long form for MCP) of all.
Paro’s character is probably my favorite. I liked her because her role explores the characteristics that define a modern woman. A woman who is strong enough to explore her own life and to break away from societal stereotypes. She is from a typical middle class family. She’s well educated (college topper, of course) and yeah, sexually frustrated. Only in India women are not allowed to be sexually frustrated. She doesn’t shy away from sending her long distance boyfriend a nude picture of her upper body. In fact, she has more balls than any man- she clicks her pic using a film roll camera, gets it developed at a film camera store, manages to ignore store owner’s perverted looks, goes to a cyber cafe (yes, they are still called cyber cafes in India), scans the image herself after abusing the cyber cafe guy and emails it to Dev. After Dev returns to Chandigarh, she asks her admirer, a servant of the house, his room keys- “Dev is back!” The servant of the house, unfortunately, professes his love for her. He manages to convince Dev that Paro is a top quality slut. Paro doesn’t look back and gets married right off the bat to a Punjabi guy who is rich and the father of two kids.
I fail to understand how men trust others more than their women. He dumps Paro and drinks and dopes to death (well, almost). Dev’s “friend”, Chunni babu (dressed in a green shirt and red tie), takes him to Chanda, who is actually quite young. An eighteen year old girl who helps guys get off over the phone by seductively talking and moaning in Tamil, English, French and Hindi. Chanda’s character is quite interesting- She is the famous woman who was involved in Delhi’s MMS scandal. Her mom kind of disowns her and her dad kills himself. With nowhere to go, she lands in a modern day brothel. She wears jeans and a tee shirt, rides a cool bike and goes to college when she’s not being a commercial sex worker (CSW).
Dev and Chanda actually fall in love and live happily ever after.
The reason I really like this film is because it celebrates womanhood- you can choose to be either Paro or Chanda. The director, Anurag Kashyap, explores different angles of a common woman’s life. He shows how women are actually much stronger than men in many ways. Paro moves on pretty quick. Dev doesn’t. He, in fact, chooses to meet Paro’s sister-in-law (who has a thing for him) to get back at Paro. He spies on Paro using telescopes. He calls her at 11 pm at night. And in a fit of emotion, tells her that he still loves her. Paro brings him back to Earth and shows him the reality- that he’s had his chance. Very briefly, the movie also talks about the importance of having safe sex. How it is never embarrassing to get yourself tested frequently and to request for a condom.
People make mistakes and they move on. Each experience makes you into the person you are. Oh, and our lives never come to a complete stop for anyone. We can always pick up the pieces and create a new mosaic. What society construes as acceptable in one part of the world might not be acceptable in some other part of the world, but this doesn’t make your truth or experience any less significant than mine.
Abhay Deol, as Dev-D, gives an outstanding performance. I haven’t seen any of his movies. This is my first. I really hope this won’t be my last Abhay Deol movie! He’s so different compared to his cousins. I also hope to see more of Kalki and Mahi Gill. Both were spectacular.
Made in 1898, G.A. Smith’s ‘Santa Claus’ is a film of considerable technical ambition and accomplishment for its period. It uses pioneering visual effects in its depiction of a visit from St. Nicholas.
A former magic lanternist and hypnotist, Smith was one of the first British film-makers to make extensive use of special effects to create fantastical scenes. It comes as little surprise that Smith corresponded with the French pioneer Georges Méliès at about this time, as the two men shared a common goal in terms of creating an authentic cinema of illusion. (Michael Brooke)
Lallopallo tagged me for a movie meme a couple of days back. I started off by writing a blog post, only to realize that I am wasting my time. No, not wasting my time doing the meme, but wasting my time re-listing all movies that I’ve mentioned in the Cinema page of my blog. But thanks to this meme, I’ve made a couple of adjustments: I have removed the categories (Action, Drama, Foreign, Documentaries etc.). Categories restrict the art of movie making. At least that’s what I feel. A movie is so much more than just drama or action. Instead, I’ve re-arranged the movies that I like based on their first names (A, B, C, D…etc).
Lallo, I know you wanted me to add why I liked each movie. I’m sorry I haven’t done that because it’s difficult for me to sum it up in a couple of sentences. I have linked each movie to the IMDB page, which gives ample information (the movie outline, main characters, quotes etc.). In any case, IMDB does a better job that I will ever do. Some of these movies have been previously reviewed on my blog and I’ve inserted the links next to the names of the movies.
I’m not tagging anyone particularly. Anyone who wants to take up this meme is free to do so.
Absolutely loved this movie! The first part of Slumdog Millionaire was extremely good and actually has a very Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay kind of touch to it.At one point, I felt that by the end of the movie, I’ll probably walk out with a heavy heart. The second half of the movie is a little less intense…if you know what I mean. Overall, it’s a good watch for sure. Dev Patel plays the main protagonist and has done an amazing job.
Not sure if the movie will win an Oscar nomination or a win. But you never know! People are saying that it might win an Oscar. A.R. Rahman, the music composer has won a Golden Globe nomination. I love the OST of the movie, O Saya. In fact, I’ve listened to it more than 20 times in one evening. Yeah, I’m a bit of an extreme case. You can listen to the song on my tumblelog.
I watched this movie in an independent theater here and was pleasantly surprised to find the theater PACKED! There is this one scene in the movie where the main actor, as a child, falls into a pile of shit, and runs all the way to Amitabh Bachchan to get his autograph! The entire theater was roaring with laughter. I was no exception. The scene was very well crafted. Kind of silly, but it did the trick!
Anil Kapoor as the game show host is quite bearable. Nothing spectular, but good enough. Irrfan Khan was definitely a surprise element for me. I’m a huge fan of his and loved him in movies such as Maqbool and The Namesake.
Danny Boyle has made a phenomenal breakthrough by directing this movie Bollywood style. You won’t even know that the director is not Indian! I liked the fact that he showed the slums of Mumbai with an uplifting tone. Whenever Indian slums are shown in International movies, I always get the feeling that the movie makers are trying to cash in to India’s poverty. However, this movie is quite an exception.
I would like to think that this is the story of a boy who wins “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” because he’s lucky and because he knows how to differentiate between right and wrong. His circumstances are not stellar, but he knows how to get by his day to day life. And of course, were it not for the love of his life, he wouldn’t have done anything. The movie has a very strong undercurrent of love and loyalty. If I write more, I’ll give away parts of the plot. But you’ll know what I’m talking about once you watch the movie for yourself.
Within the first five minutes of the movie, Hindi slangs such as “Chutia” and “Madarchod” will make you feel completely at home. While Indians like me laughed out loud, Americans clearly missed the joke. Weird that not all Hindi dialogues (especially the slangs) had English translations…which brings me to this- I wish the director had let the dialogues remain in Hindi for most part. The 20-80 Hindi: English ratio didn’t go down very well with me and I’ll tell you why. First off, even I had trouble understanding the English accent used in some parts. Not sure if British/Americans etc. will understand. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t! Dubbing all the dialogues in Hindi (with English subtitles) would have given the movie an authentic feel. I didn’t like the way some of the dialogues were delivered. Dev Patel, however, was excellent with his Indian English pronunciation.
The movie has been released in the US with limited prints- it seems like the Producers were having trouble finding enough distributors.
It is a feel good movie towards the end. Not sure if this was a conscious decision made…but it seems to work this time.
I watched three great movies in the past week- The Prestige, The Silence of the Lambs and Changeling.
1. The Prestige- I like movies that deal with illusions, magic, wizardry etc. This movie stars Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Michael Cane primarily. Another masterpiece by Christopher Nolan. I don’t know how I managed to miss it the first time around. If you haven’t seen it, then you’re really missing something here! The movie is based on two magicians and how they become professional rivals- how one is naturally gifted (Christian Bale as Borden) and how the other one (Hugh Jackman as Robert Angier) will do anything to triumph and in the process, lose almost everything. It’s refreshing to see Christian Bale in a role other than that of Batman. He’s such a wonderful actor. Click here for the plot summary from Wikipedia.
2. The Silence of the Lambs- I wanted to watch this one since such a long long time. It was almost embarrassing! I managed to get the DVD from a local Walmart store. The story revolves around two serial killers and an FBI agent (Jodie Foster) who is a student in the FBI academy and it trying to complete her assignment of convicting one serial killer with the help of the other (Anthony Hopkins). The movie won lots of Academy Awards, including Best Actor (Hopkins), Best Actress (Foster), Best Director (Jonathan Demme) and Best Picture (Edward Saxon). It has also been rated as one of the Most Scariest Movies of All Times. Click here for the plot summary from Wikipedia.
3. Changeling- Clint Eastwood’s new flick and was released in the US on Oct 31st, 2008. I saw it in the theater today. Stars Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich among others. It’s based on the true story of one Christine Collins and her struggle to find her missing boy. The director, with great expertise, reveals the bureaucracy that was prevalent in the Los Angeles Police Department and the State Asylum. This movie had also created a lot of interest at the Cannes Festival this year. I’m not really a fan of Angelina Jolie, but she’s done a fabulous job in this movie. I remember seeing her in “A Mighty Heart” and almost cringing. I have a feeling that this movie will be nominated for lots of Oscars and will probably win some too. This is just the type of movie that the Academy Awards jury likes. The plot and the general atmosphere of the movie is extremely dark and depressing. So if you indulge in movie watching only for light entertainment, then I would advise you against watching this. The main plot of the story sticks to the real story almost everywhere, except for a couple of dates here and there. I don’t want to reveal the plot and spoil the fun. But please go watch it if you are a Clint Eastwood/Angelina Jolie fan. Click here for more details from Wikipedia.
I have no idea why Quantum of Solace is releasing only next week in the United States! I can’t wait to watch that and Milk- a movie that deals with Gay Rights…especially after Proposition 8 got passed in California.