Thursday, 23 August 2007

August 23rd - Jan Svankmajer's "ALICE"


This time Alice waited patiently until it chose to speak again. In a minute or two the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth and yawned once or twice, and shook itself. Then it got down off the mushroom, and crawled away in the grass, merely remarking as it went, "One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter."

“One side of WHAT? The other side of WHAT?” thought Alice to herself.

“Of the mushroom,” said the Caterpillar, just as if she had asked it aloud; and in another moment it was out of sight.

A much loved tale from childhood, one best read unabridged when grown up; a story never satisfactorily adapted to celluloid or the like. Walt Disney’s effort (the 1951 version) is gallant, but discards a lot of the logic Lewis Carroll invested in the book. So too, for that matter, does Švankmajer’s version. It is certainly not a translation, as such, being more of an allusion to the original, and it frequently goes off on its own ‘trip’. The whimsical air is replaced here by a brooding feeling of unease, a feeling which, though it may bring our heroine down, nonetheless cannot hold her back in her determination.

About the Director: Jan Švankmajer (b. 1934) is an inventive Czech filmmaker and artist, best known for his animated work that frequently features stopmotion and ‘pixilation’. As a continuing adherent of his country’s Surrealist movement, he deals mostly with themes in a way that subverts conventional perception of reality. His films include the provocative FAUST (1994), and the shorts DIMENSIONS OF DIALOGUE (1982) and PICNIC WITH WEISSMANN(1968).

We wish to thank Jayakrishnan (GD) for the poster.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

August 21st - Miyazaki's "NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND"


Echoes of Frank Herbert's DUNE may be found here, together with pessimism about the future of modern society, and an abiding faith in the resilience of the human being. Adapting early portions from the director’s own "manga" (comic book) of the same name, this landmark animation film visualizes a future in which the Earth, ravished by her children, blankets herself in toxins – “the Seas of Decay”. Pitiful remnants of mighty civilisations struggle to hold on. The post-apocalypse is a great favourite in science fiction; to this crowded field Miyazaki brings a tale that more than holds its own, a tale full of life and complexity. Although not as technically proficient as his later work, it transfixes the viewer throughout.

About the director: Hayao Miyazaki (b. 1941) started out as a footsoldier, moving up the ladder as he honed his skills. His big break, LUPIN III: THE CASTLE OF CALISTRAGO (1979), put him in the orbital where he could make what he wanted to. He would go on to co-found Studio Ghibli (along with notables such as Isao Takahata) which would turn out such classics as MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO (1988) and SPIRITED AWAY (2001).

Our thanks to Jayakrishnan (GD) for the posters. :-)

Thursday, 16 August 2007

August 16th - Kundun Shah's "JAANE BHI DO YAARO"

Today we give you a film most relevant in the way that it touches on our lives. Sixty years down the line and some things are as yet unresolved, which is (in part) what makes this film so compelling a watch. Unsettling, isn’t it?

16th August 2007
6:15 p.m. at the Auditorium


Directed by Kundan Shah
Runtime: 2 hours 23 minutes

Two things that must be forming in people’s minds by now – first, that the Film Club has an inordinate fondness for Mumbai (the setting for three films now) and, second, that it has just as unexplainable a fondness for Naseeruddin Shah (once again within the semester). Well, folks, it just happened that way. We thought you all would like something light, so today’s story is just that. It is an excellent demonstration of the idea that comedy is merely horror served up differently, the horror in this case being the corruption to which ordinary people are exposed daily. We follow the adventures of two photographers as they try to earn a living, but are quickly sucked into a dangerous whirlpool of intrigue and murder involving some of the highest authorities in the city. The cast is perfect. Where else can you see an actor play a corpse so well that he almost outshines his colleagues, with all their histrionics?

About the director: Kundan Shah (b. 1947) is a notable filmmaker, mainstream yet innovative, especially with comedy. This film, his debut, is probably his high water mark, although he has subsequently made several first-rate pictures, including KABHI HAAN KABHI NAA (1993) and KYA KEHNA (2000), both featuring important early roles for their leads, Shahrukh Khan and Preity Zinta respectively.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

August 14th - Fritz Lang's "M"

One of the early talking pictures, the influence of this redoubtable work has been widespread. The director, despite this being his first attempt with sound, did not succumb to the then-usual tendency to have everyone talking nonstop. Instead, he played hide-and-seek, inventing several devices modern audiences now take for granted – and usually ignore; things such as off-screen music to indicate the presence of a character, to give one example. (Do read up on it.) All that aside, as a film, M is still as fresh and entertaining as it ever was. A proper thriller-comedy. With a murderer prowling the streets, and the police and the underworld falling over each other in an effort to nab him, the scene is set for high jinks and shenanigans of the sort we can all enjoy!

About the director: Fritz Lang (1890-1976) is one of the most well-known exponents of the German Expressionist style. His famous masterpiece, METROPOLIS (1927), remains a must-see for sci-fi buffs. It was soon followed by M. The restrictions imposed by the Nazi regime forced him to immigrate to the United States. His work there proved seminal in the formation of what we now call Film Noir, a distinct type of which there are many examples.

Trivia: Lang was the first choice to direct THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1920), but he was busy at the time.

Schedule for August '07

Hi everyone!

The month is well into its second week, and here comes the schedule for August. That a few important personages have recently passed away is the reason for the disruption of our set mandate (which, if you remember, was the crisscrossing movement across the cinematic timeline). That will resume, eventually. However, as outgoing office bearers, we feel what every politician at the end of his/her tenure feels...

So, chuck the mandate! Rip up the upholstery! These three weeks are our take on the whole pardons and tax cuts thing.


Screening schedule for August '07:

14th August, Tuesday, 6:15 p.m., Audi
M, dir: Fritz Lang

16th August, Thursday, 6:15 p.m., Audi
JAANE BHI DO YAARO, dir: Kundan Shah

21st August, Tuesday, 6:15 p.m., Audi
NAUSICAÄ, dir: Hayao Miyazaki

23rd August, Thursday, 6:15 p.m., Audi
ALICE, dir: Jan Švankmajer

28th August, Tuesday, 6:15 p.m., Audi
ANGOOR, dir: Sampooran Singh Gulzar

30th August, Thursday, 6:15 p.m., Audi
BICYCLE THIEVES, dir: Vittorio De Sica