Friday, July 27, 2012

Its amusing to know these Directors' Trademarks.

Have you ever noticed in Spielberg’s movies that there is a strong emphasis on father – son relationship? or a close up shot of the protagonist in Stanley Kubrick’s films? or a trunk shot in Tarantino's films. These are what called Director’s trademarks, which a same aspect can be repeatedly seen in movies directed by a particular director. I first noticed these things in Quentin Tarantino's movies in which a trunk shot appears without fail. Well. When you look close, you can note down more of these aspects. Let me post some more about these trademarks, mainly from three directors, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, and my most favorite Stanley Kubrick.

Quentin Tarantino:  

This American filmmaker is very famous for his powerful unconventional screenplay and distinctive style of filmmaking.
  • His movies are famous for trunk shots, which the scene is shot from inside the automobile trunk.
  • Mexican standoff (three or more characters pointing gun to each other at same time)
  • Usage of aliases for major characters in almost all of his movies. For instance, Black Mamba in Kill Bill, and The Jew Hunter in Inglorious Basterds.
  • Fictional brands like Red Apple cigarettes, Big Kahuna burgers
  • Featuring one or more scenes in a restaurant (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Inglorious Basterds, Kill Bill)
  • Often provides explanations of what audience will see in Chapter form, as in Inglourious Basterds and Pulp Fiction
  •  His films often will include one long, unbroken shot where a character is followed around somewhere. (Black Mamba intruding O-Ren’s place in Kill Bill)
  • Mostly the plot moves forward in non linear and retrospective style (I always wonder about Kill Bill screenplay!!!).
  • Often shows a female character with barefoot, or main characters discussing things related to bare foot. (Uma Thurman intro scenes in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, Rosario Dawson in Deathproof)

Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick was one of the most talented and greatest directors who worked for nearly 45 years in cine field. He is well known for great care in whatever subjects he chose, slow method of working but technically achieving perfection, the variety of genres he worked in. He maintained complete artistic control making movies according to his own notions and time constraints. Below are some of the recurring themes in his movies. 
  • Nearly all of his films contain a beginning voiceover, if not a narration at some point.
  • His films often tell about the dark side of human nature, characters often featured as emotionally distant and mellow.
  • In his movie he shows the protagonist’s emotional meltdown by a close up shot of the actor with his head slightly tilted down, but eyes looking the camera directly. This is upto me the most fascinating aspect, the signature shot of Kubrick, called the Kubrick Stare. For example, opening scene of Alex in A Clockwork Orange, one of the characters going mad in Full Metal Jacket, Tom Cruise’s paranoid thoughts inside taxi in Eyes Wide Shut. Even HAL-9000, the supercomputer has the glare in 2001: A space odyssey.
  • All of Kubrick's films, especially Dr. Strangelove, have elements of satire and black humor in them.
  • Almost all his movies feature a pivotal scene that takes place in a bathroom.
  • Almost all of his films involve a plan that goes horribly wrong. (Eyes Wide Shut, The Killing, Paths of Glory)
  • Uses the first person viewpoint (the character's perspective) at least once in each film, most notably the protagonist's suicide attempt in A Clockwork Orange.
  • One can see a tracking shot (the camera following a character) in almost every movie he directed.

Steven Spielberg:

Spielberg , one of the most popular and influential directors, is well known for his earlier sci-fi movies, huge box office grossing, and variety of genre, has, like Kubrick, a career span of more than 40 years. In fact, he is a long time friend and collaborator of Kubrick. His sci-fi film A.I’s script was initially developed by Kubrick and Spielberg from 70s till Kubrick’s death in 1999.
  • His movies depict father – son relationship, mostly troubled and estranged. Either the protagonists come from a family of divorced parent, absent or irresponsible father, or the protagonist himself is shown as single father, either divorced or widowed. I have seen around 7 or 8 movies directed by him, all of them have it. This is actually a reflection of Steven's childhood where his parent were divorced.
  • Usage of powerful flashlights in dark scenes as in Jurassic park, The Lost world, ET, Catch me if you can.
  • Music score by John Williams.
  • Often shows children in some form of danger, as in Minority Report, Tom Cruise’s son had been kidnapped. Also in Jurassic Park, Schindler's List.
  • Important images, or characters, are often seen through the rear-view mirror of a car (Duel, E.T, Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, A.I. Artificial Intelligence).
Looking for these kind of amusing aspects in my other favorite filmmakers too..

Sunday, July 22, 2012

சொர்ணரேகை - படித்ததில் மிகவும் பிடித்தது

என்னதான் கம்பியூட்டர், இன்டெர்நெட்னு பொழுது போக்கு சாதனங்கள் வந்தாலும், புத்தகம் படிக்கிற மாதிரி வரவே வராது. ஒரு வாரம் முன்னாடி என்னோட favorite சொர்ணரேகை நாவல திரும்பப் படிச்சேன். பிரபல தமிழ் எழுத்தாளர் இந்திரா சௌந்தரராஜன் எழுதின நாவல். 1999ல பிரசுரமானது. என்னடா இவன் 12 வருசத்துக்கு முன்னால வந்த கதையப் பத்தி இப்ப பேசிட்டு இருக்கானேன்னு நெனைக்கலாம். ஆனா, இப்ப படிக்கும்போதும், ஒவ்வொரு தடவையும் முதல்முறை படிச்சப்ப இருந்த த்ரில் மாறவே இல்ல. நான் முதல்முதலா படிச்ச திரில்லர் கதை இதுதான். அதனாலயே இது எனக்கு ரொம்பப் பிடிச்ச நாவல்ல ஒன்னாகிருச்சு. 

இந்திரா சாரப் பத்தி உடனே தெரியர மாதிரி சொல்லனும்னா, சன் டிவில வந்த மர்ம தேசம் தொடரோட கதை எழுதினவர். இந்தக் கதைகூட 'விடாது கருப்பு'க்கு அடுத்ததா மர்ம தேசம் - பார்ட் 3 ன்னு தொடர் நாடகமா வந்தது. 
இந்திராவோட‌ நாவல்கள்ல பெரும்பாலும், கூடுவிட்டுக் கூடுபாய்ரது, போன சென்மம், அடுத்த சென்மம், இந்தமாதிரி ஏதாச்சும் ஒரு விசயம் அடிப்படையா இருக்கும். அமானுஷ்யம் உண்மையா பொய்யான்னு ஒரு ஆராய்ச்சியோட இருக்கும்உண்மையோ பொய்யோ, படிக்கிறப்ப சுவாரசியத்துக் குறைவில்லாம இருக்கும். அந்த வகையில, சொர்ணரேகையோட கதைய‌ கைரேகை சோதிடத்தை மையமா வச்சி எழுதிருக்காரு இந்திரா சார். கதைல அங்கங்க டுவிஸ்டு வர்றதுனால மேலோட்டமா சொல்றேன். தூக்கு தண்டனைக் கைதி, கைரேகை சோதிட ஆராய்ச்சியாளர், க்ரைம் பிராஞ்ச் இன்ஸ்பெக்டர், டூரிங் தியேட்டர் ஆபரேட்டர் இவங்களுக்குள்ள நடக்குற சம்பவங்கள் தான் மொத்தக் கதையும். வளவளன்னு நெறய பக்கங்கள் எழுதாம, ரொம்பச் சின்னதாவும் இல்லாம, அதே நேரத்துல திரில்லுக்கும் குறைவில்லாம இருக்குறதால படிக்கிறப்ப போர் அடிக்க வாய்ப்புகள் ரொம்ப ரொம்பக் குறைவு.

த்ரில் நாவல் விரும்பி வாசிக்கிறவங்களுக்கு, இதுவும் கண்டிப்பாப் புடிக்கும். அப்டிங்கிறது என் கருத்து. நீங்களும் படிச்சிட்டு உங்க கருத்த சொல்லுங்க...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pixel - short film

நான் பொதுவா அதிகம் குறும்படங்கள் பாக்குறதில்ல. சில குறிப்பிட்ட நண்பர்கள் பாத்துட்டு நல்லாருக்குன்னு சொல்றத மட்டும் அப்பப்ப  பாக்குறதுதான். அந்தமாதிரி பாத்த ஒரு குறும்படம் Pixel

ஏலியன்ஸ்,இயந்திரங்கள் படையெடுப்பு, வானிலை மாற்றத்தோட பாதிப்பு இப்படி உலகம் அழியறத, குறிப்பா நியூயார்க் நகரத்த மட்டும் தனி அக்கரையோட அழிக்கிறத நெறய படங்கள்ல‌ பாத்துருப்போம். அதுங்க 2 மணிநேரம் ரூம்போட்டு தெணரத் தெணர அட்டாக் பண்றத, வெறும் ரெண்டே நிமிசத்துல வீடியோ கேம் கேரக்டர்ஸ் பலவிதமான நிறத்துல வந்து திறமையா செஞ்சி முடிக்கிது. தொட்டதெல்லாம் தங்கம்னு சின்னவயசுல கதை படிச்சிருக்கேன். அத மாதிரி, இங்க தொடுறதெல்லாம் கலர்கலரா சின்னச்சின்ன சதுரமா மாறுது. ஒரே வார்த்தையில் சுருக்கமா சொல்லணும்னா, சூப்பர். இதனை எழுதி இயக்கியிருப்பவர் ஃபிரான்ஸ் இயக்குனர் Patrick Jean.  

குறும்படத்தைக் காண கீழே உள்ள லிங்க் அல்லது வீடியோ இணைப்பினைக் க்ளிக் செய்யவும்.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Primer - low budget yet brilliantly made

What flashes through our mind when we are asked to name a few science fiction films are the films like Star Wars, Avatar, ect. Spaceships, laser guns, aliens and unimaginable creatures, well constructed laboratories with all advanced technologies and equipments fill the screen. Unlike the above, what we rarely have seen is the idea behind these things. Primer is one such film. It is a science fiction story with a complex plot which follows Abe and Aaron who work for a big corporation during daytime. They spend their evenings in building and selling electronic spare parts to fund their pet projects in a garage. When they attempt to build a machine, they accidentally invent a time machine. It strongly implies that the idea behind most of the famous scientific achievements used to be accidental and unexpected, like the discovery of time travel in the film, in places as simple as a basement or a garage the main characters use to work. 

I must admit that Primer is a very brilliantly made movie. The mastermind behind Primer is a debutant Shane Carruth, who has directed, written, produced, composed, and edited the movie. Apart from that he also acted in one of the main roles as Aaron. He deserves a pat on the back, and got it too, with awards at Sundance and some other film fests. Rest of the cast is his friends and family mostly. His experience as an engineer before taking up direction is visible all over the movie. In addition he learned physics to make the dialogues sound technically flawless. Initially while watching, I had a thought of why these guys spend lot of money in making a movie which is very hard to understand or even not at all. But a fascinating aspect about the movie is that it was made out of a very low budget of just 7000 USD. Also the crew he employed comprised only half a dozen members. 

It is one of the most confusing movies which simply leaves one baffled, not at the very end, even before one finishes watching it. A lot of questions arise like, what the hell has happened so far? Or what I have seen? Or what do these guys trying to tell? After second attempt, I was able to get it a little. May be one can master it after watching for few more times. I prefer not to further emphasize about what the film mainly deals with, as it may blow out one's experience when watching the movie. Though there is difficulty in following the film because of its complex plot and narration, it still is one of the best made movies, and a must watch one for movie enthusiasts and techie geeks. Lets get ready to time travel…!!!

A dozen best movies

Let me share with you some of the best made movies which I have come across in the recent years. When I say that I am going to list about the best movies, these are based only on what I consider the best. To make the listing shorter, only a dozen of such best movies are chosen. And of course there is no inclusion of regional movies (lets put a separate listing for them), and the listing isn't in any specific order.

Click the images to enlarge it.

1. Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (2001) – French
I just fell in love in with this movie because of its splendid and gorgeous cinematography in narrating an ordinary romance tale. Amélie is the story of an innocent and naïve girl from Paris who has her own sense of justice. She helps the people around her and finds her solace along the way. It is a kind of movie which creates its own sort of joyful and colorful universe. Audrey Tatou as Amélie is simply amazing.
Genre: Drama, Romance, Fantasy 

2. The English Patient (1996) – English
A mysterious, critically burnt patient who is known to others only as English patient is taken care of by a charming and isolated young war field nurse. Though he is reluctant to speak about his past, his world of love, fate, deceit and loss is shown in the form of flashbacks. To simply say about the movie, all the aspects of the movie are at the peak of excellence, be it the dreamy and romantic music, or the high class photography, or everlasting wonderful performances from Kristen Scott and Ralph Fiennes or the well handled script by director Anthony Minghella. It’s one of the very few films I get emotionally drawn into it.  Genre: Romance, Drama, War

3. The Godfather (1972) – English
I honestly say that this is one of the movies where you cannot find any flaw in after watching it for multiple times. The movie concentrates on the powerful New York based mafia Corleone Crime family headed by Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), how their business runs and transformation of head of the syndicate from his the ageing patriarch to his reluctant son Michael Corleone (Al Pacino).
Genre: Drama, gangster

4.Three Colors: Red (1994) – French

This is the third and final of the Three Colors trilogy by famous Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski. Red is about the story of a model who discovers her neighbour is keen on invading others' privacy. It focuses about the French revolutionary theme of fraternity, by showing characters whose lives gradually become closely interconnected. One can feel a loneliness, and mild melancholy prevailing in the film throughout, like the previous 2 movies in the trilogy.
Genre: mystery, romance, drama 

5. The Lives of Others (2007) – German

Set in East Berlin in 1984, a secret police agent is assigned to conduct surveillance on a famous author and his partner, an actress. Throughout the operation in listening to their conversations, he gets more and more absorbed by their lives. The screenplay is excellent with stunning performance by the lead actor. One of the best thrillers from German cinema.

Genre: Drama, thriller

6. Infernal affairs (2002) – Hongkong
A well stylish thriller movie with a gripping screenplay I have seen in recent years. Two rats, one in police precinct and the other inside the crime regime Traids, both working for the opposite, must find and expose the other in order to keep their own cover. The 2006 Hollywood gangster drama The Departed directed by Scorcese is a remake of this Asian masterpiece.
Genre: Crime, Thriller 

7. Eastern promises (2007) – English
A Russian teenager dies at childbirth and leads a clue to a British midwife (Naomi Watts) to interact with Russian Mafia Vory V Zakone. Directed by one of classical, unsung maverick David Cronenberg, Eastern Promises is more like a tale of morality, good and evil stuff rather than blood and gore exploitation, a terrific, gritty, tight and violent thriller set in dark London which will take your breath away. It left me with memories of some unforgettable characters, as well as perplexing thoughts about good and evil.  Viggo Mortensen as enigmatic driver and cleaner for the crime family gives one of his career best performances.
Genre: gangster, thriller

8. The Deer Hunter (1978) – English

This is one of the very few post-war films that show a sincere reverence for the lives of small town people. It is a movie about three Russian American friends working in steel mill in a small American town, and their service in Vietnam War. It is an in-depth portrayal of how War affects the people in small town. Already a hardcore De Niro fan, I just started watching it for his presence only, but ended up liking it more than anything. This along with The English Patient changed my perspective towards the slow going drama genre.
Genre: War, Drama.

9. Fight Club (1999) – English

The script was tight, the theme fascinating, the incredible acting from Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, the direction inspired, and the cinematography stunning, this is for sure one of the best and unique movies ever made. A discontented, insomniac white collar professional and who-cares type soap maker forms a relationship and starts Fight Club which ultimately leads to a violent revolution. I could talk for hours about Fight Club if I am asked to. It is a kind of brilliant film which both entertains and enlightens one.
Genre : Drama, thriller, satire

10. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – English

It is undoubtedly one of the best science fiction films made till date. It is primarily a technically advanced movie for its time, directed by Stanley Kubrick, one of the most talented filmmakers. The film explores the elements of human evolution and extraterrestrial life with spellbinding visuals and very minimal dialogues. It took some time for me to realize that it indeed was produced before 4 decades with such artistic excellence.
Genre: Sci-fi, drama

11. The Shawshank redemption (1994) - English

A simple and smooth-spoken depiction of friendship hope, hardships and redemption. A banker (Tim Robbins) is convicted for murdering his wife and is put into Shawshank State prison. He spent almost next 20 years of his there and befriends fellow prisoners and forms a strong bond with Red (Morgan Freeman). There was no need of any freaky special effects for the movie and thats what I call it simple. The dialogues are catchy and narrated through the man of magical voice, Morgan Freeman.
Genre: Drama 

12. Mulholland Drive (2001) – English

Followed by a car accident, a young amnesiac woman (Laura Harring) get stumbles into the apartment of an aspiring young actress (Naomi Watts). The two soon get close to each other and set to find out what has happened. The film also follows few parallel storylines which closely connects to the two women. Without any second thought I’d say this is one of the best surreal and psychological thrillers through which director David Lynch challenges the viewers in solving the puzzle and lets one drawing into own conclusion.
Genre: Mystery, psychological thriller

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Movie Trivia - I

Well.. other than watching movies, I am much interested in know the facts and information about a movie, its production, behind the screen, etc.. Here it is. Some of the such trivia of Hollywood movies, which I have come across.

In Stanley Kubrick's visually enchanting movie 2001 A Space Odyssey, aside from the film's music, no sound is heard in the space sequences. This is because technically in space, there is no sound.
One of the reasons why Francis Ford Coppola finally agreed to direct the film The Godfather was to settle his debt to Warner Brothers production house.

The total footage shot for 2001 – A space odyssey was some 200 times the final length of the film.

The Pussy Wagon which Uma Thurman drives in the movie Kill Bill is actually its director Quentin Tarantino's car. 
Uma Thurman with Q.T's car
For the movie Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola shot nearly 200 hours of footage, but the final run time was 153 minutes.

While filming Eastern Promises, one day after shooting, Viggo Mortensen, lead actor of the film, went to a pub without washing off his tattoos or even changing out of his costume. People in the pub became very frightened of him, assuming he was a real member of Vory v Zakone, the crime organization which is portrayed in the movie. 
Tattoos from Eastern Promises

The Dark Knight is the first Batman feature film that doesn't have the word "Batman" in its title.

Rose says "Jack" 80 times in Titanic, whereas Jack says “Rose” 50 times.   
In The Dark Knight, the Joker's distinctive tongue flip grew out of Heath Ledger's own habit of doing that.
Heath Ledger as The Joker
More to come.... Source : IMDB

Friday, July 6, 2012

Exploring Lynchian Dream - an explanation for Mulholland Dr.

Spoiler Alert: This post is full of spoilers!! Do not read further if you have not seen the movie yet.

Eerie visuals and music, violence, bizarre characterizations, multiple identities, dream imagery are some common elements one can often find in the movies directed by David Lynch. He is well known for movies which often mystify the audiences. This is the fascinating aspect of the director who succeeds in presenting a fairly simple plot in his own unique style of filmmaking. 

One of the best works of Lynch is Mulholland drive, a surrealistic, neo-noir psychological thriller about a failed actress. The movie stars Naomi Watts, Laura Harring and Justin Thoreaux in lead roles.

What is the plot about?
Click on the image to enlarge

Diane Selwyn, after winning a dance contest shifts to LA from Canada, aspiring to be a successful movie star one day.  Her aunt Ruth had died leaving her a sum of $50000. Later, she befriends actress Camilla Rhodes on the set of movie Sylvia North Story which she had a small role. There starts a steamy, sexual affair between the two. Diane gets deeply attached to Camilla, but not the latter, who wants to break her affair with Diane because of her newly found affair with director Adam Kesher. So she invites Diane to the party hosted by Adam where he announces his plan to marry Camilla. Enraged by this, Diane hires a hitman to kill her lover.

Afterwards, in her apartment, Diane before going to bed thinks of her past, and goes to deep sleep and starts dreaming, which we see for the first two hours in the movie. Upon waking up, she gets haunted by the images of Camilla, and there she hears the door knocking down by someone, probably the police. Out of guilt, and unwilling to get caught, she shoots herself to death.

Exploring Lynchian dream
What we see in the dream are just unfulfilled and unaccomplished things Diane wanted to achieve. In her own dream she enters a fantasy world to see things as how she wanted to be. 
  • Though she hired an assassin to kill Camilla, she wanted her not be murdered. So in the dream, Camilla escapes from the gunmen in the limo. Camilla is in fact Rita in the dream.
  • The dream counterpart Betty is seen as a happy, charming and well talented which is difficult for Diane.
  • She always wanted to be together with Camilla except that it didn’t happen. So in the dream, Betty and Rita spend their time together most of the time.

Click on the image to enlarge
Diane - Dream vs Real
  • The gunman hired to eliminate Camilla is seen in her dream as inefficient so that Diane hopes at least in her dream he does not carry out the job properly which she hired him for.
  • When she is talking to the assassin, she sees the waitress’ name to be Betty which becomes her name in dream
  • The $50000 she pays the assassin becomes the money in Rita’s purse.
  • Almost all good acting roles were given to Camilla leaving Diane nothing, which makes her to visualize that the roles given to her were because of some external force, say the mobsters. In reality, there are no mobsters.
  • Right from the beginning, Diane hates Kesher because she sees him as the reason for her breakup. So she wanted to give Adam a tough day, some sort of punishment in the form his wife’s affair with a pool boy.
  • Diane has never performed well in her career. So she incorporates that irrespective of Betty’s well performed audition, she is refused the role because of the conspiracies of mobsters.
  • Diane tells the assassin showing Camilla’s photo “This is the girl”, which becomes the words of mobsters insisting Adam to tell in the dream.
  • Adam’s mother becomes the old lady running Betty’s mansion. When Betty first meets her, she tells “Call me Coco as everyone does”, just like she tells when Diane is introduced at the party.
  • The cowboy who threatens Adam and the mob in the dream were guests at the party hosted by Adam. The limo which we see Rita is sitting inside is the same one in which Diane arrives to the party.
  • A red lampshade and an ashtray are shown placed at the table in the beginning, moments before Betty arrives to LA in her dream. The same is shown again when Camilla calls Diane for party.
  • The dead body that two girls saw in the dream is Diane’s guilt which will lead her to death, like seeing one’s own dead body in his/her apartment.

Click on the image to enlarge
Red Lampshade, Telephone and Ashtray shown in dream
Click on the image to enlarge
Red Lampshade shown in real when Diane answers Camilla's phone call
 In this way, Diane incorporated the events, persons and places into her fantasy.

Back to reality again…

How long one can dream? It has to end, right? It ends as soon as the duo returns from Club Silencio.

Like the man on stage repeatedly tells the audience that everything you see here is just an illusion, we are also revealed that nothing is real though it appears to be. What we have seen so far are just imaginations of Diane, the unsuccessful blonde.

The charming Betty disappeared just like that. Now Diane is all alone to face reality. She wakes up when her ex-roommate pays a visit to collect her remaining. When leaving she tells Diane that there were two detectives came by, looking for her. The remaining events of the movie are what mentioned already in the outline, shown as flashbacks. At last, Diane’s pathetic life ends when she shoots herself to death, to escape from haunting and horrifying past. 

Most people feel that the movie is a disturbing, haunting and messy that it is quite difficult to understand. But paying close attention and if necessary, a re-watch with reading explanations like this will make it clear. There are also many in-depth analyses available in the internet, and also the director’s own clues are available in DVD commentatory. I hope the above points are sufficient to untie Lynch’s knots.