Thursday, October 25, 2012

Renaissance - A graphic novel alive!!

Renaissance (2006) – English/French
Voiced by – Daniel Craig, Catherine McCormack, Ramola Garai, Jonathan Pryce, Ian Holm
Direction: Chirstian Volckman
Genre: Sci-fi, animation, crime thriller

Renaissance is a French/English rotoscopic animated black and white film directed by Christian Volckman and voiced by Daniel Craig, Ian Holm, Ramola Garai, and Jonathan Pryce. The plot is set in 2054 in Paris where everything and everyone are under surveillance. Everyone is heard and every action is seen with the use of high tech monitoring systems. The plot follows the abduction of Ilena (Ramola Garai), a talented and key genetic researcher of a big corporation Avalon. Police captain Barthélémy Karas (Daniel Craig) is assigned to the case. Karas is a reckless officer who has expertise in rescue operations, and finishes the task assigned to him at all cost. Karas’s attempt to solve the mystery leads him to various clues and directions which he really doesn’t want to lead but he has to. Other characters in the film are Bislena the sister of Ilena, Avalon's chief researcher Dr. Muller, Avalon's chairman Paul Dellenbach, an Arab mobster Farfella.

The visual imagery of futuristic Paris has skyscrapers double the height of what we have now. Holographic touch screen devices, powerful corporate organizations, advanced weapons are all become a part of the dystopian Paris. Unlike most of the animation films that mainly targets the children below 15 years, this is a sci-fi film noir, with murder mystery, violence, nudity, cops striving to solve the mystery behind those murders, wealthy manipulative organizations, advanced technology, etc. The radical and distinctive black and white look without any grey shades makes the film unique and marvelous. It is like giving life to graphic novels and comic books, a feel like comic characters are moving and fighting in front of you. A visual treat! A ‘wow’ while watching..!! 

Distinctive visual imagery of Renaissance
While certain motion captured films use the voice and faces/body of same actors (A Scanner Darkly), Renaissance has no face resemblance to any actor. So there is no need to talk about the performances. Only the voices have been rendered by familiar French and English actors. Although it is a strong story, the pace is slightly slow at certain places, giving a slightly bored feel to the viewers. But that doesn’t mean it has no action scenes. There are some really impressive car chases and fight sequences.

Renaissance is purely original. It was released a year after visually similar Sin City but not its rip-off, as the making lasted for a painful 7 years. Director Volckman has deviated from the standards of making normal, live actions with similar plots to which the outcome is original creativity. The movie as a whole is not too great, but technically it is excellent and admirable. For the director’s efforts and creativity, it is underrated and surely deserves more.

If you like sci-fi and detective genre films, and their combo, and imagine them as animated, Renaissance is for you!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A racy entertaining thriller after long time - Kahaani

Kahaani (2012)
Starring - Vidya Balan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Parambrata Chatterjee
Direction - Sujai Ghosh

After quite a long time, I got the feeling of watching a very good Indian thriller movie. At least for me this is the case, as I haven’t seen any film “made in India” as good as this one in recent years. When a husband sent away to work is missing for days, a wife dares to go to any extreme to find him, despite her pregnancy and health conditions. Kahaani is the story of one such wife.

Vidya Baghchi is a pregnant woman living in London with her husband Arnab. When Arnab, who came to Kolkata for an assignment didn’t contact her for days after the assignment was over, she herself arrives to Kolkata from London to find him. There she faces a number of obstacles during the investigative pursuit of her beloved husband. What makes the rest of the story is whether she accomplished what she came for. 

For a woman centered film, there is more responsibility on women actors usually and Vidya Balan does it with ease and perfection here. She did come up with yet another excellent performance, as a pregnant and naïve Vidya Bhagchi, without any support or any known person in a densely populated metro city, but well determined in purpose of her travel. She is the ‘one woman army’ of Kahaani, a center of attraction, fulfilling all the responsibilities. There is no wonder she is considered to be one of the very few well-talented actress. She seems to be turning into directors’ actress when the plot is fully woman-centered, as she has already done a few such films like Ishqiya, The Dirty Picture, and No one killed Jessica. I’d like to share a thing I once read in a magazine long back about Vidya. For the tamil film Run, its director rejected her during screen tests, as she was not beautiful enough to be a heroine. Thanks to him. Things turned out different after that!!!

Parambrata Chatterjee as a rookie cop Rana did an impressive job as the one who supports Vidya right from her arrival to Kolkata and throughout her pursuit. Nawazuddin Siddiqui as ruthless intelligence officer Khan gives liveliness to his role. The LIC agent cum hitman Bob Biswas role done by Saswata Chatterjee is interesting. There are other small characters who did what they are asked to without fail.

The director of the film is Sujai Ghosh, who has failed to make an impression with his previous ventures. But this time he succeeded in making attempt a fruitful one giving a firm place for himself. The story written by Advaita and co-written by Sujai is gripping and lively to the end. The extensive research performed and effort laid down, in order to bring an authentic Kolkata to screen is largely evident. As a native of Kolkata, it helped Sujai do this in a better way. Photography by Setu is another attribute to the success of the film. To achieve the reality, director Sujai filmed the scenes in the streets of Kolkata without the knowledge of people there, with a crew less in number and barely known. This aspect of filmmaking is called guerilla filmmaking. It includes the densely crowded Durja Pooja festival scene also. Background score by Clinton Cerejo is in par with the script.

There may be some flaws in the film, as is with every film. But Vidya’s mesmerizing performance as well as the edgy story is well enough to make you not think of that. Don’t miss this rare, racy entertaining thriller if you haven’t seen it yet.

My Rating: 8.6/10