Friday, July 26, 2013

Djembefola (1991)

Djembefola (1991)
Director: Laurent Chevallier
Runtime: 65 min

Mamady is one of the best african percussionist in the world. This film from 1991 follows him as he goes back to the village where he grew up in Guinea for the first time after 26 years. It becomes a moving adventure as we witness Mamady getting back in touch with his people and his old master. It features some really amazing dance moments ; LOTS of emotions ; and great chanting/percussions of course.

At the begining we learn how Mamady, as a baby, cried so much that his father took him to a witch doctor. After predicting a great future in which the baby would grow up to overshadow everybody else in the village, the doctor washed the infant's hands in a rare herbal potion.

Mamady Keita became a prodigy who at 14 was one of five percussionists selected for membership in the National Djoliba Ballet. His instrument, the djembe, is a large drum that is made of goat's hide tautly stretched over yoroko wood and is beaten with the hands. Depending on which part of the instrument is touched, it yields three distinctive tones. Even now he marvels at how, after hours of playing, his hands never become stiff or blistered.

The straightforward, smoothly edited film follows Mamady from Brussels on a pilgrimage to his native village of Balandugu, Guinea. After flying from Brussels to Conakry, Guinea's capital, Mamady Keita and the film crew make the rest of the trip by jeep to the remote village. There, he has a tear-filled reunion with friends and relatives who had assumed he was dead.

"Djembefola" accomplishes a lot in its 65 minutes. In addition to sketching a vivid portrait of its subject, it clearly describes the basic qualities of the djembe. The film's several extended musical sequences suggest how the instrument's beats and tones become a complex emotional language that serves as a kind of communal heartbeat for the people of Balandugu.

Post Tenebras Lux (2012)

 Post Tenebras Lux (2012)
Director: Carlos Reygadas
Country: Mexico
Runtime: 115 min

POST TENEBRAS LUX (“light after darkness”), ostensibly the story of an upscale, urban family whose move to the Mexican countryside results in domestic crises and class friction, is a stunningly photographed, impressionistic psychological portrait of a family and their place within the sublime, unforgiving natural world. Reygadas conjures a host of unforgettable, ominous images: a haunting sequence at dusk as Reygadas’s real-life daughter wanders a muddy field and farm animals loudly circle and thunder and lightning threaten; a glowing-red demon gliding through the rooms of a home; a husband and wife visiting a swingers’ bathhouse with rooms named after famous philosophers. By turns entrancing and mystifying, POST TENEBRAS LUX palpably explores the primal conflicts of the human condition.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Shabdo (2013)

Shabdo (2013)
Director: Kaushik Ganguly
Country: India
Runtime: 100 min 

Tarak is a professional foley artist whose obsession with creating sound effects for films makes him oblivious to all the talking around him. As his family and friends struggle to cope up with his changing soundscape, Dr Swati tries to figure out the roots of his obsession and finally succeeds to identify. Yet, Tarak plunges deeper and deeper into the world of the unheard as his love for cinema is unplugged. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Almayer's Folly (2011)

Almayer's Folly (2011)
Director: Chantal Akerman
Country: Belgium
Runtime: 127 min

Chantal Akerman’s 2000 film The Captive was an ingenious reduction of the fifth volume of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. Almayer’s Folly, her second foray into literary adaptation, transplants Joseph Conrad’s 1895 debut novel, which concerns a Dutch trader living in Malaysia, to the 1950s.  Almayer (Stanislas Merhar) came to Southeast Asia long ago to seek his fortune. He married the adopted Malay daughter of the wealthy Captain Lingard in the hopes of winning an inheritance, but Lingard’s fortune gradually dwindled after a series of ill-advised journeys in search of hidden treasure. Now Almayer is resigned to a meagre existence, running a trading post where no one trades. Nina (Aurora Marion), his half-Malay daughter, is his sole source of hope and comfort. But Dain, the young man Almayer had enlisted to help him find the lost treasure his father-in-law fruitlessly sought, has eyes for Nina, and threatens to steal her away from this steamy backwater forever.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I'll Sing For You(2001)

I'll Sing For You(2001)
Director: Jacques Sarasin
Country: France
Runtime: 76 min

 In the early '60s, the West African nation of Mali was under French rule as its people struggled toward independence, and musician Boubacar Traoré became a star in his home country as its people dreamed of political freedom and better lives. Boasting a strong, blues-influenced voice and a hypnotic guitar style, Traoré -- better known as "Kar Kar" -- played music that showed the influence of the newer pop and rock sounds from Europe and the United States, and spoke of love and freedom in equal measure. However, at the height of his fame in Mali, Kar Kar disappeared; while he was a popular radio performer, he was unable to secure a record deal, and he was unable to support himself and his wife on his radio performance fees. Traoré became a tailor, and in time left Mali for self-imposed exile in Paris after the emotionally devastating death of his wife. Years later, a music producer who had heard recordings of Kar Kar's fabled radio performances offered him a chance to make an album, which led the artist back to Mali and the musical career he had abandoned. Je Chanterai Pour Toi is a documentary on Boubacar Traore's long road from fame to obscurity and back again, which features performances by both Traoré and fellow African guitar hero Ali Farka Toure.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Spring Breakers (2012)

Spring Breakers (2012)
Director:Harmony Korine
Runtime: 94 min

Brit, Candy, Cotty, and Faith have been best friends since grade school. They live together in a boring college dorm and are hungry for adventure. All they have to do is save enough money for spring break to get their shot at having some real fun. A serendipitous encounter with rapper "Alien" promises to provide the girls with all the thrill and excitement they could hope for. With the encouragement of their new friend, it soon becomes unclear how far the girls are willing to go to experience a spring break they will never forget.

It is actually quite artistic with great colors (lots of neon and saturated colors) and beautiful photography, and yet goes often against the classic movie making rules. Just watch the scene of the girls dancing with guns, wearing sweat pants, bikini tops, and neon pink ski masks. Why is it in there? Any normal movie would not have that kind of out of the blue scene, unrelated to the storyline. The way the story unravels without filling in a lot of blanks or multiple repeats people's statements (a common complaint in the IMDB reviews) is another reason why I don't believe it's part of what you call mainstream. In mainstream movies you follow the rules, you show something standard, a story which is easy to follow with enough drama, action, sex, and you try to avoid anything likely to alienate the viewer. And finally just take a look at the ratings, it's almost evenly spread out from 1 to 10, as if nobody could agree on what it deserves.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Cinema Komunisto (2010)

Cinema Komunisto (2010)
Director: Mila Turajlic
Country: Serbia
Runtime: 100 min

When history has a different script from the one in your films, who wouldn't invent a country to fool themselves? The collapsing sets of Tito's Hollywood of the East take us on a journey through the rise and fall of the illusion called Yugoslavia. Exploring the ruins of the forgotten film sets and talking to directors, producers, policemen and Tito's projectionist about the state run film studios and Tito's personal love for cinema and it's stars, 'Cinema Komunisto' uses film clips to go back to the film when 'His story' became the official history.