Sunday, May 25, 2008

Entre Les Murs wins the Palme d' Or- Cannes 2008 Winners

Supriya Suri, Fr

France wins its first Palme d' or in 21 years, Laurent Cantet, documentary on the life of a French schoolteacher, based on the autobiographical novel by Francois Begaudeau won the coveted award, here's an update on the winners of the Cannes film festival 2008:



* Palme d'Or( Golden Palm)- Entre les murs (Between the walls) is a work of contemporary fiction by writer Francois Begaudea.


Grand Prix - Matteo Garrone - Gomorra

Prix d'interprétation féminine(Best Actress) - Sandra Corveloni(Line of Passage)

Prix d'interprétation masculine(Best Actor) - Benico
del toro (Che -Steven Soderbergh)

Prix de la mise en scène( Best Director) - Nuri Bilge Ceylan(Three Monkeys)

Prix du scénario (Best Screenplay)- Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne -Le Silence de Lorna


Prix du Jury - Paolo Sorrentino's( Il Divo)


Special Award: Catherine Deneuve, who stars in Un Certain Regard's "Je Veux Voir, Clint East Wood


* Palme d'Or du court métrage(Best Short Film)- Megatron by Marian Crisan

* Caméra d'Or- HUNGER (Steve McQueen)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cinephilia la India: A Decay of Cinema

The Moor's Last Sigh

Is there a living, breathing, thriving Cinephile community in India? I doubt, whether such a cine-love exist in close proximity of people who know each other. Often, I bump into people whose love for Cinema is simply to dive into the other line of spectrum, “ I have seen this films group”, and be a poseur of the purest kind(since watching such film for a broad group of people has nothing to do with love, but more to do with acceptance into an ' elitist' group, that again, Cinephilia and such film don't hold. True, Cinephilia, here in India is something extremely rare to see, a person who has the capacity to watch varieties of films, discuss, learn, and talk about them humbly and, opinionated, is rare. Since, often than not, most discussion of such kinds slides into flames and rants.

Susan Sontag wrote and important piece on the nature of Cinema and Cinephilia in general. And I think it's important that such a significant piece on the nature of our medium- which we so lovingly adore and enjoy, be shared(I'm sure most of us here are not well read about Cinema). Perhaps, in the coming weeks we should closely think and explore the ' Cinephile Community' here in India. What are our tastes? Where do we lack? How do we connect? Are some question which is important to ask. Since, Cinephilia, is not only about discussion, but the merit and understanding it provides through the discourse; and a common ground of taste that makes this group of people vital for the growth and survival of the medium. Moreover, the goal should be to build a critical school of thought, and not just another group of fan boys and poseurs.


As Indian Cinema needs a support (who love the medium- Cinephile), and not just another Shahrukh Khan and Karan Johar fan clubs. Since the importance of such fan clubs or critical look at filmmakers could only hold importance when compared on the overall merit of the 'Indian Film Industry,' since Cinema in India also exist beyond the boundaries and clutches of Bollywood.



THE DECAY OF CINEMA

It was at this specific moment in the 100-year history of cinema that going to the movies, thinking about movies, talking about movies became a passion among university students and other young people. You fell in love not just with actors but with cinema itself. Cinephilia had first become visible in the 1950's in France: its forum was the legendary film magazine Cahiers du Cinema (followed by similarly fervent magazines in Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Sweden, the United States and Canada). Its temples, as it spread throughout Europe and the Americas, were the many cinematheques and clubs specializing in films from the past and directors' retrospectives that sprang up. The 1960's and early 1970's was the feverish age of movie-going, with the full-time cinephile always hoping to find a seat as close as possible to the big screen, ideally the third row centre. "One can't live without Rossellini," declares a character in Bertolucci's Before the Revolution (1964) - and means it.

For some 15 years there were new masterpieces every month. How far away that era seems now. To be sure, there was always a conflict between cinema as an industry and cinema as an art, cinema as routine and cinema as experiment. But the conflict was not such as to make impossible the making of wonderful films, sometimes within and sometimes outside the mainstream cinema. Now the balance has tipped decisively in favor of cinema as an industry. The great cinema of the 1960's and 1970's has been thoroughly repudiated. Already in the 1970's Hollywood was plagiarizing and rendering banal the innovations in narrative method and in the editing of successful new European and ever-marginal independent American films. Then came the catastrophic rise in production costs in the 1980's, which secured the worldwide reimposition of industry standards of making and distributing films on a far more coercive, this time truly global scale. Soaring production costs meant that a film had to make a lot of money right away, in the first month of its release, if it was to be profitable at all - a trend that favoured the blockbuster over the low-budget film, although most blockbusters were flops and there were always a few "small" films that surprised everyone by their appeal. The theatrical release time of movies became shorter and shorter (like the shelf life of books in bookstores); many movies were designed to go directly into video. Movie theatres continued to close - many towns no longer even have one - as movies became, mainly, one of a variety of habit-forming home entertainments.

In this country, the lowering of expectations for quality and the inflation of expectations for profit have made it virtually impossible for artistically ambitious directors, like Francis Ford Coppola and Paul Schrader, to work at their best level. Abroad, the result can be seen in the melancholy fate of some of the greatest directors of the last decades. What place is there today for a maverick like Hans-Jurgen Syberberg, who has stopped making films altogether, or for the great Godard, who now makes films about the history of film, on video? Consider some other cases. The internationalizing of financing and therefore of casts were disastrous for Andrei Tarkovsky in the last two films of his stupendous (and tragically abbreviated) career. And how will Alexsandr Sokurov find the money to go on making his sublime films, under the rude conditions of Russian capitalism?

Predictably, the love of cinema has waned. People still like going to the movies, and some people still care about and expect something special, necessary from a film. And wonderful films are still being made: Mike Leigh's Naked, Gianni Amelio's Lamerica, Fred Kelemen's Fate. But you hardly find anymore, at least among the young, the distinctive cinephilic love of movies that is not simply love of but a certain taste in films (grounded in a vast appetite for seeing and reseeing as much as possible of cinema's glorious past). Cinephilia itself has come under attack, as something quaint, outmoded, snobbish. For cinephilia implies that films are unique, unrepeatable, magic experiences. Cinephilia tells us that the Hollywood remake of Godard's Breathless cannot be as good as the original. Cinephilia has no role in the era of hyperindustrial films. For cinephilia cannot help, by the very range of eclecticism of its passions, from sponsoring the idea of the film as, first of all, a poetic object; and cannot help from inciting those outside the movie industry, like painters and writers, to want to make films, too. It is precisely this notion that has been defeated.

If cinephilia is dead, then movies are dead too . . . no matter how many movies, even very good ones, go on being made. If cinema can be resurrected, it will only be through the birth of a new kind of cine-love."

(The Decay of Cinema - Susan Sontag (February 25, 1996 in The New York Times.)


Senses of Cinema: Permanent Ghost: Cinephilia in the Age of Internet and Video

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Crayon Physics- An Indie Delicacy

Shashank Kumar




There are action games which are mixed with heavy and intensive role playing; that makes you sit hours hooked to it; and there are strategy games which takes the bolts out of your head; and there are racing games fast , aggressive which make you foresee whats coming next, but there are very less games which defines a genre of their own and, still, come out as a winner in terms of both game playing and addiction.

Crayon physics is one masterpiece form the indie game designer 'Petri Purho' who actually managed to grab the Best Indie Game Award. Crayon Physics was designed in less than seven days. First of all, the game has nothing to do with your Physics scores, the name outlines the basic structure and framework of the gameplay- the principle on which the entire game is based.

The gameplay is as simple as A, B, C there is a ball and a star and the sole objective of the game is to make the ball touch the star but, hey, it ain't so easy( I said- simple, not easy) there are obstacles: see saw, ladders, blocs and infinite space between the two. But you have been given the power to create whatever you want ( though in fixed rectangular format ). You can create blocs to put on the ball so that it can move further, the game play is simple and the introduction is well laid out so that you can understand the basic controls and schemes of the game.

The use of secondary objects in the game's environment is brilliant, the ghost lullaby is very contented and mesmerizing making the game more intensive, the background is like my old maths book ( though my mathsbook never used to be so clean though..sob!) which helps you to create objects more precisely.

Crayon Physics is one game which will not take much time to complete, but its worth giving a shot and I'm sure you will be amazed by its simplicity and uniqueness.


Rating- Five Crayon Pieces

Download the game: Crayon Physics.



Crayon Physics is part of our ongoing coverage on Classic, Indie and obscure games.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

DHRUPAD- Poetry in Ragas

DHRUPAD(1983)
Mani Kaul

Mani Kaul belonged to an era when ‘Cinema in India’ was riding high on various stages of experimentation; in its inherent form and aesthetics; from features to Documentaries. From the likes of John Abraham, who was Mani Kaul’s junior in FTII down to the one of the last bastion of Indian Parallel Cinema movement, Govind Nihalani. The Indian Parallel Wave brought in a new language, dialect and grammar to Indian Cinema.

Mani Kaul along with Kumar Shahini were the harbinger of formalist influx between form and narrative. Both of them combined various degrees of Indian Classical Music in their mise-en-scene. Sadly, today hardly any films of these Masters are available in the market.

Dhrupad is a documentary on one of the oldest form of surviving Classical music in India. And here Mani Kaul combines his self-reflexive threads to weave a mesmerizing documentary on music. The Documentary captures the essence of ragas often sublimed with images and voice-overs describing the growth and history of the musical genre.

Scott Macdonald in his book, A Critical Cinema: Interviews with Independent Directors, talks to Mani Kaul regarding two of his films Uski Roti and Dhrupad.

Here is an excerpt from the Book:

In Dhrupad, I try to give a straightforward introduction to the music of two musicians you see in the film. It is music without a notation, in a sense it is not possible to notate the music: it’s too complex. There are continuously ascending and descending tones, and it is difficult to say if these tones follow this tones or that note. The tones are always traveling between dissonant areas between notes.


I was equally interested in Indian Music transmit the tradition of their music orally. A student can study this music for years and not write a sentence in a book. You can only learn music by continuously learning and practicing until you began to elaborate in your own way. The secret of the survival of the tradition of Indian Music is deeply linked with the opening the disposition of the disciple and the pupil.


Though this VHS upload lacks the image clarity, but the essence of watching this film is amazing, and every moment listening to the ragas accompanies by the pakhvaj and veena is mesmerizing something which we don' t get to see, witness or listen in our day-to-day lives.


From the Video:

Dhrupad is the oldest genre of Hindustani music and originally was sung in Hindu shrines, however it later emerged to the Mughal courts and then to the stage. This film investigates the oldest dhrupad tradition, the Dagarvani Dhrupad. The Dagar family traces back its origin not to the legendary MiaN Tansen, royal court musician of the Mughal emperor Akbar (1542-1605), but to his guru Swami Haridas, who was a brahmin, later Dagars converted to islam, according without difficulties their faith with hindu spirituality. This is a documentary on dagarvani, the most influential dhrupad tradition. It features the representants of the older generation like Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar and Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar. Contact me if you want me to put up more qawwali or hindustani classical recordings.
Igor Kovacs


WATCH THE VIDEO: DHRUPAD

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Crimsonland- Classic ' Indie' Shooter

Gravito " A" Shrut



Crimsonland is a pure stress buster, with no story and no plot whatsoever.You play as a lone renegade soldier going solo against hordes of Aliens, Zombies, Lizards and Spiders.

The game plays in a fluid 2D shoot-em-up scroller like fashion, showing sign of masterpiece Radiant Silvergun. Your basic aim is to shoot anything that moves. You control your character by standard ' Keyboard Control' and shoot by aiming using the mouse. The gameplay is fast, frantic and, keeps, you at the edge of you'r of the seats,especially in higher difficulty and that makes this game superb.


Features:-

There are a total of 25 weapons in the game which are more than enough to start a World War 3. The common Assault Rifles, Sub Machine guns, Rocket Launchers,IonCannons,Jackhammer,Plasma Shotguns and my favorite:- Gauss Shotgun.The trail of blood it leaves is simply perfect!!

Along with drop bonuses which assists you as you go trigger happy.There are many bonuses like Reflex Boast which slows down Time,Fire Bullets(a real havoc),Shields,Freeze. Beside you can combine bonuses to wreak ultimate destruction.For example: Combine Freeze With Shock or Jack Hammer with Fire Bullets and you will know the true meaning of killing.

There are four modes of gameplay in Crimsonland, first one is a 50 level Quest mode which gets tougher to insaner as you progress.Although it is mandatory to complete Quest mode as weapons and bonuses and perks are unlocked as you progress. Then there is Survival mode which i personally feel is the most addictive mode:

'As the name suggests you have to survive against monsters with the help of weapons and perks and bonuses.I spent hours trying to beat my own high score and reach the 1million mark( which is very very tough to achieve).There is also 'Rush mode' where you face rush of fast moving aliens armed only with 'Assault Rifle' without 'Bonuses and Perks', this is also real addictive considering you can get killed in 30seconds flat(my survival score stands at 46 seconds.)


Crimsonland is filled with gore and monsters, which can give any modern-day-fps run for its money. Monster detail is well done, but chances are that you will not notice the details due to the frantic gameplay. At the same time you don't need a beast of a machine to play this classic game.

The entire soundtrack is of Heavy Metal which again is soothing considering the gore this game has.The music randomly changes and all of them just pump up the adrenaline .The Sound effects of every gun is well done (you can feel as if you are in War) and every grunt, snarl is well done.

Crimsonland is one polished, stress busting, action game which deserves every gamers attention.Only few games can capture the fun and the addictiveness of Crimsonland.With a brilliant(and simple) gameplay,lots of weapons and bloods...this one promises what gamers always want- FUN and Immersion! And this game lives up to every bit of time you spend playing this. Do us a favor, download the game, and go all out shooting. Happy Hunting!

Rating-*****


Developer- 10tons Entertainment
Publisher- Reflexive Entertainment
Platform-Windows
Release date 2003
Genre(s) Top-down shooter, Run and Gun
Download:- http://www.crimsonland.com.

Crimsonland is part of our coverage on Classic Games.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

TASHAN: - A Pervert guide to a Bollywood Film.

( More intoxicating than sleeping pill)

1) Star and power + Yashraj= Immense success – False.


2) Once the tracking shot was a question of morale. Today, thanks to Jimmy Jib, our directors love moving in an out of shots without any purpose, every god-damn framing and composition are tried here- without understanding the basic nature of angle, shot, frame and composition.


3) Ever since the likes of Tarantino and Guy Ritchie decided to create the phenomenon of circular tracks; it has been misused to the max, and something similar can be seen in the film. Eventually leading to a severe headache.

4) How long can people in the Industry and Yashraj keep fooling us with their star power, money and repeated stories? There is no difference between our local vegetable seller and this people; after all, each time I go to the market, they scream on top of their lungs selling their products, something similar with our filmmaker when they proclaim:

“Our films have emotions, drama, song and dance and over-top stories, and this is what our audience love and we will keep feeding them till eternity”

Personal integrity and hardship are attached in both scenarios, but the sad fact is, ' Cinema and good films require more than catering to the demands of the audience'.

Something similar happened with Jodha Akbar, Mr Gowarikar spend five years researching the films, but in the end he proclaimed:

“I wanted to give the audience what they wanted: emotions, saas-bhau drama, etc”

So the million dollars question: "Why did the ‘fuck’ you research five years for a film, if you wanted to make another run-of-the-mill Bollywood film."

5) The amount of money spend in shooting a song, should have been distributed among worthwhile filmmakers, who could make 10 more films with that amount of money which was spend on shifting the location from Ladkah to Kerala in a single song sequence. Without purpose- Stale and redundant.

6) The director should not be blamed on any count for this film or a lot of films which are released under such big Production house banner. Since these ' Directors' don’t have the say in the final product of the film. Here it’s the Yashraj group which should work and shift focus in balancing between making good honest commercial films, and good honest films. And the blame for this film should go to Mr Aditya Chopra and his group.

7) The film had no head or tail, if the people behind it believed they were making some post-modern work- with homage to an era gone in filmmaking; I presume, they have to go back and watch those films, and also spend time understanding the meaning and definition of Post-Modern.



8) The film should have ended even before the interval. Since after that everything was just an exercise to complete the film. Sad Dry humor, bad pathetic monologue, extremely sad characterization, and overtly bad film.


9) The film was an exercise for Kareena Kapoor to show her new toned abs, and the Bo Derek was important bait in getting the audience.


10) A sad fact about all Bollywood compostion:-

1) The background does not exist in any given space.

2) All characters in a given space are shot and photographed in the foreground.

3) The usage of space within a setting is almost non-existent, as if, everything happens in one single dimension of a space- Foreground.

4) Tashan is a supreme example of such composition and photography.


Two very good things about this film:

1) The Opening Casting

2) The poster and trailers.


I’m sure I must have left out few more, “Great Points” from the films; do feel free to add them. Yeah, and for those, who loved the film, well, sir, monsieur, mademoiselle….



Luckily I saw this film for just Rs 30 in between a shoot; however, I still regret spending those 30 bucks. Someone at Yashraj please refund all our money. The reason I saw this film, irrespective of repetitive warning from all corners (Bollywood lover boys, Die Hard Cinephile, Bad film Reviewers and Hosts) was to understand, what not to do when I or anyone makes films. This film boost your ego, that no matter how bad as a filmmaker you will be, at least, you want make a crappy and a third class film as this.


Rating: Watch the film at your own risk.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Call of Duty: United Offensive- Revisitng the war.

"It pained my heart to see what man has made of man"-
William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth’s lines certainly highlight the fact how war has torn the world into walls and boundaries. Wars have caused immense destruction from the beginning of human civilization; but video game makers seem to love every small detail and nuances of untold wars, unsung heroes and a place that is full of rubble and shattered debris.

I am not in the position to judge whether these games should really recreate the pain and horror that war is in reality; after all, there are no heroes in war. Nevertheless, I had the privilege to revisit war from the perspective of Gray Matter. I sincerely loved my revisit to the war torn lands. The guys at Gray Matter make you cling for your life. Moreover, they make you realize that with each gunshot, you are one-step closer to death. As war is not a single man’s toil, this game teaches you to fight together and play as a team. United Offensive builds on the original game, in making the franchise a lot more realistic; with each blast, gunshot, bringing you closer to the reality of war. The polished graphics hold you captive in the realms of World War II. However, the game doesn’t change much from its predecessor. It sticks to the same old doctrine of providing gamers with a rich, intense and thrilling cinematic experience & it sure does succeed in achieving its goal. The game focuses on allowing the gamers to relive some of the most horrific and brutal battles fought during the Word War II. Gray Matter didn’t go out and break any traditions nor has it outdone Infinity Ward (Medal Of Honor) in the World War II spectacle.

You experience the horrors of war by playing any of these three characters: Corporal Scott Riley (American paratrooper), S.O.E James Doyle (British commando) and Pvt. Yuri Petrenko (Soviet infantryman). Each of the three characters has a unique set of missions and countries. Moreover, the platoon, which works with you, assist you in the fighting. The game is all about simulating the war conditions. It feels very realistic when Captain XYZ tells you to move in your butt in the heat of battle. It is in those precious seconds, in which your chances of survival are determined. As you battle your way out of a frantic firefight you pray that the next shoot doesn't result in a–"Restart". The Scripted AI is convincing for most part of the game; your teammates do form a tough horde of wolves. So there is always someone to protect your ass. Sometimes, few of them will rush into the enemy fire, shoot their hearts out, and then end up being killed (why did they do that, I really cannot understand). They could have supported the team, and formed a solid backup with the pack. The saying goes:" Fortune favors the brave". This game does have its share of a few invincible heroes; men-of-steel who push the story along. Therefore, do not be puzzled when one of your peers never seemed to slow-down- even with hell lot of bullet pumped in.

I loved the original and the expansion certainly lives up to its name. It is the graphics and sound effects and the sense of brotherhood, which immerses you into the soul of the person you playing the game. Even if you don't empathize with the character like other FPSs, the game does present you with a touching, moving, and soothing experience. After every mission, I stopped and looked around. The memory of war kept conjuring up in my gray cells; causing a drastic change in my surroundings. Where all I had left was blood, bodies, & prayers deafened by wailing women, rumbling tanks and rattling guns.

Rating-4/5

Publisher –Activision
Developer-Gray Matter
Platform-PC


Hope to revisit some more classic PC and console games and to write about them.