Friday, July 22, 2005

Phavourite Phoren Phlix

There is nothing quite like that feeling as you sit in the darkened theatre, surrounded by the hubub of pre-movie conversation, and the lights dim, the curtains rise (in India anyway), something flickers on the screen. For We Who Love The Movies, this is a moment of anticipation unlike any other, the laws of diminishing returns never apply, the nebulous thrill never quite loses its edge.

It never really matters what movie you're watching - it could be some ho-hum mega movie or a true masterpiece, that moment is always there to relish. It is like...umm...the almost-burnt crispy portion of tandoori chicken. The finished article may be of varying quality, but you have to admit that the crispy bit is delicious, every time. Anyway, it is a magical moment, and if you don't know it...well, not everyone is perfect.

Many a time have we sat in one cinema or the other, and eaten the crispy bits of tandoori chicken. Let us all join hands before it is too late and salvage this post from the clutches of Chicken, Tandoori. This post is not about TC. It is about movies. Phoren ones. Seeing a good movie is pleasure enough, if it happens to be in a language you don't understand, and it has subtitles (slurrrp...weird, neh?), it is that much more satisfying. And the list of favourite foreign flicks is (classified by language):
  • Spanish: Amores Perros (Love's A Bitch). A tale of three interrelated tales, set in Mexico City, with a certain gritty feel to it. Y tu mamá también (And Your Mother Also) was also enjoyable - about love, friendship, desire, growing up, death and so on.
  • Iranian: There are many stalwarts here apparently, Majid Majidi, the unbelievable Makhmalbaf family, Jafar Panahi, Abbas Kiarostami and others. Badkonake Sefid (The White Balloon) was unbelievably enjoyable, and very very poignant.
  • Chinese: Clear all-time favourite movie, watchable again and again and again is Chong qing sen lin (Chungking Express) by the very talented (lyrical, almost?) Wong Kar Wai. Set in Hong Kong, two love stories that keep running into each other, and into a fast food joint. See this one. Buy it. In The Mood For Love is also fantastic, lovely background music.
  • Russian: Remember seeing only one of these, that too an old, incredibly long (200 minutes!), sometimes monumentally dragging Andrey Rublyov by Tarkovsky. This biopic charts the life of an (apparently) great icon painter, through a period of Russian-Tartar strife. It contains some of the most impressive shots and cinematic techniques one can recollect. This movie makes the list, simply because of one outstanding scene, involving a bell. Briefly (and probably inaccurately), the Tsar's troops spare the life of only one child in the village because he knows the secret formula for mixing the metals to make the alloy used in some stupendous church bells that his father used to make. The Tsar commissions the bell, and under the supervision of the kid, hundreds of thousands of peasants toil (think of the Saruman-Isengard-factory scenes from "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy) to melt and shape the metal. All of this is pretty mundane stuff initially, but as the date for conducting the User Acceptance Testing of the bell comes closer, the audience is really set on the edge, the suspense is incredible, and the denouement comes with a palpable sense of joy and relief. Very rarely happens.
  • Japanese: This guy and his movies are very good (especially Madadayo), but the award goes to Tampopo. Really funny, and enjoyably weird, in the manner of the Japanese. Mix of Western (as in cowboy), the Food Network channel, erotica.
Of course, there are others. We have not even touched many areas of the world, but that will have to wait.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting & informative. Seems like a season of "lists" :). Carry on... we are here waiting for more.
-- Y!