Coup 53: Transmutes Intricacy into Intrigue

Originally appeared in Cinema Sentries.

The facet of documentary filmmaking that excites me most is the aftermath of the release. Documentaries affect the real world and real people; wider the subject matter, wider the impact. On this premise, I’m certain that Coup 53 will have a profound impact on an entire generation of Iran, offering a bit of closure to some, and furthers the existing material pertaining to the Iranian coup d’état, while also instigating a sense of treachery they’ve been subjected to 67 years ago.

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Most Wanted: A Middling Crime Drama with Identity Crisis

Orginially Published in Cinema Sentries.

Daniel Roby’s Most Wanted (also known as Target Number One) begins with Daniel Léger (Antoine Olivier Pilon) a troubled young man, receiving his first paycheque as a lumberjack. It’s a cheque, remember. Moments later, we see him talking over the phone with his mother, who is clearly suspicious of him when he asks her credit card number citing he doesn’t have money at the moment. Convinced that he’d use the credit card to buy drugs, his mother hangs upon him. With no money at his disposal, he takes off on his bike without paying i.e. robbing the store. These two scenes elucidate Léger’s only two character attributes – a troubled lonely man and a small-time crook – which persist through the film switching from one to the other. In the next scene, we meet Victor Malarek, a real-life journalist on whose investigation the screenplay is woven around, played by Josh Hartnett, spreading Brad Pitt vibes.

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Colour Me Brown: Tiny Film With Abundant Heart

Originally Appeared in Film Inquiry

I adored Colour Me Brown by Juggy Sohal for multiple reasons, with the major one being how simple yet powerful it is. While the film could be termed yet another YouTube video, the heart succors this in getting rid of the label. Speaking about one’s race and the associated complications of being different, the short is a personal, self-reflective, if not deep, a conversation between a UK-born Indian (voiced by Sohal) and his therapist (played by Parvinder Shergill). 

Minimalistic Nature

This tiny film is yet another proving instance of how cinema, the marriage of audio and visuals, remains the most potent story-telling medium. Minimalistic in nature, the script of the film, which heavily relies on voice narration could have been a heart-felt essay or a thread of tweets for that matter. But Sohal’s choice of going for an audio-visual medium to share the same story enhances the impact to a great extent. I don’t mean essays lack the power or heart, but the visual medium is more direct and allows the creator to precisely channel his vision, unlike words that hinge on the reader’s imagination. In a film, though, we see and hear what the filmmaker wants us to. 

COLOUR ME BROWN: Tiny Film With Abundant Heart
source: Juggy Sohal

Visuals Overs Words

Like in the film, when Sohal tells his therapist how he was called a black banana in school, for being the only brown-kid, we actually see a banana tainted in black falling on a road. Moments later, as he tells his self-confidence took a severe beating due to the remark, we see the banana being crushed by a car. It’s not subtle, but it hits the point home. Structured as a virtual therapy session, I found it smart to have a therapist listening to the narrator’s contemplation for two reasons. One, it adds a narrative layer to what could have been a straight-forward experience-sharing to the viewer. Two, it hints at the long-term consequences of such childhood memories. It’s surprising how much the film packs in less than three minutes, from accepting one’s own identity although most of them are only touched upon. If I have an issue with the film, that has to be the title animation, which kind of confines it to the Youtube video zone for the time being. 

COLOUR ME BROWN: Tiny Film With Abundant Heart
source: Juggy Sohal

Conclusion

Colour Me Brown archives what the creator set out to do: To share his personal story and map it on a broader scale. While it may not be path-breaking to the form, it will surely inspire many more people to tell their own stories through the audio-visual medium.

GATHER IN THE CORNER: Balances Storytelling and Commentary

Originally appeared in Film Inquiry.

Shot as a documentary, a convivial, middle-aged Bill Cooper (Jeff Zornes) gives us a tour of his standard American home in the opening scene of Gather in the Corner. He takes us through the living area where he claims to spend a lot of time watching TV, the dining area, and the kitchen, where he introduces ceramic chicken collection and mugs with designs of chicken imprinted on them. “I kinda like chickens,” he says.

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Lost Bullet: Too Relentless to Feel Humdrum

Originally appeared in Film Inquiry.

One seldom comes across a 90-minute film suffused with continual action, car chases, fistfights, gunshots, and every other action-genre troupe, and yet feel lethargic. The French-language Netflix original Lost Bullet pulls off this onerous task and even manages to put off our interest within the compact time frame despite fitting all the aforementioned facets. It’s probably because these facets feel forcedly appended rather than coming off as requisites to the script. They’re more of a garnish than the main ingredient, and it’s a film that relies on the garnish to embellish the final film while ignoring a very basic necessity: a coherent script. The action and the garnish do bolster to an extent, though, if not completely alleviate the issue caused by the absence of strong writing….continue reading here.

Athlete A: Moving Documentation of an Immense Tragedy and a Gargantuan Triumph

Originally appeared in Cinema Sentries.

The greatest achievement of any great documentary is that it can actually change lives. Indirectly, they can inspire and instigate a conversation about a particular subject matter, thereby holding the potential to alter viewer perceptions. In a direct sense, the best of the documentaries empower the humans whose story they are capturing on camera and give a voice to them. The Paradise Lost documentary trilogy by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky and the Peter Jackson-produced West of Memphis cumulatively played a vital role in cleansing the public image of three wrongfully convicted teenagers in 1993’s triple homicide case. The aforementioned documentaries, which strongly opposed the judicial judgment, can be attributed in a way to the early release of the three men.

Documentaries are life. They tell real stories and have consequences in the real world. On these lines, Athlete A, is bound to change the life of Maggie Nichols…continue reading here.

Babyteeth Movie Review: Melancholia and Merriment Go Hand-in-hand

Orginally appeared in Cinema Sentries

It’s been a while since I shed a tear while watching a movie. With Babyteeth, though, I shed more than a few tears, after a very long time, and the first time in a teen movie. Teen movies, as a genre, have become associated with cliches of late. There is no need to name them, throw a stone at the genre and it’s highly likely that you hit a cringe-ridden movie that either considers its concept the need of the hour or the plot has little gravity to hold the whole film. However, there have been fine films, over the years, with Lady Bird, Booksmart, and Call Me By Your Name, among othersforefronting the genre in recent years. When carefully observed, the aforementioned films are inclined towards coming-of-age and peel off cliches of teen movies. On these lines, Babyteeth, the new Australian Indie, is not just a progressive extension to the teenage troupe but is a landmark that could metamorphose into a leading light for filmmakers who wish to channel fervent emotions through young characters…continue reading here.

I’m No Longer Here: Heart Over Craft

Originally appeared on Film Inquiry

It takes time to latch on to the unhurried pace and breezy mood of I’m No Longer Here. It’s only after 30 minutes, we understand that the film is not in a hustle to throw characters into conflict. Instead, the screenplay allows us to grasp the beats of the culture, political landscape, and social standpoint of Monterrey, a Mexican city that plays a vital role in shaping character motivations. Akin to Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, nothing happens on the surface. The emotions that generally catalyze a drama are kept grounded and subtle. As a result, it’s strenuous at times, especially in the initial half, to fathom what will continue to propel the narrative in a nearly 2-hour film. It is only after a point, we gradually surmise the film’s inclination towards the free-flowing narrative and subdued drama, as opposed to loud story-telling choices which dramas are habituated to… Continue reader here.

7500: Largely Free of Turbulence

Originally appeared on Cinema Sentries

Unlike other movies based on flight-hijacking – Air Force OnePassenger 57Operation Thunderbolt, or say Non-stop – in which the rescue efforts comprise the majority of the narrative, here is a film that observes the tension from the viewpoint of pilot, who is usually the first one to die in such films. Moreover, like the protagonist of 7500, Tobias (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an American co-pilot on board the flight from Berlin to Paris, we see the proceedings outside the cockpit only through a TV. The story-telling choice, which confines us to the cockpit for 99.2% of the runtime, invigorates the film to a major extent, if not making it a thriller for ages…Continue reading here.

Mirador: Captures the Ethos of Camaraderie

Full review published in Cinema Sentries.

In Spanish, Mirador means “lookout.” The word has multiple connotations. Alertness, observation, prediction, or a person assigned to keep an eye on his surroundings. The last of the aforementioned undertones befit the documentary’s subject matter, that encircles three friends and the solidarity among them. The irony, though, is all of them are visually-impaired, meaning they can’t keep an eye on each other literally, but their support is persistently up for grabs, figuratively…continue reading here.