Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wrapping it Up: June

It has been quite an eventful month. I completed a year of blogging U, Me and Films this month. Once again, I will say Thank You to everyone who commented on the post that day, or tweeted me or re-tweeted me. It really was overwhelming and definitely is one of the reasons that has helped me keep writing. I also put up '1001 Movies' page this month, as I promised few months ago. If anyone is interested, you can see it on the top bar. However, let us get right into what did I see over month of June.


The Double Life of Veronique(1991): I am not really sure if it is Kieslowski or Irene Jacob but there is something transcendental about Jacob's face, about expressions on her face that keeps me staring at her face ardently. Kudos to Kieslowski to bring it on screen as a complete package with gripping story and palpable emotions. It surely was a great start of month.

Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar(1991)(Re-Watch):This has a lot of nostalgic value. One of the movies that I loved as a kid, even before all this movie geekery started. It hasn't aged too well and feels too formulaic now but sometimes you have to listen to your heart and not your brain. 

Modern Times(1936)(Re-Watch): I was almost sure that I have seen this as a kid but I could only remember this in parts. It all came back to me while watching but I am happy that I saw it once more as you can almost never get it wrong with Chaplin.

Jules and Jim(1962): To tell you the truth, in the first 15 minutes I felt like Trauffaut was being a little too intellectual, on the verge of being pretentious. With the entry of Catherine, however it warmed up to me in the middle part until the end. But again in last 15-20 minutes, Catherine's behaviour had me pretty much turned off. There is a lot to like about this movie, in direction, story and technical aspects of it but if you do not care about the way it ends, especially being such a dramatic end, I don't think bodes well overall.

Police Academy(1984): I have no freaking idea why did I see it ? To tell you the truth, for some reason I always thought this was Jackie Chan movie and I usually love most of them, if nothing else for some great action. This was nothing like it, not even 'so bad it's good' way, just plain BAD.

Notorious(1946)(Re-Watch): Because it is my favorite Hitchcock and one of my all-time favorites and because of this.

Fallen Angels(1995): I haven't seen any other Kar Wai Wong since In The Mood for Love(2000) which I loved. So, I jumped on it when I saw it available on Netflix. But, this was a little too weird for me, especially the part with the mute guy even though all the usual Kar Wai Wong stuff like beautiful cinematography and very distinct background score was all there.

Belle De Jour(1967): Another Bunuel after The Discreet Charm of Bourgeoisie(1972) and That Obscure Object of Desire(1977). It wasn't as good as Discreet Charm but God, Catherine Denueve was amazing. I will probably never understand the whole surrealism thing, even this idea of housewife spending her weekday afternoons as a prostitute because she is bored didn't go down easily but it was so bizarre and I mean it in a good way.

Much Ado About Nothing(1993): This movie has caught me in dichotomy. On one hand, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit and thought Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh were really good in respective parts and I liked twists in the end too. While on the other hand, couple of things irritated me to no end like that language - I know that probably was authentic Old English but did they really have to use it? Also, I am no Shakespearean expert but who in this freaking world thought of Keanu Reeves and Denzel Washington as Brothers ??

Election(1999): My third Alexander Payne after The Descendants(2011) and About Schmidt(2002) and this surely was best so far and this is coming from someone who loved The Descendants(2011). Check out my review here.

Breathless(1960): Let me first start with saying that I quite liked it, especially lengthy conversations between Michel and Patricia. But there were few things that did bother me like that jump Cutting which may have been revolutionary then but it bothered me. And first 10-15 minutes of it - too much randomness. But, it settled down really well with Jean Seberg's entry. In the end, this will probably a movie that I understand and appreciate the importance of but do not get the appeal of.

2 Days in Paris(2007): It is completely inappropriate, way over-sexed and even racist at times, ohh and sexist too. But it was Hilarious !! Adam Goldberg was perfect for this kind of role and Julie Delpy seems to be getting hang of it after Before Sunrise/Sunset. I think I am now ready for 2 Days in New York(2012).

Iron Man(2008): And this is not a Re-Watch. I had never seen this before and I have seen Iron Man 2(2010) in theater. My room-mate wanted to watch all the Avenger movies after watching it since he has seen none of them. I sill haven't seen any of hulk movies yet, but otherwise probably the best of the lot yet.

L'Avventura(1960): Continuing my 'Foreign movies made in 60s from 1001 movies list', I ventured from French New Wave into Italian existentialism with Antonioni. For some reason, I could connect with this a lot more than any of the French movies I saw this month. It seemed much more plausible, much more natural, controlled.

Gods Must Be Crazy II(1989): Last month I saw first part of this movie and it was probably the most hilarious movie I have seen - I said that I never laughed so long and so hard in my whole life. I went into second part with little less expectations. It wasn't LOL kind of movie that the first one was but it was still very innocent, genuine and still good for few laughs.

The Audrey Hepburn Story(2000): Even though every single person that knew Audrey Hepburn was as enamored, as devoted by her charm as I am is little hard thing to digest but that's what this film tells me. However personally that is not the biggest success of this movie. It is the fact that despite my devotion, I have actually never written anything about her is soon to change. I really don't have much to say about this movie as I kept imagining real Audrey Hepburn at that place and once she is there, there is almost nothing I think is wrong with it.

Last Year at Marienbad(1961): I had no idea what was I watching for 90 minutes. It seemed to be getting somewhere by the end, but my brain was completely turned off by then to process anything. It just felt too tedious and laborious to reach from where it started. It might be my own loss that I could not keep my attention as I could not connect the dots in the end, but even that incessant background music was annoying the hell out of me by then. I don't want to call it a bad movie though - it was stunning visually, even the idea and execution was very unique but maybe next time I will have little more patience to understand it.

Doctor Zhivago(1965): I first heard of Doctor Zhivago and Boris Pasternak in an article about how he was harassed by the soviet government. I have been meaning to read/watch this ever since. It also spent quite a bit of time in my queue only because of its 199 minuted of running time. But, I am really glad to have finally seen it. I am still sure that if I read the book, it will affect me much more deeply but even movie touched me somewhere deep down.

Judgement at Nuremberg(1961): I usually don't but DVDs without watching a movie first but I have been looking for this for a long time and one day while I was waiting for The Hunger Games(2012) to start, I found it lying in one of the discount bins at one store. I am really glad that I bought it then because even though it was lying around for few months, I am sure that this will be in my top 100 list very high whenever I decide to revise that list. However, I will refrain from saying much further as it is difficult to say anything without getting into the politics of it for which I don't think this is right place.

Crazy, Stupid, Love(2011): I was little skeptical about it since I usually can not stand Steve Carell, especially when he is being himself. But I really like all the three other leads and I had heard lot of praise for it. So, I gave it a go and it is just what name suggests Crazy, Stupid and Fun and lot of it, even Steve Carell was so much better, not at all like him.

Arsenic and Old Lace(1944): I am little confused as to how to describe this. I didn't think it was a terrible movie but for some reason, I was infuriated by the end of it. You know Cary Grant in it in the end, I was feeling just like him - I wanted to charge up the stairs, scream at the top of my lungs, hit people, break things and I swear I am not like that usually. I guess it was little too much slap-sticky for me to take but then again, I really don't think it was a terrible movie.

Driving Miss Daisy(1989): Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy were both solid and it was absolutely pleasant otherwise. I had couple of small issues with it like in the end when she starts to deteriorate, it felt like it happens out of nowhere and I had no idea of any timeline. But, still worth watching for two leading performances.

Videodrome(1983): I usually don't say this foe any movie, but I HATED this movie passionately. There wasn't a single thing I liked in this movie, all around boring and pathetic. I wasn't scared, I wasn't least bit intrigued, I was only appalled and disgusted. It did become a little better in second half of it but once there comes a point where I stop watching a movie and start finding out flaws in it, and after that it is really difficult to get me back into it.

Broadway Danny Rose(1984): Another movie that warmed up a bit in second half whereas first half was stupid and very predictable. Woody Allen was being himself once again and there are very few occasions I can bare him alone for one and half hours and this wasn't one of them. Mia Farrow was saving grace here, very different from what little I have seen of her. I don't mean to sound acerbic as in the end I wasn't really disappointed because of second half but I am not really singing praises of it either.

Can on a Hot Tin Roof(1958): Tennessee Williams certainly knew how to make portray dysfunctional families in his provocative plays. It still isn't Virginia Woolf(1966) or even Long Day's Journey into Night(1962) but Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman and Burl Ives just kill it. Dialogues certainly got to be the best aspect of this play but you know what, turn it off completely and I still can look at Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman all day long.

Pineapple Express(2008): It is got to be one of the most completely ridiculous, no-brainer and just outright stupid stoner comedies - Seth Rogen and Company doing what they can do best. Most of the times it just disgusted me but it really was so bad that it was good. Half the time I had no idea if I was laughing because I thought it was funny or because it was just plain bad and I had enough of it but I seem to have enjoyed it.

La Notte(1961): It's little too early to comment properly on it as I saw it less 2 hours ago and there is a lot to contemplate. Most important thing I need to think about is what makes it a part of trilogy with L'avventura(1960) and L'eclisse(1962) which I haven't seen yet, as there aren't many common elements that jump out, maybe except theme of alienation and longing. But if there was one thing that I admired about it, it was it didn't seem to be in any hurry to reach to any conclusion and despite that kept me interested in it all the time. All the three leads gave beautifully restrained performances, even Antonini's direction was stand-out.

Total Count:27. 24 First Time Watches and 3 Re-watches.

2012 YTD Count

Total Count:154. 146 First Time Watches and 8 Re-watches.

Usual division of this month comes out to be 12 classics and 15 new. 8 Foreign, 18 English and 1 Hindi. Considering how hectic this month was personally, especially first 15 days, I am actually surprised that I saw more movies this month than last two and it has been very peculiar too in a sense that I finally saw many movies that have been in my watchlist for a long time. Some of them turned out to be better than I expected(The Double Life of Veronique(1991) and Judgement at Nuremberg(1961)) whereas others left me tad disappointed(Last Year at Marienbad(1961) and Breathless(1960)) but that's always part of trade. 

I was actually planning to see quite a few of 60s foreign movies this month but I ended up watching only 6. I am going to continue it in the next month as I have got hold of quite a few by now and if Netflix didn't expire 5 movies off my queue by 1st July, I would have seen them this month itself. It also brought my foreign movie numbers down as I wanted to compensate for 3 foreign movies last month but it wasn't to be. I am also going to try and watch few 2012 movies this month as I have seen only like 4 till now and half of the year is already gone. Hopefully, there will be couple of trips to theater as well, one is already booked(The Dark Knight Rises(2012) off course) and second one looks pretty set too(The Amazing Spider-Man(2012)).

So, how was your month ? Did you see anything interesting ? What do you think of the movies I saw ? Any favorites ?

Monday, June 25, 2012


When Alexander Payne released his The Descendants(2011) last December, there was a lot of buzz around him finally getting a movie made 7 years after Sideways(2004). I understand the excitement and all, especially because a notable director coming back from long hiatus, but I just couldn't get on bandwagon only since I had never seen an Alexander Payne movie by then. Even this year, similar scenario occurred for Moonrise Kingdom(2012) - Oh Yeah, Just kill me already !! I have never seen a Wes Anderson movie and even though based on the trailer alone, I still think it is a nice premise and from the early buzz, it might be worth checking out which I am sure I will eventually, but the point is I did not feel the heat for it. Getting back to Alexander Payne - So, The Descendants was my first Payne and I loved it, I even put it in my Top 10 of the year and since then, I have been trying to see his movies whenever I can. I saw About Schmidt(2002) couple of months ago and thought it really was a heartfelt movie and loved seeing Jack Nicholson in little different role. I still haven't seen Sideways even though I own it - believe me it is one of the 3 incidents ever, other two being Dawn of the Dead(2004) which I finally saw last month after having it for over a year and Judgement at Nuremberg(1961) which I bought because I really wanted to see it for longest of times and still haven't seen for whatever reason but I promise I will see it this month.

So, the other day I saw Election(1999), another one of Alexander Payne movies and to tell you the truth, even though I enjoyed both The Descendants and About Schmidt, this definitely is his best yet !! I am almost sure that I am one of the last few unfortunate souls to watch it. So, I will not waste a lot of time and space giving the plot. But, if you are one of us - unfortunate souls, first of all, thanks for the company and second of all, I intend to discuss almost every aspect of the movie. So, move forward at your own risk. So, Written and Directed by Alexander Payne, just like the other two movies I have seen, if there is one aspect of the movie that does stand out in all three movies it's his writing. He definitely is a great director and I will get to that as well, but what makes Alexander Payne movies to stand out for me is his characters are always very authentic, very genuine. They always walk, talk, behave like normal people like us would and still somehow he makes them different. I might be stretching it out a little but for the fact that his writing always comes before his direction, I feel like comparing him to Billy Wilder - always a writer first. Look at the characters in Election. Now, look at Tracy Flick - she is our leading lady, so-called heroine we are suppose to root for but she isn't really a likable character, Jim McAllister is a real good teacher, even a decent fellow who also has a decent life off course until he tries to sleep with his best friend's divorced wife and tries to stop an ambitious student from taking over school just because he doesn't like her. And more importantly, I am sure that we have seen such characters in our own school life - an over-achiever, rather dumb but a popular guy who gets everything easily and a rebel without cause and they are pretty much exactly as they are portrayed here.

Based on Tom Perrota novel by same name, Election is a satirical comedy and is somehow supposed to reflect the contemporary state of politics as well. Now I won't get into Politics here. But, even if you take this allied association out of equation, you are still left with a story of how normally rational people can get on to the path of self destruction because of stupid grudges. Alexander Payne makes sure that each character gets his own arc properly. He takes his time to develop them, introduce them to us so that by the time they reach their eventual end, we not only enjoy this journey together but more often than not, agree to their destiny. Look at Paul Metzler here. He really isn't a bright guy, he definitely isn't Student President material. He is just a football player with a broken leg and a real nice heart, who loves his sister. He is really in this race because of only one reason - his teacher thinks Tracy is taking over the whole school and needs to be stopped and he is probably the only one who can stand any chance against her. All his characteristics are maintained throughout the movie, even when his own sister jumps in the ring against him, even in his prayers the night before election and even after he is taken down from the President's post in the end. Payne's characters are never under-developed nor do they take over all the time. Now for example take look at Tammy Metzler. This is a character which I think can be taken out from the film completely without doing a minimal damage to the whole story. But, not only is she added in the story to make it even more hilarious, she gets her own, complete arc - with Jennifer, she even gets a closure - and off course, she also has a sub-plot with her sexuality in question. Sid's character in The Descendants is another excellent example here.

Now let us talk about acting here as there are few amazing performances here !! Starting with Matthew Broderick. I haven't seen him in much except Ferris Bueller's Day off(1986) where also he gives a great performance. I have seen Glory(1989) but that was so long ago that I don't even remember half the actors in it. He does a great job here as Jim McAllister from his initial very affable, devoted teacher with a nice little family to someone who keeps on gathering dirt on his downward roll. And it is hilarious to see how he always convinces himself to think that he is doing the right thing, even right at the end. Chris Kline is perfect as Paul Metzler as slightly goofy but straight forward guy who gives Tracy a run for her money - he would have won if he voted for himself you know and so is Jessica Campbell in Tammy's role. However, pick of the cast has to be Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick. She was just PERFECT!! in every aspect of that role. Way she talks, way she walks, her flacial expressions, her body language - just everything about her was perfect. Will you believe me, if I said that I immediately put Walk the Line(2005) on just to see if she usually walks the way she does in Election or did she do that for the role ? It wouldn't be an over statement if I say that she actually lived that role. There is very little to laugh at this little Miss Perfect who gets up at 5 AM to bake cup-cakes to influence students on the day of Student Council elections but the way she does it, you got to !!

Of all the three Alexander Payne movies I have seen, this might be the most original, most subtle and most complete film. However, unfortunately out of his 3 nominations for Adapted Screenplay Oscar, this is the only Oscar he did not win. I have no idea why I waited for so long even though I have heard nothing but praise for this movie. However, I am certainly glad I can check this this hilarious movie off of my watchlist.

Rating(out of 5):

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Happy Birthday U, Me and Films !!

About 13 months ago from today, I saw an article in now extinct IMDb Hitlist on Hitchcock and his movies that took me to a blog Riku Writes (now Streams of Unconsciousness). At that time, I was completely oblivious to the concept of a movie blog even though by then, I was already turned into a film buff for quite some time. My friends were referring me as a 'movie guy', they had stopped asking me 'Hey dude, what are you doing ?', it turned into 'So, what are you watching now ?', they were asking me for movie recommendations and my opinion on whether should they watch certain movie or not. But, personally this particular habit of mine was kinda stagnant, going nowhere. So, I was looking for something different to do with it. On personal front, I was done with all the course work for my masters with 3 months of summer just around the corner. Even when the semester would start in the Fall, only thing I had to worry about was my Master's Project which meant that I can pretty much have my own time-table for the whole week except one weekly meeting on Friday. 

With all this in mind, me stumbling onto this blog was quite serendipitous. Wheels started to turn inside my head, contemplating the idea of starting my own blog. I spent some time going through contents of that blog. In the matter of few days, I discovered that there is a whole world of movie bloggers out there which was encouraging. However, not only that I did not have any prior experience of writing anything, much less of writing it in English, I didn't have any formal film education neither to help me. For those who do not know, English is not my second but third language. Up until I was 10 years old, only thing I knew about English was A-Z. My 4 year old niece knows more nursery rhymes than me as no one read them to me when I was kid. So, I took my time not only to decide whether to go ahead or not but also to try and see if I can really write something worth putting out there. I spent a little over a month deliberating, practicing before I finally published my first article exactly year ago from today on 13 June 2011. And that is how U, Me and Films came into existence !!

Journey in this year has been fulfilling to say the least. I would like to believe that my writing has evolved over this year, but to tell you the truth I have no way of judging this. What I do know is my movie tastes have evolved a lot, what I do know is my knowledge, my horizons have widened for certain. I still don't get a lot of pop culture references but even then I at least know what people are talking about. I know that I have written only around 60 posts, but with me being a master procrastinator and with an extremely limited vocabulary that I have, it still takes quite some time for me to write it. I also took it little slow till I graduated at the end of January. I have doubled my speed since then but even then it comes to around 6-7 posts/month. I am still doing my best. However, the most fulfilling experience has been how welcoming and friendly this whole blogging community has been and that has been true especially since I joined LAMB in March. Anywhere you go, first blogging advice you will receive is always blog for yourself, not for anyone else and even though I agree with it completely, it is always great to know few people around you that you can look up to, that can inspire you, that can set example for you. Over this one year, I have been lucky enough to get acquainted with quite a few bloggers through different channels. So, let me take this chance to raise my glass to some of these phenomenal film bloggers that I have come across in last year who have done exactly this to me...

Richard Hourula@Stream of Unconsciousness: Unfortunately, I haven't had any communication with him over the year. But, as I previously stated, his blog has played an instrumental part in conception of this blog and he deserves due credit for it.

Alex@And So It Begins: For being an inspiration to almost half of the posts on this blog with his encyclopedic knowledge of movies, and more than that for being such a great patron with a lot of encouragement. We are eagerly waiting for your film, Earrings !!

Ruth@...Let's be Splendid about This...:  For our mutual Ghibli love and for all the lovely comments over the time and 7x7 Link award which ungratefully I didn't reply to. So, maybe she will forgive me for that.

Scott@Front Room Cinema: For his persistence of commenting on almost every single post. He is being missed in this part of blogosphere but since he is enjoying a rare family time(or that's what he told me), I can't really complain.

Stevee@Cinematic Paradox: For giving U, Me and Films it's 1st ever Blogging award and for maintaining an awesome blog and for her rating system and for her running features. I am sure she will win quite a few Lammies this time around.

Tyler@Southern Vision: For being a great point of reference as far as foreign or art house movies are considered - I have always been in awe of his passion for it and For being go-to guy to find movies on YouTube :D

Nikhat@Being Norma Jeane: A fellow Indian movie blogger, who also writes about English movies in English(unfortunately, I haven't found many of us) and who also has a colorful and beautiful blog.

Sati@Cinematic Corner: For...Have you seen her blog ? You wouldn't ask why if you have. She has Best Design Lammy in her pocket and then she writes something stunning like this as well.

Chris@moviesandsongs365: Even though he hasn't done them in last couple of months due to the health reasons, I loved his eclectic reviews with much more information than just a normal review and his song suggestions are always awesome.

Mette@Lime Reviews and Strawberry Confessions: For being passionate about Indian movies more than lot of us, Indians are. If you look at her site, you will notice she has a lot more Bollywood stuff than me.

Never Too Early for Movie Predictions: He was one of those people who were extremely supportive and welcoming immediately after I joined LAMB and off course, all of us are in awe of his round the year Oscar predictions. You can count on my vote for this !! 

CS@Big Thoughts from a Small Mind: For all the blogging love shared.

Murtaza@A Potpurri of Vestiges: Another fellow Indian movie-blogger who writes a great blog with very detailed reviews.

Some of my favorite pod-casters Reel Insight, Matineecast, French Toast Sunday and off course LAMBCast and they all have phenomenal blogs that I am in constant awe of.

LAMB: Last but probably the most important, for giving the platform to come and talk with fellow movie geeks without feeling like the only person on the earth who cares about something like this.

And in the end, let me raise it to anyone and everyone, who has ever visited this blog or commented on it or who has ever tweeted with me sharing their opinions about movies, please come and join me on this festive occasion. There is a lot of room for you all !! I really do not know how long will I keep blogging. But with such an encouragement, I can only hope I will go on and on !!


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Notorious and use of Camera in it

Disclaimer: I have discussed almost every single aspect of this movie I think worth discussing in detail, including most of plot and its ending. If you haven't seen this movie(WHAT ??), maybe you want to see it first.

Last month was a little peculiar in the sense that I know at least half a dozen people who saw Notorious(1946) for the first time. I felt like I was talking about it with many different people for almost all the month. It might just be coincidence that I also read quite a few articles on it too and all this from completely different people who to the best of my knowledge did not influence each other to either watch it or write about it. Notorious(1946) is not only my favorite Hitchcock but one of my all time favorite movies, #5 in my Favorite 100 list. However, neither have I written anything about it, nor have I seen it since I saw it for the first time and fell in love instantly with it. So, with it being in the back of my mind for almost whole month, I decided to take this chance to make up for both this anomalies. Incidentally, I have never written anything about most of my favorite movies. So, maybe I can even make this a recurring feature like Profile of a Director and talk about few of them. Let us see where it goes from here because I am not really good at following plans.

There are 3 main reasons why I love Notorious. First Hitchcock's impeccable direction which throughout this movie keeps the tension palpable, secondly almost perfect pairing of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in an unconventional romance but they are so amazing in their respective roles that it almost hurts to see them together in single frame. There are quite a few exceptional pairings in Hitchcock's films itself, I for one can make a strong case for Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo(1958) or Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window(1950). But, none of them has ever come closer to this unfortunate couple. But, most of all, it's the Camerawork in this movie that impresses me. Now, I am not the person who understands much about the technical aspect of the movie-making. I have never learned anything in school or college about it nor have I attended any lectures on it. So, it takes something special for someone like me to notice anything beyond what you see on surface. If you have seen The Wire, this is almost as surprising as D'angelo Barksdale summarizing The Great Gatsby in most perfect sense ever. But Hitchcock's camera is such an integral part of this story that it feels more like another character in the movie. And I also love the fact that these 3 aspects are so well blended together that they compliment each other perfectly to take it on completely another level. The fact that neither Hitchcock nor any of the leads or at least this exemplary work behind the camera was even nominated to the Oscars that year has failed to make any sense to me.

Hitchcock uses a lot of techniques with his camera to impress us. Right from using close-ups all the time to give it much personal, much closer look to using point of view shots like rolling the camera around as Alicia rolls on to her bed while looking at Devlin or 'That's your hair in your eyes' shot, he keeps on pulling different techniques out of his sleeve. Hitchcock opens his shop very early in the movie. After the very first shot in the courtroom where we see Alicia i.e. Ingrid Bergman's father get convicted, we go to her house where she is seen with some friends and a stranger she doesn't know. This stranger is Cary Grant but we are not privy to this information right away as most part of this conversation takes place with camera behind Grant, just showing the back of his head casting shadow on the whole frame, kind of suggestive of some kind of sinister motive of the person but then after everyone leaves, we see him to be Grant i.e. Devlin. It is really interesting to me that Devlin, Cary Grant's characters keeps on making this good to bad and back again transition throughout the movie. I have always said that Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant in Notorious is my favorite pairing. Funny thing is they spend most of this movie away from each other, trying not to fall for each other, even hating each other. There are hardly couple of scenes in the beginning to link them romantically - Alicia flirting with Devlin initially, Devlin trying to keep it business and then Devlin giving it up and embracing her with all the passion he can muster. But the beauty of Hitchcock's direction is these mere couple of scenes are more than enough to keep us wanting to bring them back together, making their whole journey as painful to the viewer as to characters themselves. Once Devlin is been detailed about Alicia's assignment and he returns to romantic rendezvous Alicia is planning at home, there is a deliberate attempt he makes to push her away, to make her hate him so that the whole thing can be easy for her. He even takes initiative to set her up with their Alex Sebastian, their target - Claude Rains in another exquisite supporting role.

Story moves ahead swiftly with every scene where two leads are in frame together is like clashing of two knights ready to cut each others throats, only difference here is there only weapon is their words. Bergman and Grant both work wonders portraying almost suffocating air of personal deception with an amazing control of their body language. Hitchcock plays one more stroke of genius by adding a scene with Devlin's bosses questioning Alicia's past after she has practically put her hand in Lion's mouth for them. Devlin apparently troubled by it tries to put meager defense of it but backs out at the slightest notion to give this already troubled relationship much required depth. Alex soon asks Alicia to marry her despite his mother's disinterest. By this time, there has been a kind of role reversal in the movie. With all his apparent passiveness to defend Alicia and completely closing out to her, Devlin has temporarily assumed the role of a villain whereas standing against the will of his own mother and openly portraying his desire for Alicia, Alex is in hero's chair. This again is perfectly planned out so as to achieve little more impact with apparent climax. Here, however, Hitchcock plays one more of his tricks with the camera now as a matter of key to the wine cellar is at hand - that of a tracking shot, probably the best I have seen. Alicia has arranged for Devlin to come home in party so that he can have a look at something suspicious in their wine cellar. She has also sneaked that key from Alex's bunch. Shot opens with camera completely zoomed out and little out of focus, seemingly trying to find something to focus at. It follows the spiral of the staircase, with some guests on it, until it finds Alex and Alicia standing at the foot of the staircase. It starts to zoom-in on them but seems little skewed and it keeps zooming-in until comes into focus with a close-up shot of Alicia hand holding the key in it. There is also one more short tracking shot of a Coffee cup in the end as well after she is been found of spying, poisoned to get rid of her, slowly but surely.

Hitchcock was Master of Thrillers. Almost all the movies he did dealt with it in some kind. However, thing with Notorious that makes it worth for me personally is thriller aspect of the story takes a backseat to the romance narrated in the most unconventional fashion or character study of it's two leads. Probably, also the reason why Vertigo(1958) works much better for me. This is also evident in the final minutes of the movie as Devlin worried that Alicia lied to him about falling back to her drinking ways goes to see her and finds out she is being poisoned. These last minutes concentrate on Alicia and Devlin finally getting together and making their way out safely than her blowing the cover of the Nazi leaders gathered in the room downstairs. However, Hitchcock not only concentrates on the two leads but also makes the side characters interesting and rich. Claude Rains as Alex is the third corner of this love triangle, visibly older than the other two leads but I have seen far too Audrey Hepburn movies to be troubled by this. More importantly, Hitchcock plays his card very carefully, not trying to force this difference on us. Another character that leaves an impression in even a smaller role is Leopoldine Constantine is role of Alex's Mother, as evil and calculating as you can get. Visibily unhappy with her son's increasing proximity with Alicia from start, she almost seems elated after heartbroken Alex goes to tell her the truth about Alicia. Quick to point out the fact that 'They are being saved by the enormity of her son's stupidity', she even concocts plan to get rid of her almost immediately, as if she is been waiting for the moment for quite some time.

Notorious isn't the only movie that Hitchcock has played with his camera in. Psycho(1960) is one more example of equally masterful, if not better, display of his technique. Even his direction is usually the most notable aspect in the movie. However, there is something delicate, right from those beautifully constrained performances from the leading pair, in the way this whole movie is presented that touches somewhere deep inside me. I have seen close to dozen movies that Hitchcock did and I like almost every single one of them. All the movies I mentioned in this post are definitely some of my all-time favorites. However, Notorious has always occupied a place close to my heart and with the recent re-viewing I can assure you that it still does.

Rating(out of 5):

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