Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wrapping It Up: February

Another month, another wrap-up post full of this month's viewings.

February was Oscars month, February was month that I finally started watching movies other than those released in 2012. But more than anything else, I will remember February as the month that I saw three movies that I am happy to finally have them checked off my list - Antichrist, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Irreversible. None of them were easy experiences, none of them were something that I would go out seeking and it definitely wasn't planned to watch them in the same month. Actually, you can see form my reaction that I could not have asked for more varied response. I was thinking going all out and finish few more that I usually put in the same category but three were enough. Here is everything I saw in February.


Irreversible(2002): The reason this title is here above all the star meters is because I flat out deny to rate this movie. This isn't my first Gasper Noe movie, nor did I walk into it knowing nothing. I knew very well what was I signed up for. I knew this wasn't going to be an easy experience to stomach this movie and I probably would have been better off, if it was just what we see on screen, however horrific it was. But his shaking, revolving, rotating camera made the matters infinitesimally worse. First thirty minutes of this movie or until Monica Bellucci enters easily qualifies as the worst movie-watching experience I have had. Ever. And that doesn't even include the most horrible scene of the movie. See what I mean ?

A Wednesday(2008)(Hindi)(Re-Watch): My favourite Hindi movie of all time. One that strives to do something that Hindi movies rarely aim for, in its subject matter and as well as in its treatment. And even then, for the reason explained here, I usually hesitate to recommend this movie to anyone not from India. But as the director released his second movie Special 26 this month, I tried to do exactly that. Let me know if I am right.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days(2007): Another movie that I walked into knowing perfectly well what I've signed up for. From the very first second, I dreaded that moment will come and at the same time kept weirdly anticipating it and hoping it wouldn't or at least it wouldn't be what I was thinking it would be. If you have seen the movie, you would know what I am talking about and when that actually happened, I just could not keep my eyes open. I have never done this in my life but it was impossible to watch. Plus there was a dialogue earlier in the movie that was extremely unsettling. Those images probably will stay at the back of my mind and haunt me for many more months to come. But Anamaria Marinca, God !! That was some performance.

Searching For Sugar Man(2012): When it comes to English music, I am not very well versed with it and hence I usually keep my distance. Knowing that this was about some singer, I was a little apprehensive of this documentary as well. Few minutes into this, I was feeling like I am right but then it turned into this transforming, almost unbelievable story of this person - Rodriguez. His simplicity, his down-to-earth nature is what impressed me the most. It was so good to see the happy ending of it, even though he isn't exactly a celebrity.

Beyond The Hills(2012): Another one of the 9 shortlisted movies for this year's Foreign Language category. It was a gripping drama with very effective exorcism sequence. Both the leads were excellent in their roles. I loved what Voichita did with her voice; so soft, so low. It was also shot kinda minimalistic way, which was also interesting. If it wasn't for the ending, or the lack of it, I probably would have had nothing bad to say about it. There were at least 3 points where it could've easily ended effectively but it carries on for like 1 minute and ends on half note. I am not sure what was the point.

Fish Tank(2009): I am really struggling to write something coherent here. Performance wise, Fassbender and Katie Jarvis, who as it turns out has only done this movie which should explain the her powerful but raw performance, were really brilliant. I struggled a lot with the morality of Fassbender's character and to come to base with their relationship. But I guess, that is the whole point of the movie.

Special 26(2013)(Hindi): First movie of the year 2013 and it turns out to be a Hindi movie. It wasn't really planned but all I wanted was good start and I am happy since Special 26 delivered. It had some loose ends that could have tied little better like it didn't really need most of the songs and even heroine for that matter, but that is something that you don't see many Bollywood movies without. Apart from that, it was a good story which had some great performances from Anupam Kher, Manoj Bajpayee and Akshay Kumar and a lot of good humour too.

Ordinary People(1980): One of the three Best Picture Winners from 80s that I haven't seen. Before getting into this, all I knew about this was it gets a lot of crap for winning over Raging Bull(1980). Now that I have seen this, it is going to be lot harder to hate it because I kinda liked it. It probably isn't better of the two but it is still a good movie in its own accord. Though I am little baffled about Timothy Hutton being considered 'Supporting' and liked Judd Hirsch more in that role, he was really good and so was Mary Tyler Moore.

No(2012): Third of 5 nominees in this year's Foreign Film category. The entry from Chile covers the No campaign against General Pinochet in 1988's public Referendum in Chile. I was mainly interested in it because of the political nature of the movie but I was much more taken by the way it is shot especially when I learned that it was a conscious choice and the reason director chose to shoot that way was so that he can use some of the original footage that was actually used in campaign. Full review here.

The French Connection(1971): February being a month of Oscars, I tried to synch my Blind Spot with it as well and made this best picture winner my Blind Spot for this month. This probably was the last of the Best Picture winners that I really wanted to see. At some point I will probably watch all the rest of the winners as well but I don't think there is anything left that I really 'Want' to see. I guess I haven't said anything about the movie yet but you can find everything I want to say about it here.

A Woman Under Influence(1974): This movie will need a lot more deliberation than I am willing to do right now and I will probably have some completely different opinion of it after. But I don't think my opinion will change on one thing - Gena Rowland. She was AWESOME!! She killed that role. Especially in first half, I was literally jumping in my chair. I struggled to understand Nick though. I had no idea what was he doing and why, up to the extent that you wouldn't know who is the crazy one? I borderline hated him. 

Sleuth(1972): A kind of movie that made me change my stance on it, multiple times while watching. Both Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier did great job in their respective roles, playing their sadistic games, constantly trying to get better of each other. However, this movie works even better inside your head than on screen. It successfully keeps you guessing constantly as to how much of what you are watching is real and how much is part of their game. Real success of it is that the story takes many turns which kept me interested, but stops just before you think it is overdoing it.

How to Survive a Plague(2012): I have to admire the courage and the tenacity of all these Act Up and Tag guys to fight for the cause till the bitter end but unfortunately, I had lot of problems with them to respect them irrevocably. First of all, I thought the way they pressurized the system initially wasn't right but I probably would've thought otherwise if they got any results. What troubled me most however was they flipped there stance by complete 180 degrees midway through the battle and pretty much lost my respect. Plus they fought with each other, fragmented. I really don't know what makes them so special than any other group of people doing something together. I didn't think they helped speed up the process that much.

Suspicion(1941): Hitchcock reuniting with Joan Fontaine after his big Victory at Oscars with Rebecca(1940) and interestingly this turned out to be Joan Fontaine's big victory as she won the Best Actress Oscar with this. It wasn't one of the best Hitchcock movies I have seen but I didn't have much problem with it as well. Well, besides it's underwhelming ending. Hitchcock builds up the whole story really well until the very last minute but in the end when we learn the secret, it didn't feel worthy of all that built-up. It was rather disappointing.

The Manchurian Candidate(1962): I have to admit that this plot of the movie is unique, something which very much reminds me of '60s and '70s Hindi action movies, even though watching it now it feels very lame, just like them. Though Janet Leigh was completely wasted, it also has some good performances by Frank Sinatra as well as Angela Lansbury. However there is something in that story or in that execution of it that I can not shake off the feeling that something is off here, even though last 10 minutes of the movie try to provide most of the answers.

The Impossible(2012): Story of one Spanish family suffering the havoc of Tsunami. It is an emotional story told beautifully, with both Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor doing fine job. However, somehow it didn't seem right. I mean, when we are talking about something as devastating as Tsunami, I am sure everyone there had a similar story. I don't mean to be a prick by saying that just because they are well-to-to family, their pain isn't a pain but at least they had ways and means to get through this tragedy. Many others weren't that lucky. 

Paan Singh Tomar(2010): Best thing about this movie is Irrfan Khan's titular performance. It is very refreshing to see someone play this off-beat character with such clarity and ease. From his body language to his actual language, Irrfan Khan picks this character up beautifully. However, unfortunately, there wasn't much to it except lead character. What starts off looking something different, this story eventually winds up taking the same beaten down path with almost every known turn in the book.

Half Nelson(2006): Nice little movie with a little different look at things and feel to it. It also boasted some great performances. Ryan Gosling was awesome and I am sure deserved his nomination for this role of a teacher who is basically a good guy but due to his addiction, comes off as an antagonistic person. Anthony MacKie and Shareeka Epps were good too. I did not understand that ending though. Maybe I missed something but it felt like there were too many loose ends in it to end there. 

Out of Africa(1985): I liked this movie way more than I thought I would. There is almost nothing not to like in this movie. Meryl Streep is phenomenal actress and she once again proves she really can pick up any accent very well. Robert Redford was good as well and to add to it, amazing cinematography with a African safari feel to it. My only problem with it was for 2 hours and 40 minutes, there wasn't that much material in it. I wasn't bored at all but I wasn't much invested in it either. I highly doubt if I will remember much of this movie after a while.

Les Miserables(2012): If I am being honest, I liked it way more than I thought I would. First hour of the movie was very slow but story picked up for me with introduction of Student revolution and surprisingly made me care lot about these characters. I had problem with important characters dropping suddenly, every now and then. But my biggest problem was with singing every damn dialogue; that felt stupid and got boring really fast. I can understand having songs in it and I was impressed with some of them. But why sing Everything? And it didn't even rhyme.

Monsters(2010): For some reason, this movie once was a part of '1001 Movies' list. Granted that they apparently took it right off next year but still, I don't really see the reason. But when I think about it, I have seen much worse as well. I wasn't sure exactly what this movie was trying to achieve. It felt like it kept on trying to make a big statement and check out at the last minute e.g. I can understand him showing the two sides of town around the borders but it felt like they took one step and went from some kind of carnival to a graveyard. I am not sure that was the aim.

Antichrist(2009): This movie could easily have been up at the top with Irreversible and just like Irreversible, its not because of the unspeakable that happens in this movie. My main problem with this movie was none of it made a lick of sense to me. If ever there was any reason as to why everything is happening, I did not get it and hence what happens to her, what she does to him and to herself and whatever else that happens around them felt baseless, strange and weird and after some time, just ridiculous. So Antichrist gets a rating and an outrageous one at that, just like movie. 

Total Count:22. 21 First Time Watches and 1 Re-watch .

2013 YTD Count
Total Count: 43. 41 First Time Watches and 2 Re-watches.

Almost since October 2012, I have been in this 2012 mode where I tried to catch-up as many movies released this year as I can. That is close to 4 months full of movies; I kinda slowed down this month as you can see from this post. With the Oscars done last Sunday, it is finally time to wrap 2012 up officially. I intend to do exactly that in March. Next post on this blog, whenever it goes up, will be my Top 15 movies of 2012 and they will be followed by Best Performances lists, Male and Female, and that is it for 2012. I am looking forward to having more choices, sitting down with 15 movies that I want to see right at that instant and getting confused over which one to see first. That's the story of my life !! I won't set any hard and fast target as such, but I am hoping to concentrate more on 1001 movies list and AFI lists. Lets see how it goes!

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

Monday, February 25, 2013

And the Oscar Goes to...

It is that time of the year again !! With last night's Oscar, this is time to officially wrap-up 2012 and look forward to everything else. Starting with this post and with few more to come in early March, I am ready to do just that. For various reasons, I chose to be absent from all the predictions and other games prior to the Oscars. All I did was few tweets on some of the categories below but I loved the certain uncertainly about many categories. I think it made the actual ceremony a little more interesting. But after skipping on so called mandatory post on these predictions, I am not skipping the second mandatory post. As always, I am only concentrating on the categories that I have some knowledge of. So, only Film, Writing, Directing and Acting and here is the list the winners and my brief thoughts on these categories.

Results: I am not exactly saying that ManFarlane's opening sequence wasn't funny but I am also not saying it was. One, it was offensive, even though he tried to make it up for it afterwards. I mean who wants to listen to 'I have seen your Boobs' on Oscar stage? Really? And more important than that, it went on forever. I might have had little different opinion of it, itf it was half its length. 17 Minutes? and then they cut off Visual Effects Winners. Not Cool, Academy !!

Best Picture: Argo
Argo did built a strong momentum in its favour winning almost every single major award in last month or two. Going into the ceremony, it was pretty much sure that it's Argo's to lose. I am not any kind of Oscar pundit and I am not going into any stats, but it was staggering to see people dive onto them and literally finding reasons for it not to win. I loved this movie when I first saw it, I love it even now and I do not have any problem with it taking the big one. Of the 9 nominees, it wouldn't be my first choice but I will choose it over any one of the rest of the nominees.
Best Director: Ang Lee for Life of Pi
Lack of nomination to Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow made this category a little lackluster but to put it mildly, intriguing. Predictions were all over the place, from Spielberg to Ang Lee to Russell and even to some rare, bold, dreamer minds, even Haneke. Eventually, it looked like it will be a pick between Spielberg and Lee. Personally, I wasn't a big fan of either of the movie but I would have picked Spielberg. Academy went the other way and picked Lee, who did a good job of adapting what was considered unfilmable novel.

Best Actress in Lead Role: Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
Riva would have been my choice in this category but initially I had no hope for her. Well, until few days back when out of nowhere, I saw almost everyone standing behind her. I mean, I had no problem with it. After all, she's the one I wanted to win but what happened to Chastain? Or Lawrence? Didn't they win almost every single award there was to win? I was surprised to see that. In the end, Lawrence took the momentum with her and went till the end.

Best Actor In Lead Role: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
I don't have anything against DDL but I wasn't much keen on Lincoln or even him in it. It is a good performance but it just didn't feel anything special to me. In my opinion, Joaquin Phoenix and Denzel Washington were better. But that doesn't matter since I would be fool not to believe DDL was going to win this. Probably only Meryl Streep would've beat him this year.

Best Actress in Supporting Role: Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables.
Again, Nothing agains Anne Hathaway or Les Miserables. She was excellent in that role and obviously was going to win this Oscar and she did. Good for her. However, I was getting rather tired of her over-dramatic, over-ecstatic acceptance speeches. I like Hathaway as an actress and I want to keep liking her but it just was a little too much. I am glad that she didn't act too surprised and gave much more composed and heartfelt speech. Not Bad.

Best Actor In Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
I don't know if it makes it more interesting or frustrating but If ever there was a race more uncertain than this, I have not known it. I have seen people predicting practically every nominee in this race and it wasn't for nothing. Jones, Waltz and De Niro all had something going in there favour. I probably wouldn't have any problem with any of them winning though my favourite of 5 was Hoffman. But you have to choose one and I went with Waltz. And I was right. Waltz was awesome in Django, actually he was my favourite part of the movie. So, I am happy for his second Oscar.

Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained
WOW!! QUENTIN TARANTINO !! It wasn't what I expected. I thought that Academy will go with the WGA and give it to Mark Boal for ZDT. But Tarantino took it home. Why am I even trying to justify my excitement? It's Tarantino and I am happy he won, despite having few problems with Django. I am ecstatic for proving my guess wrong Academy! If only, you would give us few more of such awesome surprises.

Adapted Screenplay: Chris Terrio for Argo
I know I sound like a brooked record when I say I ain't complaining and go on to do just that but Argo can not win the big prize and not win anything else, right? It didn't have any chance in any of the other categories. So, this award automatically belonged to Argo. The reason I say I am not complaining is, even though it would have been nominate in every damn category, I would have chosen this category for it to win. Argo's screenplay was the strongest aspect of the movie in my opinion. So, I am happy that it won.

Animated Feature: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman for Brave
I haven't seen all the nominated movies but from what I have seen Brave was the best. Wasn't big fan of ParaNoramn and I haven't seen anything else yet. So I am probably not the right person to judge this but still I can be happy for Brave right?  

Foreign Language: Michael Haneke for Amour (Austria)

Well, that wasn't a surprise at all. I am yet to see two of the other four nominees

but Amour is my favourite movie of the year. So, I basically want it to win everything it can. But in reality, this was the only one award I was almost sure it will win. So, Team Haneke !! For once, I have seen the Best Foreign Film winner before it won the Oscar.

And we are Done with Life of Pi leading with 4, including Best Director, Les Miserables takes home 3, and today's big winner Argo taking home 3 as well. There were few surprises to keep it interesting for all of us - Ang Lee, Waltz, Tarantino and should I also say, Jennifer Lawrence? Not the best Oscars I have seen - I wasn't a big fan of Seth MacFarlane and his jokes, many of which seemed inappropriate to me but not to shabby either. I guess we will have to settle for that. Night hosted a lot of musical performances, most of which were quite decent actually. However, the highlight for me was Shirley Bassey. She was awesome. Michelle Obama introducing best picture nominee was a cool idea too. See you next year, Oscars !! I, for one, can not wait to officially close off 2012 and look forward to getting into all the other movies I have been stalling for past few months.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

February Blind Spot: The French Connection(1971)

When I put up the line-up for this series back in December, almost everyone came out in support of one movie on that list. It didn't really surprise me since I knew it was a popular movie. So the second month of the Blind Spot goes to the movie that got most enthusiastic response when I put up the line-up - The French Connection(1971), Best Picture Winner in that year's Oscar. It also seemed fitting that I should be watching this BP winner in the month of Oscars. 

First and foremost, what makes this a Blind Spot movie? In other words, why is this film essential?
For multiple reasons actually. First and foremost, I think it is one of the most respected BP Winners. I think most everyone agrees that The French Connection deserved to win, something that rarely happens these days and after 40 years of its release, its regarded with equal respect is some kind of a miracle. It is not only considered as a great movie overall but also as one of the best cop movies made ever. I have been meaning to check it off my list for a long time and could not think of a better way to do this.

So, what is the story about?
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle, played by Gene Hackman in his Oscar winning role, and his partner Salvatore 'Cloudy' Russo, Roy Scheider in his only role I have seen outside of Jaws(1975) and its sequel, are cops working in New York City's narcotics department. One day after they are done with work, they go to the bar for a drink and one of the tables attracts their attention. Popeye feels something fishy about it and working on a hunch, persuades Russo to tail them. Chasing one of the couples on the table through the might, they see them dropping something off in Little Italy and return to their real house and their candy store in working are area of Manhattan. They soon find out that this couple is Sal Boca and his wife Angie. They also find out that they both have previous records and many dubious connections. Because they think there is something big play going on in the background, they go to their boss to ask for some help and let them continue working on this case. Because of Popeye's background, he initially complains but eventually agrees to see if this can go anywhere.

One of the reasons Popeye and Russo get the permission they want is because they connect Boca to a guy named Joel Weinstock whom police have been keeping an eye on for long time. After many days of nothing, their efforts finally materialize when they hear Boca talking with Alain Charnier, French drug kingpin responsible for sizable percentage of drugs that comes into NYC from Europe. He is also accompanied by Pierre Nicoli, a killer for hire and Charnier's right hand-man. With the two big fish involved in the case, this case now becomes much more important and what follows is the game of Cat and Mouse to the bitter end for all the parties involved.  

What did I think of it? What did I like the most about it and what didn't I like?
There is so much to like in this movie - Friedkin's direction, Gene Hackman's amazing Oscar winning leading performance, earnestness of the characters, the way it is shot, it's use of silence, the way everything in this movie feels so tangible, so real. I love that these characters are flawed because it makes them so much real, so much more relatable. I loved the fact that at one point there is an almost 15 minute long stretch where there is not a single dialogue and it did not bother me at all. Hell, I almost didn't even realize it. Friedkin takes very good care of whatever happening on the screen is taking the story forward, with dialogue or without it. So there is always something going on the screen which is so thoroughly engaging that you don't really miss the dialogue so much.

But if you asked me what I liked the most?, my answer might surprise you. Because it is Chases. More specifically, the professional manner in which they are shot. There have been numerous occasions when I see someone following someone else, like 10 feet behind them or driving bumper to bumper with their car and every time I am help myself but throw my arms and be amazed. I have never followed anyone in my life but if you are following someone, I think you wouldn't want them to know. Otherwise there is not point in it. And I never understood why filmmakers don't take care of it because I don't think it costs them anything more just to keep some safe distance. So I loved that Friedkin paid attention to this small but important detail, especially when half of the movie is nothing but chases. At one point, Gene Hackman even crosses the road just because person he is tailing did and he wants to keep that safe distance. Unfortunately, it doesn't work out for our Popeye since the guy already knows he is being followed but it sure worked for me.

After having seen it, do I agree with it's 'essential' status? and why?
I sure do. 70s was one of the best decades for American Cinema, probably even the best. Even though my own experiences are little limited, I think I have seen quite a few movies from that time and I think I can agree to this being one of the best movies of the decade. You have to realize that this automatically puts it into the contention for best ever. It certainly is amongst the best cop movies I have seen and I have seen fair share of them too. If this isn't enough for you, we have film's legacy to turn to. The French Connection carved the way for many more thrillers to follow. Film's hero isn't the most ideal leading man. He is often wrong, he often falls on the wrong side of the line, he is violent, even racist and he is borderline obsessive about his job and about doing things his way. Popeye following the elevated train at a very high speed, through heavy traffic is a single sequence that can associate him with every attribute noted. For the record, it is a damn fine car chase. Definitely one of the best I have seen, once again setting up the stage for many, many more to follow. I should also note that it was shot with no permits, no stalling the traffic and Hackman doing most of his own driving. And in the end, overall grim, realistic feel of the movie and the downbeat ending were also a step ahead to the police dramas of the period. I am convinced.

Does it open few new doors for me? Does this inspire to watch any other movies?
Rather than opening new avenues, this one actually caps few off. I have now seen every single Best Picture winner from '70s, widely considered as most influential, if not the Best, decade of American cinema. I have already checked off '90s and 2000s and hope to clear off '80s this month itself so as to set the bar as far back as 1969 - Midnight Cowboy(1969) should be the earliest BP winner I haven't seen at the end of this month, whatever may be the outcome this weekend.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

When I first started writing this blog around one and half years back, one of the things that I promised myself was even though I am making this a film blog, I will try not to write full-fledged reviews as much as possible. In all reality major reason for this back then, was I never thought I will have enough to say about a movie that can constitute a review - I still don't think I do - and even if I did, I wouldn't know how to put it in words in a way that someone else would want to read, which has always been my problem with everything. Fortunately since the inception of this blog, being not so prolific blogger, I have been able to keep it afloat with minimal amount of them. But after all, this IS a film blog and I don't think I can have that with no reviews. So occasionally I allow myself to fall back and go for a review. Today is one such day that I am allowing myself this indulgence. If we discount the occasional mini-reviews post which is usually my escape route from not being able to write enough but coming across something that deserves to be mentioned and monthly wrap-up posts, this is my first review in almost two months and one before that was almost another two months back.

After Amour(2012) and A Royal Affair(2012), today's movie in focus - No(2012), is third movie that I have seen of this year's Foreign film line-up. It is worth mentioning that A Royal Affair was the last review I wrote. I guess I am more drawn to the foreign movies though in reality I see very few of them. So, No. Chile's submission to this year's Oscars and now, a nominee. This film is set in 1988. General Pinochet has been in power for 15 years after overthrowing President Allende in 1973. Bowing to the international pressures to legitimize his dictatorial rule, General Pinochet announces a public referendum to be held after couple of months. In this referendum, people of Chile are suppose to vote either Yes or No to grant Pinochet another term for 8 more years. And to give it more democratic look and giving fair chance to both the sides, another idea of giving 15 minutes of air-time to both the sides, Yes and No, for 27 days before the election was implemented. This movie follows the 'No' campaign or more specifically it follows Rene Saavedra, the man behind this campaign. Rene is young, dynamic and upcoming ad executive who has made quite a name for himself and for that very reason, No campaign wants them to work with them. After initial reluctance, he however agrees and they start working on 27 days worth of media battle.

To tell you the truth, I wasn't exactly sure why Rene agrees to work for No. At one point very early in the movie before actual campaign starts, his boss implies his inclination towards Yes campaign. After that there is one incident involving his political activist ex-wife which didn't feel like reason enough to me but soon after that, he joins No. Before the two sides start their fight against each other, Rene also has to fight within the campaign. Most of the people in the campaign think that this referendum is rigged and they don't have much chance of winning. So they want to use this one chance they have to make as much of political splash as possible. They want to expose what an oppressor Pinochet has been over the years. They want to bring forth all his scams, his crimes, his two-faced behaviour and hope that sometime in the future, people will rally against him. Rene wants to present them as a viable alternative to Pinochet. He prefers putting out a good face to attract people rather than going all out against Pinochet. Once 27 days start, there is a very interesting dynamics that develops between the two camps. The way these two groups act and react, punches and counter punches they throw at each other is what makes this movie fascinating. My main interest in this movie being political, I certainly would have loved to see a little more political side of it though. If they win, Pinochet's opponents will have to run the country and I would have loved to see how they were planning on doing it. But I guess, Rene will not be a part of these circles which puts it outside the scope of this movie.

Directed by Pablo Larrain, this film is third installment after Tony Manero(2008) and Post Mortem(2010), of loose trilogy of movies set in Pinochet's reign. Political setting and tone of this movie is what intrigued me the most besides all the buzz it is getting thanks to its nomination. It is a very small but very important period in the history of the country and Larrain manages to set the whole table very nicely, even for those of us unaware of any background. After watching the movie, I was looking for some more information regarding this campaign and I found few videos that were actually aired in 1988 and I was stunned to see how similar they looked to what we see in a movie. It is unbelievable when you think about how much time and energy must have into making them exactly same. He covers lots of facets of both the campaigns and keeps it thouroughly engaging for whole run-time. Initial reluctance of Yes campaign to take No seriously and threats, intimidation that swiftly follows once No starts getting support, how two campaigns change each other for better or for worse is all very interesting. No also looks at Rene's personal life a little with the help of his political activist ex-wife and their son. His ex-wife's plot is probably the most under-developed plot which film touches only gingerly. They should have either took it somewhere or left it all alone.

Young and dynamic Rene Saavedra, played by Gael Garcia Bernal, is the heart and soul of this movie and as we have seen him many times before, he turns up another stunning performance.  He has some kind of unattached, 'Just another day at the office' expression but he also makes sure it isn't aloof or unaffected. His ability to work tirelessly for the cause but at the same time keep this distance from his work is probably what makes him sought after. The way Bernal catches all the undertones of this character is amazing. His boss who is interestingly running the Yes campaign is also a very interesting character. However, most striking aspect of this movie has to be the look and feel of this movie and the fact that it was a conscious stylistic choice makes it even more intriguing. After watching the movie I learned that Larrain shot the whole movie with U-matic video cameras which were used by the TV crews in the times movie is set in. It has its problems like for one thing, now-a-days that we are used to more and more better quality picture, it looks very odd. It's grainy, has very low resolution and on multiple occasions, Sun or the reflection off the nearby surface blocks half of the screen. But it gave one distinct advantage - it allowed him to use some of the actual footage that was aired in 1988. And he uses it so perfectly that you will never know which shot is real archival footage and which is not.

As far as the Oscars go, I think Amour pretty much has it in the bag. However despite not winning, I believe No serves as a great showcase for the film industry in Chile, which frankly is what I feel the foreign category in Oscars should be about. Off course, it is great if you can win but if not at least it should be seen as a platform to get people interested. Something Indian authorities should take note of, as looking at the movies that are sent in recent years, I don't think is high up in their priorities.

Rating(out of 5):

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