Manifesto

 

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Manifesto (Julian Rosefeldt, 2017)

 

Advancement of technology in film is a constant, and thus, the horizons of its boundaries as an art are also ever expanding. For the first time in my life, I really had to contend with whether a single screen theater was limiting for a motion picture. Julian Rosefeltd’s film, or more appropriately, cinematic art piece, Manifesto is a movie which was exhibited in two different forms, both vastly changing the structure and therefore the perception of the piece as “cinema”. It was first released in the Australian Center for the Moving Image in a gallery setting which showcases Cate Blanchette, playing 13 different roles, on different screens throughout the room and reciting 13 different manifestos on the idea of “art” itself. As you walk deeper, the voices of her different characters start to create a conversation or argument, or as Jane Howard put it in The Daily Review, “an unspoken stand-off”. This is an experience, a three-dimensional space which takes the 2-D cinematic image and echoes it to and from us in multiple directions. It’s a cinematic piece you literally walk through, experience as you are in motion in real time, in the real world.

Suffice to say, this is not how I personally experienced this film, and it brought about limitations and complications which again, made it clear that a single-screen theater was inadequate in showcasing the new horizons of what artists can do with the film medium. Manifesto, the 90-minute popcorn motion picture, is not much more than a long-string cut-and-paste rant. Out of the 13 different sermons you sit through, the only one which made any sense in the traditional theater setting was the news broadcast because, well, by its definition it is to be watched motionless in a single sitting. Rosefeltd’s writing is clearly passionate and clearly demonstrates a deep understanding of art history and it’s underlying philosophies, all of which are masterfully recited by Blanchette who, in many cases hams it up (perhaps the nature of the piece is to be satirical of art), but also manages to embody the writing in her movements and her biggest asset as an actress, her eyes.

 

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Australian Center for the Moving Image opening showcase of Manifesto.

 

It was clear, however, that I was watching something that begged to be limitless, not constrained in a traditional movie theater and demanded its viewers to not be sitting on their asses munching on popcorn for 90 minutes. It perplexes me why Rosefeldt would want his film to be shown in this setting after two highly-touted exhibits in Australia and Berlin which captured the essence of the project’s ambition: to create a cinema which architecturally invades us through all its forms, visual, audial, and as interaction with the viewer. If the gallery exhibit was like riding a rollercoaster in an amusement park, the theater screening which I sat through was more like someone reading me the entire pamphlet or brochure for Six Flags. Maybe this was the point. By showing the project in both areas, Rosefeldt can illuminate the limitations of the theater complex itself. If film is to enter a new horizon as and artistic medium, then Rosefeldt is claiming its current home of the movie theater is not sufficient.

Out of Memory and Time: The Cinema of Victor Erice

 

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The Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice, 1973)

As my generation trudges ever forward year by year, there is a creeping and growing sense of nostalgia that overcomes us with each passing birthday. The never-ending “90’s kid” retrospectives on the internet filled with pictures of old video game consoles, Toys R Us toys, commercials, movies, celebrities, and sports events don’t make reconciling with the fact that our childhood and innocence is gone for eternity and will never come back any easier. Is that too dark?

Nevertheless, nostalgia is arguably the strongest agent of emotion in human beings. What we’ve experienced and lived through is our deepest connection to ourselves. This is especially true for our childhood when we’re still shielded and safeguarded and it seems like life is a cool breeze of care-free afternoons, exciting summer vacations, and instant food anytime anywhere delivered by mom. The longing for the “simpler” or more innocent times is something humans do with social life as well as politics and art. How many times have you heard politicians talking about taking our discourse back “to a simpler time” before everything got all screwed up, or critics saying “they don’t make ’em [movies/tv/literature] like they used to!”. Some of these have more nefarious intentions than others, but in general, we tend to fall into line behind the idea that hindsight is twenty-twenty and the way things used to be was always in many ways ‘better’ than the way things are.

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In art, particularly cinema, this emotion of nostalgia is the most potent connection formed between filmmaker and viewer. Our longing for a particular time or place or general memory of an area or event is a human trait that great filmmakers observe and pick at with an incredible precision and good intentions. It is where melodrama, fear, joy, and pain are all extracted from and used to build connections with characters and places. A recent filmmaker who’s sparse but utterly brilliant body of work I recently became acquainted with is Spanish filmmaker Victor Erice. A filmmaker adroit in his ability to evoke a very overwhelming sense of time and place, Erice’s cinema is the ultimate embodiment of nostalgia in art.

Playing along the same wavelengths as Terrence Malick in regards to textures and themes of youth and abandonment, as well as a very personal connection to his home country’s culture, politics, and daily life, Erice’s The Spirit of the Beehive, regarded the world over in cinema circles as a undeniable masterpiece, centers around a small Spanish village in Francoist Spain in which a young girl name Ana becomes disturbed and entranced by her viewing of Universal’s 1931 adaptation of Frankenstein. A particular infamous scene in the 30’s horror classic features the monster and a young girl throw daisies into the river and the monster, fascinated by the idea of using his hands to “throw”, picks the young girl up and throws her into the water as well. She subsequently drowns and dies. The historical symbolism of this scene in the context of The Spirit of the Beehive‘s fascist Spain setting aside, the crux of the film’s power in Ana beholding this sequence comes from our own experience witnessing cinema for the first time. The first time we saw moving images in the form of a story, how were we emotionally altered by its presentation and what did it mean to us? I remember the first movie I ever watched was Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and it was the first time I truly became terrified and disturbed by a fictional character (the witch with the poisoned apple).

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As kids, one of the lessons we always learn is to “face our fears”. It is a necessity of growing up and every adult tells you it prepares you for the horrors of the real world. Many of the fears are actually much more elaborate, real world fears which we manifest in things closer to ourselves. This theme is repeated throughout coming of age tales, many times as symbolism for the turbulent political affairs of the country at the time. In Erice’s film, Ana is haunted by the interaction of the monster and girl, and the movie’s plot, though it’s really more of a loose string of painterly movements, focuses on Ana’s obsession with finally finding and confronting the monster from the film that haunts her dreams. It’s not inconceivable that Ana’s tussle with Frankenstein was meant by Erice to represent the Spanish populace’s ultimate reality of having to confront the fascist takeover by dictator Francisco Franco. Nostalgia often places these circumstances and events in a rose-tinted light. We do it all the time now in our political spheres, framing our upbringing under the Clinton and Bush administrations as times of much less political intervention despite the fact that even they were in perpetual war with foreign nations. The difference is, back then we didn’t have reason to care. Likewise, in The Spirit of the Beehive, the notion of Franco exists only in small clues such as the rationing of food, the opening scroll, the time-period of the film, and the encounter Ana has with a rebel soldier. But Ana is still very much shielded in her village from any notion of a fascist leader wreaking havoc and despair in his own country. Her preoccupation lies within her childhood experiences of make-believe, much like the young Ofelia in Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth.

 

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El Sur (Victor Erice, 1983)

While Erice’s debut was concerned with the memory of fear, his second film El Sur (English: “The South”), much greater in my estimation and much more pronounced in its ability to evoke the passage of time and its nostalgic effects, focuses on the memories of family, or in particular, father figures. Reflective of his debut, the film centers around yet another young girl, this time named Estrella, in the backdrop of yet another tumultuous time in Spanish history, the Spanish Civil War. Estrella’s father’s disappearance to fight in the war shapes her view of him as she comes of age as a young lady. Her experiences of youth with him are a constant projection in the back of her mind, and her search to finally meet him again shapes the basis of the film. Erice’s ideas of memory are deeply rooted in the characters’ own thoughts and words, but his painterly depictions of Spain play as an additional vehicle of “remembrance” as if the world his characters inhabit is a Spain of a time gone by even for them.

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Perhaps the most quintessential sequences in El Sur center around Estrella going to bed and waking up. Many conversations about her father’s past, which she has with her nanny, and conversations of the Spain from before her time are recounted as relics which shapes her present life. The ideas of nostalgia can also be many times cruel, as Estrella comments on the war and the meanness of her grandfather towards her father. Perhaps then, the fondness we feel for our past is revisiting even the less than comforting events with a fresh set of eyes and confronting them with an added confidence. As Estrella’s nanny states, “even the wildest of animals tame with age”. Perhaps it is our nostalgia that does it.

Why So Pretentious?

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Sátántangó (Bela Tarr, 1994) – another classic punching-bag of a “pretentious film”

What is the point of a movie that is 3 or 4 or more hours long and is really slowly, methodically paced? Don’t these people know we have lives? Don’t they know that the point of a movie is to keep people’s attention? Where do they get this self-indulgent mentality to act like they deserve our viewership for that long? Every time a movie is made up of slow meandering camera movements, features minimal dialogue, completely immerses itself in its own unhurried aesthetic, or concentrates on an object, landscape, or character which seemingly has nothing surface-level going for it, I can hear the thousands of people who go to the movies for their supposed money’s-worth entertainment say to themselves “what pretentious garbage”.

But what does pretentious even mean? It’s a word that gets thrown around at the drop of a hat lately. The direct easy-access, low-hanging fruit of a pickup for the lay film-goer to act like his/her inferiority complex is completely justified because the cinema they don’t have the patience to give a chance is there for no other purpose than as a high-brow exercise in showing off artistic ambiguity. Films beyond easily digestible fast-food drive-thru offerings of Michael Bay and Colin Trevverow exist solely to make us feel inferior, right? Like if we don’t “get” them, then automatically we’re deemed as lesser people. That’s clearly got to be the filmmaker’s motive right?

You don’t understand the point of Terrence Malick forgoing much of the blood and carnage and “war is hell” obviousness of Oliver Stone’s Platoon and instead trying to toggle with less obvious themes regarding soldiers in war, not as a collective, but as individuals with their own personal thoughts  in The Thin Red Line. It’s pretentious, you say, because it doesn’t play to the tunes of what we know or expect, it doesn’t give it to us straight. Instead of displaying soldiers as a singular entity or “one hero” each character has a wildly different view of their place in war. Nothing in Malick’s film is offered as an answer. If you notice, the voice-overs of the soldiers in the film are not statements, but questions.

Questions? Why are we asking questions about war, when we should be giving people answers. Because Oliver Stone’s cute little tagline on the DVD cover of Platoon, “The first casualty of war… is innocence” looks so good on a poster. It looks so good as a singular black-white umbrella term for his anti-war cinematic movement (furthered by Born on the 4th of July) that can be shared across social media by millions without anyone really thinking about it. It’s a one track mind, which is perfect because it means we have now formed an identity against war, from this one simple banner phrase. But this is true pretentiousness is it not? Applying grave importance and merit to a single sentence, an overarching term which really doesn’t mean anything but sounds like a totally solid slogan: “The first casualty of war is innocence.” Put that on a baseball cap or T-shirt and parade it around, man. You’re gonna look so insightful and provocative!

But really… The Thin Red Line is the classic example of  what the internet would deem “pretentious cinema” though, because it lasts 3 hours long and is comprised of extended sequences of soldiers questioning their own participation in the Battle of Guadalcanal. Blood is at a minimum, we don’t have scenes of a soldier screaming for his mother trying to stuff his intestines back in his lower abdomen like in Saving Private Ryan. Malick isn’t milking anything here, because he doesn’t have to. Doesn’t the opposite of pretentious mean that the filmmaker has enough trust invested in his audience that he knows, and he can be sure that we’re smart enough to get that war sucks? Do we really need to be told that through exploding organs, blood-drenched battle-fields and cutely worded taglines that people in war… y’know… die… and… uh… experience grief and loss? Are we going to call Malick’s film pretentious because presents the idea that soldiers may actually doubt themselves once in a while? That they’re not all like-minded courageous heroes who overcome all odds? They have their own personal views of war and not everyone is on the same page as each other? That when they’re actually in battle, there may be an inkling of them that isn’t sure whether what they’re doing? Is The Thin Red Line pretentious because it takes too long to watch, and doesn’t fill every sequence with some snappy, easily digestible dialogue that makes us feel like we totally have a grip on this whole “war” thing, or a rocking battle-sequence where we root for a side and hope they “win”? Are we going to point and yell “pretentious” at a movie that doesn’t treat us like children waiting to be lectured on war, but instead treats us like individuals who have our own questions to ask?

Pretentious is being used by people the same way the word “theory” was hijacked to mean “guess”. Pretentious no longer applies to just things which attach more importance to themselves than they are worth… Pretentious is now the spitball we throw at anything that may take more time to understand than we are willing to give it.

Ironically, the so-called mainstream Hollywood movies that have been coming out seem to embody every level of pretense. I just watched Captain America : Civil War and asked myself, what the hell about this movie even justifies the title Civil War? The film lasts about 2.5 hours, and maybe an hour of it is back-and-forth conversations between the Avengers making the most hollow, tumblr-post level arguments about whether their power needs to be kept in check because everywhere they went they saved people, but also inadvertently murdered a bunch as well (ATTENTION: war is hell guys… war is hell. In case you couldn’t figure that out for yourself). Not to mention that this giant epic battle of choosing sides between TeamCap and TeamIron takes place on… and airport. No, seriously, the whole thing happens on a deserted airport terminal, and lasts roughly 5 to 10 minutes . It is only in maybe the last 7 minutes of the movie where Captain America and Iron Man show any level of real, tangible animosity towards each other, where for a split second, Captain America raises his shield to slam it on Iron Man’s face, then catches himself. In 2.5 hours, this 6 second moment is the only time where I felt Tony Stark’s fear and grief over the killing of his parents, and Captain’s very-American level of nationalistic arrogance shielded as “a fight for justice”. Of course, this is erased right after when the movie cuts to the “future” and Captain America sends Iron Man a voice-mail saying “sorry”, and we’re all just supposed to act like he didn’t almost just bash the man’s face in with a metal shield… okay.

The word pretentious is closer associated to the title of this movie, Civil War (more like Civil Argument) than anything that goes on in Yorgos Lanthimos’s also recently released dystopian love story, The Lobster*… a movie that no doubt people will call pretentious because it completely subverts our idea of love and marriage into a bizarre ritual of “find a soul-mate or effectively die” that the movie gives no background for. The characters speak and behave in awkward pauses and robotic monotone dialogues on purpose, and its so hard for us to understand this level of non-conformity in our love stories that we automatically slap the PRETENTIOUS tag on it because its beyond our trying to figure out. Never-mind that the entire agenda of Lanthimos is to evade any sense of importance to his story, other than have it exist and just say “here… you deal with it”. Meanwhile a middle school locker-room argument between Iron Man and Captain America is a CIVIL WAR. Yeesh.

The Passion of Joan of Arc : Cinema becomes Art becomes Human

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The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodore Dreyer, 1928)

I watched Carl Theodore Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc two times. Once with Richard Einhorn’s “Voices of Light” music score as background, and once with complete silence. Suffice to say, Dreyer’s genius, and the utter emotional churning and heartbreak of Maria Falconetti’s magnum opus performance were resilient and just as evocative regardless of which way you decide to see this film. The Passion of Joan of Arc has many times been recounted as the moment that cinema became art. What was the most astounding aspect of this film was its absolute nakedness. With minimal dialogue, being filmed without music and with zero diegetic sound, there is pure structure, composition, framing, and acting. It is the motion picture at its bare-bones foundation.

Dreyer’s work with Falconetti is the support beam and the cement which this film is built on top of. Each scene is a juxtaposition of Falconetti’s rending pain, hopeful joy, and eternal sorrow with the world around her. As the men of the church do all they can put fear, shame and anguish into her heart, forcing her to recant her devotion to God’s mission, we sympathize on an almost metaphysical level with Falconetti’s Joan. The power of Dreyer’s depiction and his cuts between Joan’s reactions and her surroundings pierces any predisposed belief system we have for or against religion. It is a testament to the craft and film form, that Dreyer’s ability to evoke pain and empathy runs across all ideologies to tie us together and react on the level of a unified human suffering; a suffering brought about through injustice and intolerance. We root for Joan the woman, Joan the human being, Joan the martyr of ideas and beliefs and her freedome to believe. We root against a Church which represses her devotion, a most ironic injustice. All of this, seen and felt through a camera and and editing room. Carl Dreyer, with The Passion of Joan of Arc gave us a film that will transcend through time, unfettered, because it speaks to the basis of human unity, and does so with the most artistic and passionate of visions on screen. This is the power of cinema, so clear even at its earliest stages.

My Side of the Sandbox: Finland’s Film Director Aki Kaurismäki

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Film Director Aki Kaurismäki

I have maintained for a long time that I tend to appreciate and enjoy films from Central and Eastern Europeans more than I ever did from those big juggernauts of Western Europe. Filmmakers like Jaromil Jires, Frantisek Vlacil, Bela Tarr, Yorgos Lanthimos, Vera Chytilova, and Christian Mungiu have turned me inside out with their cinema, given me regard for patience in art, and an appreciation of comedy that is hard to laugh at because it is so discomforting. Their cinema is the reject’s European Cinema, the weird kids in their corner of the sandbox smelling, tasting, and flinging the sand around while the Fellini’s, Wender’s, David Lean’s, and Truffaut’s from the West build their pristine castles from it.

Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki falls into the this corner of the sandbox. Here is a very eclectic, fascinating European filmmaker, who’s films, despite being filmed outside, still seem like they are set atop an indoor theater stage with spotlights shining on the actors. Perhaps it is a side-effect of Kaurismaki’s adoration for musical stage performances. His rock-umentary Total Balalaika Show heavily relied on lighting and atmosphere, which showcased the rocking rollicking Leningrad Cowboys as deities of the Finnish musical scene. Even in his narrative films, music and performance play a major role in setting not only the mood of scene at hand, but also foreshadowing a character’s future actions. In The Match Factory Girl, each song which plays, either on radio, on a jukebox, or simply as non-diegetic background, is accompanied by the wonderfully wry facial expressions of Kati Outinen, making us anticipate her next, awkward and silent move.

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Total Balalaika Show (1994)
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The Match Factory Girl (1990)

Kaurismäki’s characters are droll and speak in abrupt one or two word answers, hardly a style that gives way to entertaining theater. The fact that M in The Man Without a Past rarely ever speaks for the duration of the film doesn’t make him any less of a theatrical character. He is a stage performer as all actors are in Kaurismäki’s cinema, and his lack of words gives way to letting us appreciate all the nuances of the scene, from its richly contrasting hot and cool colors, to abrupt patches of light and dark, to the still positions of its actors. Like a Norman Rockwell painting remastered in HD, Kaurismäki’s camera centers on people and surrounds them with an atmosphere relevant of the time and place, hinting at a satire of the social construct of contemporary Finland.

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The Man Without a Past (2002)

His most ‘traditional’ film (and appropriately French), Le Havre, has no shortage of the eclectic Finnish ‘touch’. It is perhaps even more comical to see Kaurismäki’s characters scurrying and awkwardly positioned around Le Havre, France (which he declares the Memphis, Tennessee of Europe) doing almost no talking and behaving as background furniture trying to be not be noticed rather than walking with smooth stride or charming each other with cinematic language.

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Le Havre (2011)

Finland is an interesting place because people know so little about it outside of Europe, its a country tucked away in the north east, one which the Scandinavians deny any relation to, the Russians try to ignore, and Europe in general tends to forget about. A country who’s language (of Uralic roots) is so strange, only having slight resemblances to Hungarian and Estonian, that no one outside of the country can even try to understand its grammatical structure. Perhaps then Finland, and its flag-bearer filmmaker Kaurismäki are a perfect example of that little corner of the sandbox I have come to love so much in European cinema.

Tales of Rings & Hobbits

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The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (Peter Jackson, 2014)

Its hard to put into words great filmmaking because you feel that any description our mere mortal languages could use to describe it wouldn’t do justice. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy is, at least in my estimation, the greatest trilogy ever put to film. it was shot continuously, one chapter after another, and released in 3 years (2001 – 2003). Tolkien’s masterpiece novels had come to life on the screen with imagination, haunting atmospherics, brilliant visuals, incredible music by Howard Shore, and a cast of actors who were absolutely perfect for their roles. It wasn’t just a directorial feat, there was a genuine construct in the creation of Lord of the Rings which brought all the right pieces together at the right time. One of the most important questions any film director should ask him/herself is “Why this movie now?” There seemed to be a legitimate answer to that for Jackson’s trilogy because every working part fit in with everything else. All the gears, the nuts and bolts were in place and the mechanism churned beautifully. It was as incredible a feat of teamwork, engineering, and technology as it was an incredible feat of art.

This begs the question, what could possibly have been a sufficient answer to the question “Why this movie now?” for Jackson’s The Hobbit Trilogy? Or, rather than emphasizing the now, we need to emphasize the WHY. Why did this need to be three movies? Why did they need to bring back Legolas? Why did there need to be a romance between the elf (Tauriel, who doesn’t even exist in Tolkien’s world) and dwarf Killi? Why in 3D? Why such awful dialogue? Why stretch the storylines to such thin lengths? These questions are inevitable because Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” was just one book. Moreover, it was written as a bedtime story for children. Imagine somebody taking “Jack and the Beanstalk” and trying to make three 3-hour movies out of it. Hold that thought… I think I heard Pixar’s writers whispering and nodding to each other.

The authenticity of Jacksons creations became strained, uninspired, and un-genuine with the Hobbit films. The goal was no longer bringing Tolkein’s creation to life. The goal became bringing money into wallets. There is a reason why people respected the idea of Chris Nolan being only interested in making a single trilogy for his Dark Knight films, it brought a sense of genuine interest from the filmmaker himself in the project. With restricting himself to 3 films and developing them through a deep-rooted thought process in the mythology’s origins and politics, Nolan made something special. Jackson did too, when he made Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit was something Jackson was sort of consorted into. There were several other filmmakers interested in the project, but a fan-poll online and several petitions coerced Jackson into considering himself as the eventual helmer. Since then the series went from 1 film to 2, and then finally 3.

The Hobbit Trilogy is good in parts, it shows creativity and ingenuity in taking dark subjects and translating them into a more kid’s themed ride. Desolation of Smaug was for me, the best of the trilogy because it employed what Jackson does best… action set pieces, adventure sequences, and one on one battles. The entire movie worked as a roller-coaster ride and much of the emotional cheesiness was left out. For Lord of the Rings, dialogue and emotive sequences between characters worked because it was based on the depth of Tolkein’s mythology and his character interplay. In The Hobbit novel, the dialogues are sparse and the narrative moves rather quickly, so to fill sequences with characters talking to each other in the movies would be repetitive filler. This is where Battle of the Five Armies falters for the most part. Much of the movie is taken from ideas outside of the book. Most of the dialogue and the narrative in general was simply a combination of Jackson’s own filler material and something the studios taped together to make a “riveting finale”. It was clear from the get go that there wasn’t really enough material left for the filmmakers to make something dense, so instead we get a string of inspirational speeches, characters just looking at each other with big beady eyes and fight scenes. The fight scenes are the only thing out of these which felt authentic in any way, but even as times passed and I had to sit through endless sequences of literally the same thing happening over and over again: somebody drops their sword, about to get killed, but boom… another character comes in to save them at the last second. Who the hell is ever surprised by this anymore? Who finds this exciting? I was surprised myself to find a film with such a hyped up and large battle scene to be a chore and a slog to the finish line.

In the end, it was clear with Battle of the Five Armies that Jackson had no other goal than to make this another Lord of the Rings trilogy, when it was clearly meant to be something else. He tried to make a 5 course meal out of ingredients from a vending machine when really, this would have worked better as an afternoon snack. Makes you wonder how good The Hobbit could have been if it were just ONE movie.

The Canon

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Duvidha (Mani Kaul, 1973) – A seminal piece of the Indian Parallel Cinema Movement

You would imagine that coming up with a Film Canon for Indian cinema becomes relatively easy when you eliminate altogether the major film industries that exist in the country. Of course everyone knows of Bollywood, but when you take a look at the others be it Tollywood, Kollywood, Mollywood, or any other painfully forced pun of America’s global film behemoth, they all function in similar fashion and produce cinema which (mostly) scrapes the bottom of the same barrel.  Alexis Tioseco said of his preference to focus solely on Filipino cinema and reject analysis of Hollywood filmmaking, “I feel no need to put myself in service of which doesn’t need it”. For a serious analysis of Indian cinema through a canon, I contend that we should “feel no need to put ourselves in service of that which doesn’t want it.” It is no secret that many of the commercial film directors who exist in the major or regional film industries do not seek nor do they approve of the discussion of their cinema through a critical or analytic eye. There is always a backlash of “we make films for the Indian masses only”, or “we make films for entertainment” and a further defense of the social dysfunction of Indian life which begs for an escape from reality: “the masses just want to go to see cinema to have fun and let loose”. Well, if we should hold these filmmakers to their word and their honor, then there is no point in wasting time/energy to hold their cinema to any semblance of a global standard. This makes our job easier in hacking out a film canon, because most of these filmmakers and their films aren’t worth discussing to begin with, and on a global platform, they would be essentially deemed as inconsequential to the film world.

That being said, I can’t for the life of me just ignore every filmmaker that has existed in Hindi cinema because there are those who’s cinema has shown to be deeply rooted in the history of film and its form, be it through cinematography, editing, or most importantly, a distinct directorial world-view. These filmmakers of course, mostly exist in the Golden Age of the 50’s and 60’s, or the Indian Parallel Cinema movement of the 70’s and 80’s and it is because of those times/movements that Bollywood even marked a chord with cinematic relevancy.  So, finally, here is a list of 15  film directors and some of their greatest films who I believe deserve the time and energy of the film critic community to be at least considered on the global platform as representative of Indian cinema:

Satyajit Ray – Pathar Panchali, Aparajito, Apur Sansar, The Music Room, Charulata, Mahanagar, Days and Nights in the Forest, The Chess Players, The Home and the World

Bimal Roy – Amol Gadhi, Do Bhiga Zameen, Biraj Bahu, Yahudi, Madhumati, Sujata, Bandini

Ritwik Ghatak – Meghe Dhaka Tara, Subharnarekha

Mani Kaul – Uski Roti, Duvidha, The Cloud Door

Mrinal Sen – Bhuvan Shome, Mrigayaa, Genesis, Ek Din Achanak

Guru Dutt  – Baazi, Mr. and Mrs. ’55, Pyaasa

Shyam Benegal – Ankur, Nishaant, Manthan, Bhumika, Junoon, Mandi, Sardari Begum

V. Shantaram – Manoos, Jhanak Jhanak Paayal Baaje, Do Aankhen Barah Haath, Pinjra

Govind Nihalaani – Aakrosh, Party, Ardh Satya, Tamas, Drishti, Drohkaal

Anand Patwardhan – Bombay: Our City, A Narmada Diary

Kumar Shahani – Maya DarpanKhayal Ghata, Kasba

Adoor Gopalakrishnan – Swayamvaram, The Rat Trap, Monologue, Mathilukal

Govindan Aravindan – The Bogeyman, Thampu, Esthappan

Aparna Sen – 36 Chowringhee Lane, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, 15 Park Avenue

Gautam Ghose – Paar, Antarjali Jatra, Yatra, Moner Manush