Showing posts from January, 2013

mini-review marathon: the old-ish Bengali films, Soumitra edition

Abhijan True confessions: I don't think I understand this film. With the exception of the abysmal Shakha Proshakha , Satyajit Ray's films have overwhelmed me (in good ways), but this Reading what other people have to say about it indicates that some find the casting of Soumitra as the Rajput taxi driver Narsingh—a cultural identification the dialogues emphasize over and over again—unbelievable, while others think he played against his delicately-mannered Bengali type quite successfully. I don't know what mid-twentieth-century Rajput taxi drivers who find themselves in rural Bengal are supposed to be like, but a question of casting seems silly. If the English Daniel Day Lewis can play Abraham Lincoln 150 years later, why can't Soumitra Chatterjee play a fictional Rajput? The man is one of India's finest actors, especially under this director, and had already shown enormous talent in three of Ray's films ( Apur Sansar, Devi , and  Teen Kanya ), so

mini-review marathon: the old-ish Bengali films, Uttam edition

The internet indicates that there is an Uttam Kumar/Soumitra Chatterjee camp rivalry. Helen above, I find the fan camp thing so irritating and tiresome. But since I have six films to discuss and only energy to write about three, here is the Uttam half of my recent Bengali viewing (Soumitra's soon to follow—never fear, Sonpapdis!). Before getting underway with the films, I'd like to recommend a resource that actually discusses in an intelligent manner some of the differences in the types of characters and films done by the two actors and thus the cultural ethos each speaks to. I'm not done with it yet (which is why I won't try to summarize what it says about Uttam and Soumitra as cultural figures), and if you are as new to the topic as I am you will probably be swamped by people and film names you don't recognize, but so far  Bengali Cinema: An Other Nation  by Sharmistha Gooptu seems a solid overview of the history of Bengali movie-making, with individual chapte

WHATAY! 2012 in review

I meant to do this, and then I was on the Tripple Eggs podcast for the same purpose (in which I discuss some of these same ideas in longer form), and even contributed a smidge to Upodcast's year-end episode, so then it felt redundant. But now everyone seems to be writing things down, and I feel left out. So. Here you go. (Apologies to Get Filmy and everyone else who did the "long, specific, and funny category names" thing already. It's too fun to resist.) Depiction of the Blight on Hindi Film Characters of 2012, aka Traffic Safety Shanghai, Cocktail , Heroine,  Talaash ,  and, I am told,  Jab Tak Hai Jaan Women Doing Stuff SO MANY WINNERS THIS YEAR, both fictional and real! Female heroes. Directors. Music directors. Writers. Festival films. Mainstream films. Younger. Older. HURRAH! The Unpopular Movie That Does Have a Few Supporters but We're Not Terribly Vocal about It, and I, for One, Do Not Need You to Love It like I Do Agent Vinod The Unpopula