Monday, September 30, 2013

The Shop On Main Street ( Czechoslovakia - 1965 )

Language : Slovak | Director : Jan Kadar, Elmar Klos | Starring : Ida Kaminska, Jozef Kroner | Country : Czechoslovakia | Year : 1965

When you talk about World Cinema, it's hard to miss World War-German-Jew plot films, particularly movies made in Europe. The Shop On Main Street, falls in this genre. Here, we don’t see the suffering or war terror, but the innocence and guilt takes a pivotal plot. Directed by Jan Kadar and Elmar Klos, this Czechoslovakian film was released in 1965. This film went on to win the Best Academy Award in Foreign Language category in 1966.

The film is set in 1940’s, when Nazi troops occupy Czechoslovakia. Tony Brtko, a jobless carpenter, living with his nagging wife in a small Slovakian town. 

Tony being an Aryan race, his brother Marks, who is a Nazi town commander, gives him an opportunity to serve as a “Aryan Administrator” in a Jewish Shop as a part of Aryanization program. Tony’ wife thinks this will bring them prosperity. Tony goes to the shop, only to find there isn't much business and the shop owner widow Jewess Mrs. Lautmann is nearly deaf old woman, who cannot comprehend the real world happenings and clueless.

1st Left- Jozef Kroner as Tony
When Mrs. Lautmann couldn't understand Tony’ position as an Aryan Administrator, Tony upon the advice of Kuchar, a Jew sympathizer, agrees to  act as a distant relative to Mrs. Lautmann. The local Jewish community requests Tony not to quit the shop, fearing someone else will be appointed as a Aryan Manager.

As days pass, Tony Mrs Lautmann develop a mother-son relationship. When the time arrives for the Nazi troops to take Jews to the concentration camps, Tony tries to save her. He manages to hide her in the shop, but the old woman becomes irritated and restless by the act of Tony, who is trying to prevent her going out. In this struggle, already drunk Tony pushes her into the closet; only discover later that she is dead by the impact. Now, Tony, with the guilt taking on him, with the one who he was trying to save is killed by himself. He then decides to take his life and hangs himself.

Tony and Mrs. Lautmann

A very simple story with lighter moments, except the surprising ending is told in a very linear way, there is no usage of complicated dramatics, nor new or old wave, no film noir, but just plain content with good music. The use of violin in the background score creates fear and doubtfulness.

Who owns this film?

In 1990’s after the fall of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia was split into two- Czech and Slovakia. They can divide the land, but couldn't divide the film, which is regarded as the best. Film critics and viewers still argue which side the film is closely associated and the argument continues, ironically reflecting the essence of the film itself.


Lalu Framed

Digvijaya Singh says Lalu Prasad Yadav is framed, does he mean by this ??

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Report on the Party and the Guests ( Czechoslovakia, 1966 )

Language : Czech
Director : Jan Nemec
Starring : Ivan Vyskocil, Jan klusak
Country : Czechoslovakia
Year : 1966

Let us jump into the plot first and then you can decide if you want to continue or close this window.

A group of seven, four men and three women are picnicking in the woods. Nearby to their place, they see a group of people. Initially, they think it’s a wedding party, but it is a group of men, who act in a kind of weird way. These men are not the kind of hilly billy or zombie or cannibal kind of people; they are dressed well, mostly in their business suit.

Later we learn the group is led by a man named Rudolf. These men take control of the picnickers; almost jail them in a non-existent room!, the room boundaries are drawn in the sand and stones are kept to symbolize the door!.

Demarcation of a room/jail cell 

When one picnicker tries escape, he is caught and tossed in the air just like what they do to a football manager after winning a match. Among these chaotic activities, there enters the man (Ivan) who identifies himself as the “Treater” of the party and the one who recently adopted Rudolf

He apologizes to the picnickers for bullying them. He then invites them to join him for the banquet, as there is a wedding and also a birthday celebration.

Treater, Ivan in the center with the guests

Ivan takes the picnicker’s to the lake side, a grand arrangement made for the banquet, and there are more guests. Suddenly, one of the picnickers discovers that her husband has left the party as he disliked the people here. The Treater, Ivan is disturbed by this activity of the guest, who left without saying a goodbye. 

He and his men, with their dogs go into the woods to track down the escaped guest, leaving picnickers alone in the lake side. The film ends here, when the picnickers turning off the candles as per Ivan’ request and the horrific barking of the dogs in search.

Political Satire?

If someone, like me, who is not from the same region of the film and also when the film is made some fifty years before had to dig deep to find out what the film is about?.

Certainly, the above story is not an everyday story we see or hear, the way in which the hosts of the party acts are bizarre and weird. There has to be some hidden meaning. Prior to viewing this film, I saw “The Shop on Main Street”, it’s a movie about fascism entering into Czechoslovakia, which was appreciated by the newly formed communist government, released in 1940’s. This party-guest film was released in 1960’s, which was banned by the communist government. So, I can connect some dots, but not all.

Jan klusak as Rudolf

Picnickers as Czechoslovakia. Living in peace with a democratic government.

Rodolf as Facist Germans entering into Czehoslovakia. Creating havoc and disrupting the lives of the people.

Treater, Ivan – Enter Soviet Union, by seeding communism in Czechoslovakia. Act as a savior of the people, but eventually trashing and hunting them down with their socialistic ideologies.

Is this kind of Animal Farm by George Orwell. May be !

Trailer - Snapshot of the film


Things are moving thick and fast in the Indian political theater. 

The action is shifted from Narendra Modi to Rahul Gandhi. RahulG was in a perfect state of slumber, in fact he was lost in the limbo, just like in the movie Inception, he was in his fifth dream and then he went into the limbo. 

Then all of the sudden he realized something or somebody has given him a “kick”. He woke-up and said “.. this ordinance is non-sense..”, I thought he is thinking this as Sep-2014. Annachi, we are still in Sep-2013, it is a pre-election year. He might have thought it as Sep-2014, where they won’t in power!.

This has to be a perfectly orchestrated drama by the RahulG team. In Tamil, there is a saying, nan adikuramatri nadikuren, nee azuvuramatri nadi. I hope that the dynastic politics doesn't get along in the next elections. This is not good for the country, especially if it is RahulG, a BIG NO.

Now, what ( who ) is going on the other side, Narendra Modi. The chest thumping, Gujuji, who is labeled by a section of media and his followers as the savior of India. 

He is portrayed in such a way that India is worst performing country when compared with Uganda and Afghanistan. Considering global economic conditions, India is playing a decent game. We don’t need a one-man savior. Modi, is too charismatic to become a PM of India. A mute box like MMS is good than to have a chatter box NM

With BJP already split into pro-against-Modi groups, they won’t find any consciousness to form a government, if there is a hung verdict. I doubt Modi can’t get along with other parties, as Vajpayee did, except few like MNS and JJ.

When Democratic politics doesn’t play well, Dynastic and Dictatorship takes a lead role. All D’s.

But, never knew, as Gounder said “Arasiyal iduellam sadarnammapa”.


The biggest game changer in the Indian electoral system is the NOTA, None of the Above. ??? There are several question marks, it’s a good move to secure the privacy of the voter, who doesn't wish to vote for anyone, but apart from it this NOTA is a cruel joke.

As per the former Election Commissioner, “Even if 90 voters in an electorate of 100 persons press the NOTA button, the poll will be decided in favor of the candidate who gets the maximum of the remaining 10 votes" . The math and reason doesn't go along well here. So if 50% of the total voter mark for NOTA, then every candidate in that constituency should be scrapped and fresh nominations should be held. 

The netha's will ask, what if this situation is in more than 300+ constituencies. ??


I’m the one who has faith in our system, who can travel to and fro for 15 hours to cast my vote. On some occasions (elections), when I don’t know whom to choose, I will vote for an independent candidate. Most of the time, this independent candidate will get only a single digit count, he/she must be puzzled of it !

800 Balas ( Spain, 2002 )

Language : Spanish | Director : Alex de la Iglesia | Starring : Sancho Garcia, Luis Castro | Country : Spain | Year : 2002

What is Bala ? That too 800 in number ? I know few Bala- Bala Chander, Bala Murugan and some Bala-jis. Let me cut it, Bala in Spanish means bullet, not the one which our mama rides, it means “bullet” used in guns.

Luis Castro as Carlos
There is no second guess, if it's about bullet-guns then this has to be a western genre film, yes this film is a spaghetti western, but this is not like a tight-lipped, Toscani-cigar smoking Clint Eastwood kind of film- In fact it’s a film about Clint Eastwood’ double !. 

Yes, Julian Torralba, who was once the double for lead Hollywood actors like Eastwood is a stuntman in Almeria, Spain. The story is set is present-day Spain, with no more westerns made by the Hollywood, these stuntmen are confined their stunt-shows as daily entertainment.


Sancho Garcia as Julian

Carlos, son of a wealthy business women Laura. She is looking for a good sunny real estate to build a theme park. While shifting to a new home, Carlos, stumbles upon his deceased father photography, he then learns from his granny that his father was a stuntman, he was killed in an accident, his grandfather Julian still runs a show named Texas, Hollywood in Almeria. 

Carlos then sets off to Almeria, only to find that Julian runs the show for a minuscule foreign tourists and he is in the verge of breaking the business. 

With the sense of adventure taking in, young boy Carlos also starts to perform with Julian. Laura then finds Carlos with Julian and sees an opportunity that Texas, Hollywood will be a suitable place for her theme park. 

Julian’ boss sell the land to Laura, this is opposed by Julian and his men, as this place is their only lively hood for them. So they try to fight it out with 800 bullets. The film ends with the stand-off between the cops and Julian’ men, which ends with Julian losing his life. 

The film is full of funny moments, raw and rough western film or at least they pretend to be in a spaghetti western, when I say “pretend”, as per the story, except Julian no one had acted (doubled) in any kind of film.

This is a good leisurely enjoyable foreign language film to watch.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Machuca ( Chile - 2004 )

How small lives can be affected when there is a chaos or to say how small lives are affected by big-brainy ideas- communism and capitalism. 

Language : Spanish
Director Andres Wood
Starring : Ariel Mateluna, Matías Quer, Manuela Martelli 
Country : Chile
Year : 2004

Movies with the backdrop of political history, always absorbs me. I get thrilled to watch a movie which has a thin line of politics in background. 

Machuca, is one such film, based on the Chilean civil war, which is followed by the military coup. But, when you see the posters of this picture, you won’t feel so, right? Yes, this is a sort of a coming-of-age mixed with politics. What will happen to a friendship between two kids from different classes of society, when the rest of the society is fighting for a cause?

1973, Chile is under the rule of Salvador Allede, a Marxist government. The country is under a civil war, capitalist Vs communist. Gonzalo, an upper class kid, is studying St. Patrick English School, one of the finest in Santiago. 

Father McEnrow, who runs the school, is more leaned towards socialistic ideas. He admits under-privileged kids from the near-by ghetto to study in the school along with the upper-class kids. Here is where Gonzalo meets Pedro Machuca. They instantly gel together, Gonzalo, experiences the ghetto life and so Pedro sees how lavishly Gonzalo and his family lives. Gonzalo, befriends Silvana, a neighbor of Pedro, she is assisting her father in selling flags and cigarettes in demonstrations.

Ariel Mateluna ( Pedro Machuca ) and Matías Quer ( Gonzalo )

Little bit of innocent romantic making-out runs in between, Pedro-Silvana- Gonzalo.

With the civil war at its peak, the demonstrations turn into violent protests. The country’ President Salvador Allede kills himself. Military takes over the country. Rules are changed, communists and their ideology is trashed. Father McEnrow is expelled and so are some students. 

In the midst of this disorder, Gonzalo goes see Pedro in the ghetto; there the military is ransacking the ghetto for siding with communists. Silvana is shot dead, when the military tries to expel them. Horrified by seeing this Gonzalo is pulled by a solider, who asks him to get into the van. To escape from there he uses his upper class symbols like the expensive shoes, dress and his hair style to this soldier and virtually disowning their friendship. While no change or harm in Gonzalo family life-style, he returns to see only a deserted place where Pedro Machuca and his people lived.

The film doesn't go preach, nor doesn't it say who is right or wrong. It just presents, how small lives can be affected when there is a chaos or to say how small lives are affected by big-brainy ideas- communism and capitalism. 

Directed by Andres Wood, the film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in 84th Academy Award, but didn't win it. According to IMDb user, lm_amethyst74, the movie depicts the realistic version of the time of 1973.

Notable Dialogue from the film.

Pedro’ Father (pointing Gonzalo to Pedro): Who’s that ?Pedro: A Friend
Father: A friend, right. Some friends you have

Father: In ten years, your friend here- will be working at his daddy's company.
Father: And you'll still be cleaning toilets.
Father: In 15 years, your friend will own his daddy's company. And you? Take a guess.


Check out other Spanish Language films in FilmBulb

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World ( USA - 1963 )

The big daddy of Hollywood comedy                                                                                           

Director: Stanley Kramer
Country: USA
Starring: Spencer Tracy and loads of stars
Genre: Comedy
Year: 1963

If you haven’t watched this film, then you are definitely missing something in Hollywood. One of the longest titles in the world of cinema, “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” is also a longest running time, 2hr 40 mins for a comedy genre and the list of star-cast is endless with various yesteryear stars appearing in cameo.


The films starts in Mojave Desert highway, old-timer robber Smiler Grogan crashes off the highway into a cliff, he is tailed by the police. 

Four vehicles stop-by to assist him, but Grogan is severely injured, reveals about $350,000 cash buried under “big W” in a nearby Santa Rosita State Park in Santa Rosita. He eventually dies by saying about the money. The people who went down to help him don’t reveal this information to the police. 

Spencer Tracy as Capt. Culpeper
But the police command lead by Captain Culpeper, who is handling the Smiler Grogan case for 15 years, commands the local units to follow this people, as he suspects Grogan would have revealed something to this people. 

These mad people (see the picture below), first thinks it as a joke, but they decide to take a shot, by seeing the greed in others. Before travelling to Santa Rosita they try to divide the money, but they can’t settle for a way to share, when money-greed kicks their head. So all decide, everyone should do what is best for themselves and starts their mission to travel to Santa Rosita in an absolute craziness.

With 28-mins gone in the above mentioned story, the film kicks-off with the perfect cinematic timing of jumping into the 2nd part of the script.

Four motors racing each other’s in the highway. Melville & Monica charter a shabby World War I plane. They arrive first in Santa Rosita, but they are accidentally locked down inside the basement of a hardware store while buying pick and shovel. 

While Melville & Monica trying to get out of the store basement. Benjy and Dingy tries to get a plane, but their pilot Tyler becomes unconscious after getting drunk in the mid-air. Now Benjy and Dingy are in the mercy of the nearby Air Traffic Controller to guide them to land.

Pike and Finch family continues to be on road. Several people get involved with them- an Englishman, Finch’ brother-in-law Marcus, motorist Otto- who dupes Pike

After an adventurous journey, everyone arrive at Santa Rosita Park to find the big W and the money. 

But Capt. Culpeper has other plans to take all money by himself and tries to escape to Mexico. Finally, foolishness mixed with confusion, takes up on everyone’ mind and all end up with broken bones.

Directed by Stanley Kramer, this film is considered as a big daddy of Hollywood comedy, which was a highest grossing film at the time. 

The film is famous for its slapstick comedy, one-liners, car-plane action sequences and stunt scenes. It is a Ben-Hur, Titanic of the comedy genre. A perfect escape to a mad world filled with greed. You can watch this anytime and many-time.