Monday, December 30, 2013

Mother of Mine ( Finland - 2005 )

Language - Finnish & Swedish | Starring - Topi Majaniemi, Maria Lundqvist, Marjaana Maijala,  | Genre - Drama | Director -  Klaus Haro | Country - Finland | Year - 2005


Let's see some melodrama. FilmBulb is still in Europe and will be there for another two or three posts. Mother of Mine, directed by Klaus Haro, is a Finland - Sweden film, set in the World War II, but as you can guess from the title, this not a war film.


At the beginning of World War II, Sweden wanted to help its war-torn neighbor Finland by offering Finnish children temporary homes with Swedish families. There were more than 70,000 "war children". On such kid is Eero (Topi Majaniemi), who has lost his father while serving the country, his mother Kristi (Marjaana Maijala) is reluctant to send him first, but couldn't risk.

Eero, is sent to a scenic seaside village to live with a family. The family is of three, Hajlmar Jonssen, his wife Signe (Maria Lundqvist) and her ailing wheelchair bound father. Eero doesn't like to stay with them, his thoughts are with his mother Kristi and on the other hand Signe-Eero relationship doesn't go well, due to the cultural and other differences. Did Eero return to his mother Kristi is the rest of the story. ?

The film starts with present day Eero, who is old now ( around 50's ), asking his mother about the war and he also informs her that there is a funeral invitation for him to attend.

My Take

The film set a debate in my mind, whether the decisions taken by Kristi at certain time was right or wrong, but I felt some were opportunistic. 

The other thing that struck me is the story, not sure if it's real, but the events are true. When you see this film you will realize that you have seen this kind of story before, but the catch in this film is to place the story among the historical event.

Locations- It's beautifully set in the Swedish countryside. The locations are like serene pictures, certainly not CGI, is it!! something like Windows XP Napa Valley desktop. The farmhouse is equally unique and so the church on the hill.

Mother and son separation scenes are touchy. The actors, particularly the boy and Signe’ performance is real good. As a good film, I felt a lump in my throat in certain scenes. Mother of Mine, in-spite of being good, it is relatively unknown in World Cinema circles. Not sure, why this film was overlooked.


Reference links-

Friday, December 27, 2013

It sounds to me like this!!

We all write blog. Wish we could take a cue from Shri. Narendra Modi on how to articulate ones feeling. 

Very expressive, sympathetic, understanding, deep soul searching, introspective- because it took 12 years of thought process.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Blue is the Warmest Color ( France, 2013 )

Adele is the major strength in this film, she is the one who puts the film on track always with her subtle variations in her expressions.

Language - French | Starring - Adele Exarchopoulos, Lea Seydoux | Genre - Romantic | Director -  Abdellatif Kechiche | Country - France | Year - 2013

The first thing that caught my attention in this film is the title (You have to believe me!!). My favorite color is blue. Long before Indian cricket team started sporting in blue, my school uniform had blue. Blue is the color which gives a cool feeling, but how can it give warmth. I still have to figure out why this title was chosen, I have to think about it, but before that I’m stuck with the wonderful performances in this film.

Film running time is 2 Hrs. 52 mins. - You might say, well… critically acclaimed films run longer and it becomes boring as these films are only for hardcore film buffs and critics. But you are wrong, I didn't go with any expectation, and I didn't get an iota of thought the film was dragging or boring. Adele Exarchopoulous as Adele is the major strength in this film, she is the one who puts the film on track always with her subtle variations in her expressions.

Simple Story telling- The way in which the story is told is simple, but not artless. There is no fancy edits, no non-linear narrative to confuse the viewer, in fact no actual background score (except for songs in party scenes). 

LGBT Issues- I couldn't see the main feature in this film is LGBT issues, but it was Adele character only. Every shot and scene revolved around her. First few minutes, I went through this uncomfortable close-up shots, but as minutes passed, I felt this is how the film is shot, extreme close-ups capturing expressions of the Adele. For example, take a look into these screen grabs, this shot is right after a major heartfelt moment in her life; she is now dancing with her school-kids, all these expressions run through her face in split-seconds (Edits!!).

Unwanted Shots- With such a long running time and the controversial theme, one might feel the film will be full of unwanted shots, but I didn't feel any shot was unwanted nor there were any sexual exploitation shots, except one, which could have be avoided or not needed.

Blue is the color which gives a cool feeling, but how can it give warmth.

The film hardly travels with other characters, even not with Emma (Lea Seydoux), who is Adele’ partner. As mentioned before, it doesn't discuss or takes us in insights of the homosexuality or heterosexuality; I felt it portrays the coming of age of Adele, from a college going girl to a matured adult.

Coming back to the title, Emma sports a blue hair color, does it mean something!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Kolya ( Czech, 1996 )

Language - Czech
Starring - Andrey Khalimon, Zdenek Sverak 
Genre - Drama 
Director - Jan Sverak 
Country - Czech
Year - 1996

It is raining Czech films in recent times at FilmBulb (A Report on the Party and Guests & The Shop on the Main Street). Kolya, directed by Jan Sverak is a Czech film, starring his father Zdenek Sverak in the lead role as Louka.

Unlike the last movie introduction Summer Palace (Where, I thought will be political, but ended up being more of sexually romantic film), Kolya, presents the human relationship and the political thoughts in a fair share.


Louka (Zdenek Sverak), around 50’s, a bachelor and a former member of Prague Philharmonic cellist is struggling now to make his ends meet by playing in funerals. He gets a proposal from his friend to marry a rich Russian widow, Nadezhda. This marriage is a sham, so that she can settle down in Czech from Soviet Russia (Remember the period is end of the cold war), he’ll get good money in return.

The marriage happens and with the money, Louka is back to his normal life. But after few days, a boy (Kolya) is dropped in his doorsteps by the medical authorities. (I think by this time you can get the story). The rest of the story revolves around the two. Did the Louka-Kolya get along with each other? What happens to them in the end is the rest of the film.

My Take

After reading the plot you might feel that this will be melodramatic, but it is not. Without revealing much, I would say the film is about how a man’ character is changed when he meets a boy ( Child ).

Incidentally, there is a connection between the previous Czechoslovakian films introduced before. Kolya rightly falls right into the line of my previous films.

The Shop in the Main Street- Portrays the emergence of German troops in Czechoslovakia.

A Report on the party and guests- A satirical story of how the Soviet Russia saves Czechoslovakia from Germans, but later puts an iron grip on the Czechs.

Kolya – The Soviet iron grip is taken off.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Summer Palace ( China, 2006 )

Language - Mandarin | Starring - Lou Ye, Guo Xiaodong | Genre - Romance | Director - Lou Ye | Country - China | Year - 2006

Last time when I tried to watch a Chinese film, I ended up by seeing a Hong Kong film, Mad Detective. Searching for a Chinese film, made in main land lead me to Summer Palace directed by Lou Ye.

The synopsis read like this ‘A romantic story in the back drop of Tiananmen Student agitation’; this line set me in watching this film. As you can see in the FilmBulb posts, most of the movies are set in war, revolution, agitation, political changes.

The other thing that caught my interest is the movie poster, which said ‘ got great female character..’.


The film starts in a small city named Tumen. Yo Hong (Hao Lei) just finished her schooling is working in her father’ store. She has a close relationship with Xiao Jun (Cui Jin). To persuade her higher studies she moves to Beijing. Through her hostel mate Li Ti (Hu Lingling), she befriends Zhou Wei (Gua Xiaodong). As days progress the relationship between Yo Hong and Zhou Wei becomes close, both are in deep love and we get a chance to see how deep they are in some intimate scenes.

Yo Hong and Zhou Wei
When the student’s agitation is in its peak, their relationship is broken. Yo Hong moves back to Tumen. After several years, we see Yo Hong living in Wihan, Central China and Zhou Wei in Berlin, Germany. Both, normally indulging in their daily activities, satisfying their physical needs but there is a void inside them as they miss each other badly. Did they unite is the rest of the story?

Li Ti and Yo Hong
One of the great female characters in recent years

My Take

Considering the story it is a long film (140 mins.). I was expecting lots of political atmosphere, but it was limited (China, I can understand). Sexually explicit scenes containing female frontal and male rear nudity dominates, these scenes were little bit of too much, but a romantic film will always come with love making scenes.

The usage of news footage to show the time travelling is a pop idea- end of the cold war, Berlin wall, handing over of Hong Kong to China.

A video clip from Summer Palace-

Li Ti character shares almost the same screen space s as Yu Hong. When both seek for Zhou Wei’ love- Yo Hong chooses a much rational and wise decision, but Li Ti takes a different decision. Yo Hong is week by her looks, but hard mentally, while Li Ti is quite opposite.

When Washington Post said “One of the great female characters in recent years”, I couldn't agree more.


Chat Transcripts from the director' interview- Click Here.

Trailer with English Subs-

**Any comments are welcomed and if you have seen this films, let me know your views.