Nanook of the North (1922), Robert J. Flaherty

An iconic milestone in documentary filmmaking, Robert J. Flaherty’s 1922 Nanook of the North – nearly a hundred years old now – presents viewers with an almost lost paradigm of the human existence in a place, like the surface of the moon, so alien and yet so familiar.

nanook-of-the-north-2Man’s ability to endure and adapt to the harshest of regions on the planet is a mixed blessing. It is, ultimately, human ingenuity that allows whole populations to create roots and stay put in places, no matter how inhospitable they may be. Through time, this adaptability – which, in evolutionary terms, has always been beneficial for human survival – has become a liability for certain populations. People who are born in regions with extreme weather conditions must make the most of it or migrate. And yet so few of them leave their homes… Continue reading

Stalker (1979), Andrei Tarkovsky

A subtle science fiction masterpiece, Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 Stalker, this visually stunning and enigmatic film about human curiosity, spiritual fulfilment, hope and desire, goes on an existential quest, which will delight some and infuriate others in equal measure.

stalker-2The divide between plot-led and character-driven stories creates misunderstanding and hostility among film-lovers. What for one group is a nuanced and detailed tale, for another is nothing else than a boring and overlong story. What some people admire in certain Hollywood blockbusters is seen by others as mindless and bloated entertainment. A further chasm is created by a third group of films – allusive, metaphorical and imagery-preoccupied ones – made by true auteurs like Malick or Kieslowski, and especially, Russian master Andrei Tarkovsky. Continue reading

Hidden (2005), Michael Haneke

A multi-layered parable dressed as a thriller, Michael Haneke’s 2005 Hidden, delves into the historical subconscious of the European colonizer, swims at the bottom of media manipulation, and when it comes up for air, with blood in its teeth, it does not offer any answers.

hidden-2By the end of Hidden [Caché], after Georges has been terrorized by events which climax with the suicide of an old acquaintance, he lies in his bed and envelopes himself in a blanket, almost as if trying to recapture some womb-like comfort. He lies in there but probably does not have a clue who’s made that bed. We, instead, can fathom that this feeling of angst and dread haunting him is, in fact, self-inflicted. Continue reading