Pather Panchali (1955), Satyajit Ray

The first movie of his magnificent Apu Trilogy (and also his debut as a director), Satyajit Ray’s 1955 Pather Panchali – arguably the most poignant and naturalistic film about childhood – seems melodramatic in tone and unfocused at times, but it knows exactly what is doing.

pather-panchali-2When Akira Kurosawa, a giant of world cinema, bows down in admiration over a filmmaker, one has to pay attention. For to be deprived of the sun and the moon means having no light or direction, day and night. The fact is that one does not really need the endorsement of a genius to recognise another genius. Satyajit Ray’s films are slow like learning curves; apparently simple, but definitively not simple-minded; fully humanistic. His films are like life itself: hard to pinpoint its meaning. Continue reading

Deliverance (1972), John Boorman

A tense action tale mingled with a horror story, John Boorman’s 1972 Deliverance showcases – through the clash of urban sensibilities and rural stubbornness – the complexities and contradictions of defending nature (itself a magnificent foe here) against human greed.

deliverance-2At the end of Deliverance, there is a question that remains unanswered: What is more terrifying, nature or human nature? Do we feel safer in highly populated urban centres or isolated deep inside the woods? Would we rather be surrounded by people and far from wild animals in the city or away from human beings and protected by trees in the wilderness? When confronted by the story of these guys, it does not matter if we are urban types or rural sympathisers. For in the film we witness the worst of both worlds. Continue reading

Sideways (2004), Alexander Payne

A road movie through the vineyards of California, Alexander Payne’s 2004 Sideways, focus on two disappointed middle-aged men, who find solace for their frustration and anxiety in alcohol and sex, before they exorcise their demons and finally find their inner peace.

sideways-2Who needs sympathetic characters when we have Miles, a flawed, insecure and egotistical man? Who needs heroic behaviour when we have the privilege of observing Miles stealing money from his own mother? If you, instead, insist on having a traditional leading man with noble intentions look no further than Jack, an actor who has peaked more than a decade ago. If you’re looking for idealism, Sideways will disappoint; for it can only offer the most caustic and painful, down to earth, real life. Continue reading