Rashomon (1950), Akira Kurosawa

Philosophically profound as well as thematically challenging, Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 Rashomon touches not only on cinematic history and the confluence of Eastern and Western traditions, but also on the age-old and important matter of the nature of truth and its elusiveness.

rashomon-2Forget for a moment that this film revealed to the world one of the greatest masters of cinema, or that its title became a common term to describe contradictory interpretations of a single event. For now, just give a passing thought about truth, its nature and how elusive it really is. Kurosawa’s choice to tell lies reinforced by images that suggest the truth already elevates the movie to a different level of philosophical depth. Rashomon [Rashômon] is indeed a true masterpiece. Continue reading

The Deer Hunter (1978), Michael Cimino

Sandwiching the horrors of war between two dramatic opposites within a three-act story, Michael Cimino’s 1978 The Deer Hunter – a truly compelling tale of friendships gone awry – is the film which surely helped to propel the careers of its superstar actors to the stratosphere.

the-deer-hunter-2By the end of The Deer Hunter, when these close-knit friends sing ‘God Bless America’ around a bar table – longing for the safe haven of the past – they have been through a poignant arc in their lives. Though the three men who left for Vietnam somewhat return home, only one of them stays halfway sane; the other two are either dead or reduced to a traumatized child. During the movie’s three hours, these people mature so dramatically, almost becoming different men and women, as to infuse the picture’s last scene with so much ambiguity. Continue reading

Margaret (2011), Kenneth Lonergan

A philosophical hornet’s nest which gradually gets stirred up, Kenneth Lonergan’s 2011 Margaret – a film with fine shades of right and wrong – accomplishes in three hours what most of us never do in a lifetime, i.e. it acknowledges the blurred line between the good and the bad guys.

margaret-2Oh life, what a messy business! Some argue that Margaret shares plenty of the same chaos – uneven and brutally unfocused, this three-hour mess of a movie can’t hold on to its emotional core. To me, this is exactly what makes the picture an accomplished piece of film-making. Part of its geniality is this ability to expose life as it is: random and chaotic. As she herself realises, the film’s main character’s ethical dilemma does not stop the world from spinning… Continue reading