Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writers: Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel
Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth
Runtime: 138 mins
Strength: Incredibly enjoyable acting and visuals, perfectly paced story, cinematography
Weakness: Might not be enjoyable to Christians who take their religious beliefs strictly and do not enjoy re-imaginations
Plot: In a world ravaged by human sin, Noah is given a divine mission: to build an Ark to save creation from the coming flood.
Review: Darren Aronofsky's Noah, starring Russell Crowe, is a sharp, ambitious film that's far more than a straightforward re-telling of the biblical tale. But to those who do not hold on too strictly to the Sunday School version of Noah, and is open to re-imaginations, this is one of the best films of the year. The Director, a self-described atheist, has described the movie as "the least-biblical biblical film ever made". Russell Crowe is splendid throughout, while Jennifer Connelly (playing Noah's wife Naameh) also has her moments, especially once the flood hits and we realize the movie is about far more than just about surviving the apocalypse. Noah, a man of righteousness with unflinching principles throughout the movie, is a gatherer in a world of hunters, living with his family in the wilderness. The rest of the Earth is
taken up by Cain's descendants, who haven't simply multiplied across its face, but chopped down its trees, dug up its ore and slung most of its animals on the barbecue. Here, sin and pollution are two symptoms of the same sickness, and this is where Aronofsky paints a strong message about the environment. At night, Noah dreams of blood and ash, and vast seas washing the world clean. These visions, he mutters to Naameh, are messages from the Creator – the word 'God' is never used in the film. Noah's narration of the creation story, from darkness on the face of the deep to the creation of Eden and Adam and Eve's great mistake is told in no more than a minute or two – and is strangely entertaining: it suggests evolution, but looks wholly miraculous. The battle for the ark as Cain present himself with his mighty army is impressive, but even more well made are the apocalyptic scenes that follow, when the water finally rises and humankind's last scraps lie twisting on high rocks before being washed away. What comes next is, if anything, bolder still, but I won't spoil the movie for you here. If you love movies for the actors in them and their dedication to developing their roles for the finest acting preformances, then this film is a must watch. But take your patience and open mindedness with you – the movie does get a bit slow at times in comparison to most Hollywood heavyweights of our time.
Reviewed by Zakir Mushtaque
STRAY DOG (1949)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Writers: Ryûzô Kikushima, Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Awaji
Runtime: 112 minutes
Plot: During a sweltering summer, a rookie homicide detective tries to track down his stolen Colt pistol.
Review: Talking about Japanese legend Akira Kurosawa's films Stray Dog (“Nora Inu” Japanese title) may not come at the top of the list. But, it definitely is one of the best works of Kurosawa – and it is probably one of his first masterpieces. Like every famous director, Kurosawa also had his favourite actor, Toshirô Mifune, who played the protagonist of many of his films. Detective Murakami is a rookie police officer whose pistol gets stolen by a pickpocket. The movie is about the frantic search for his lost pistol. Being the crippling times of post-war Japan, guns are tough to come by. It was all about Toshirô, who masterfully carries the film to its end. Lack of any strong female or child artiste supporting Toshirô to gain sympathy from the audience is a major challenge for the protagonist. But as soon as the search for the pistol begins in a hot humid post-war Japan, we immediately get engaged and feel like we are too searching for the colt pistol with Toshirô. It is ironic that a downpour breaks the heat just as the tensions in the film mounts. How "Bicycle Thief" reflected the times of post war Italy, this classic does the same for post war Japan. If you like to collect classics, and haven't yet seen Stray Dog, do yourself a favour and get your hands on it now!
Reviewed by Zia Nazmul Islam
Director: Hansal Mehta
Writers: Ritesh Shah
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Patralekha, Manav Kaul
Runtime: 126 mins
Strength: Strong acting and well developed roles
Weakness: Unnecessarily long
Plot: CityLights may not be exceptionally unusual in terms of its storyline, but Mehta's modulated, deeply felt treatment of the narrative material makes the film unfailing relevant. CityLights is the story of a couple whose rustic innocence is suffocated by the soul-crushing challenges of living and surviving in a big city.
Review: Hansal Mehta presents the immoral and dark side of Mumbai in CityLights, an adaptation of the 2013 British-Filipino crime drama Metro Manila, directed by Sean Ellis. Hansal encapsulates the rural migration, penury, exploitation and adversities in an overcrowded metropolis with utmost realism. The transformation from a social drama to a disturbing thriller is gradual, evoking myriad emotions, leaving you troubled and distressed at the plight of the couple. The shocking finale is disheartening, while the gut-wrenching images of a once-happy family leave you distraught as you step out of the auditorium.
Rajkumar Rao delivers a stunningly raw and absolutely believable performance as Deepak. The talented actor seems to be raising the bar with every film and you've got to hand it to him for stepping into the character and emerging trumps. Although Patralekhaa doesn't get as much footage as Rajkummar, it must be noted that she achieves in her very first film what many do not, even after being part of multiple films. Both Rajkummar and Patralekhaa also deserve kudos for getting the dialect spot-on. Sadia Siddique, as Manav's wife, is super, especially during the sequence when she breaks down. A sharper act comes from Manav Kaul, who plays Vishnu, a disgruntled employee of a security firm, who lures the reluctant Deepak into a maze which promises dodgy profit. There are nice cameos through the film: the owner of the security outfit is a well-judged blend of crassness and viciousness, and a drug boss lords over his empire with brutal ease. This is the world the village innocents have to navigate, and we see how lost they are, and how the city is geared towards demeaning the very poor. That poverty is powerlessness and helplessness is brought out well. On the whole, the film is one of the most captivating movie experiences of late.
Reviewed by Broti Rahman