Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Apartment Trilogy by Roman Polanski

The Apartment Trilogy by Roman Polanski is one of my favorite trilogies. Although not a continuation of a single story in three parts, it rather consists of three different films. All the films deal with the problems within the apartment. If you see Repulsion (1965), the first movie in the trilogy, its a psychological thriller. Rosemary's Baby (1968) is a supernatural thriller while The Tenant (1976) is an unconventional psychological thriller/horror.
All the three films were critically and commercially appreciated. They helped in establishing Polanski as a successful director.

Repulsion released in 1965 was the first movie in the trilogy. It was also Roman Polanski's first English movie. The film was based around the life of Carole Ledoux(Catherine Deneuve) who stays with her sister. Carole' is seen as an introvert and emotionally troubled girl. Her only support is her sister Helen (Yvonne Furneaux).
Things take a turn when Helen goes on a holiday to Italy with her boyfriend and Helen is left all alone in her apartment. Here starts the abnormal things, horrible nightmares and strange visions. How Carole deals with it forms the rest of it. Also the murders that take place and the circumstances that led to them are shown brilliantly. And finally the end itself gives a revelation about how and why the things happened and unveils the dark secret of Carole's life.

Rosemary's Baby released in 1968 was one of its kind. The movie opens up with a couple Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) and Guy (John Cassavetes) moving into a new apartment. They are immediately befriended by the old neighbor couple. Shortly after the couple decides to have a child, things begin to go wrong. Rosemary starts to get severe pains and illusions. She gets strange dreams about her neighbours being some members of a secret cult, practicing witchcraft and the worse part is that even her husband is helping them. Things go out of hand when a friend who has some knowledge about witchcraft interwines and just before he can tell her, he goes into coma and then dies. Then Rosemary continues her research and discovers some some shocking facts about the cult needing small babies for sacrifices and ceremonies. Is she out of her mind or are the things really happening? The answer lies in the unconventional and unusual end.

The Tenant is the final movie and was released in 1976. Roman Polanski starred as the main character in it. It deals with a single man Trelkovsky (Roman Polanski) renting an apartment. The apartment's previous owner an Egyptologist Simone Choule, attempted to commit suicide by throwing herself out the window and is in hospital.
As Trelkovsky occupies the apartment he is chastised unreasonably by his neighbors and landlord for small things. Slowly he finds himself turning into Simone. Not physically but in terms of habits and other day to day things. Like he starts having the things that she used to have for breakfast, starts to smoke her brand of cigarettes instead of his usual ones, etc. The film goes on Trelkovsky getting several illusions and hardships. He goes insane, till the point that he even starts wearing a wig and clothes of Simone. The end is very different and something that one would never expect. Also a strange shot at the end which would confuse the viewer, make him/her think and bring them back to the beginning works well.

Monday, 20 February 2012

The Body Builder - 55 Fiction

His father had said that.
Body building was Jack's passion. It was like breathing for him. He picked up his usual weights and started to exercise. He looked at the crashed smith machine and that fateful event that had cost him his life."

You can curse me for wasting your time if you want. :P
This was my first attempt at 55 words fiction.
In fact it was just a thought that occurred when I was as usual sitting idle and pretending to exercise at gym today morning. A well built guy walked in and was exercising in front. Looking at him and his passion for body building I couldn't help but think of this weird story about how nothing, even death can stop him from pursuing his passion. :P

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Man AFI Dreads The Most : Dr. Hannibal Lector

Movies are always and have always been about the characters - heroes, heroines, villains, sidekicks, etc. Here I would be discussing about one great villain – Dr. Hannibal Lector. The American Film Institute (AFI) considers him as one of the greatest villains of all times.

In AFI’s list of 100 Years …100 Heroes and Villains, Dr. Hannibal Lector stands first among the villains. This epic character was created by the author Thomas Harris in his series of novels. So far the character has been featured in five films viz. Manhunter, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon and Hannibal Rising.

Dr. Hannibal Lector is cannibalistic serial killer, who enjoys eating his victims. But the appearance, nature and behavior of this man does not go with his killer image. Hannibal is a calm, clever and a well behaved gentleman. Also he has been gifted an extraordinary brain. His expertise is forensic science.

The first to feature this character was the Manhunter in 1986, which featured Brian Cox as Dr. Hannibal Lector and William Peterson as Will Graham. The movie didn’t do well at the time of release although it is considered as a cult classic now. It was based on the book ‘Red Dragon’ by Thomas Harris.

The Silence of the lambs in 1991 turned a whole new chapter in this series. It was the first movie to feature Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lector.  Judie Foster played the iconic role of Clarice Starling, a FBI trainee in it who while looking out for a serial killer named Buffalo Bill played by Ted Levine, takes the help of Dr. Hannibal Lector, who is in jail. It’s the story of how Clarice catches the killer with Lector’s help (mostly advices and suggestions) and how Hannibal Lector escapes from prison and gets free. It was based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Harris.
Even though Anthony Hopkins played the role of Dr. Hannibal Lector for less than twenty minutes he could fetch the Academy Award for the Best Actor that year.

Hannibal released in 2002, was the third movie in the movie series and second movie to feature Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector. The films continues the plot of the silence of the lambs ten years later where now Clarice Starling (this time played by Julianne Moore), who is a successful as well as criticized FBI agent is contacted by Mason Verger, only surviving victim of Hannibal Lector. Mason was a wealthy child molester who was left horribly disfigured and paralyzed by Lector after having been assigned as Verger's court-appointed therapist. This was before Lector was caught and put in jail. It was based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Harris.

young Hannibal in Hannibal Rising
Red Dragon was a prequel to the earlier two movies, The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. It dealt with Dr. Hannibal Lector when he was a free man and forensic expert helping FBI. Will Graham (Edward Norton) comes to know about his reality and catches him brilliantly. The movie later deals with Lector helping Graham catch another psychopathic serial killer nicknamed ‘Toothfairy’ played by Ralph Fiennes. The movie ends well with Hannibal Lector writing a letter to Graham in the end and the jailer informing Dr. Hannibal Lector informing Dr. Lector that a young girl from FBI is waiting to speak with him. This ends show that this would be the start of events of the earlier film The Silence of the Lambs.

Hannibal Rising released in 2007 is a prequel to all the movies in the series even to Red Dragon as it deals with young Hannibal. It starts in the closing days of World War II where eight year old Hannibal loses everything his big castle, the aristocratic family status and parents. It is not only the misery he suffers. But later some evil Lithuanian SS militiamen cannibalize his kid sister in order to save themselves from starving in front of Hannibal. This can be termed as the things which might have triggered him on such a path. The movie shows the young Hannibal eight years later as a boy and his journey of being a killer who comes back to revenge his sister by killing all the SS militiamen, who are now retired and have almost forgotten that incident.

Such is the saga of the great Hannibal Lector. You will love him, hate him, fear him and admire him. The greatest villain of all times he surely won’t be forgotten ever.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Vengeance Trilogy by Park Chan-wook

Park Chan-wook
The Vengeance Trilogy by Park Chan-wook consists of three films viz. Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003) and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance (2005). Originally these three films were not planned as a trilogy but the two films(OldBoy and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance) followed Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance as spiritual successors. Themes of revenge, violence and salvation are found commonly in these three films.
These three are Korean films but were well received and appreciated all over the world.

Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance (2002), was the first film in the trilogy.  It dealt with the kidnapping of a small girl of a wealthy businessman by a deaf-mute man, Ryu. Ryu does this with the help of his girlfriend, Yeong-mi, a radial anarchist. Ryu does this to help his ailing sister who is in desperate need for a kidney transplant. During Ryu's earlier attempt to raise money he is conned by a gang who steal his own kidney and loot him. Ryu swears for a revenge on them and later kills them.
Also the kidnapping goes wrong and the small girl is killed. Meanwhile Ryu's sister dies too. The girl's father swears a revenge on Ryu and his girlfriend and thus his quest for vengeance begins.

OldBoy (2003), the second movie in the trilogy was an epic in the history of Korean cinema.
The movie starts with a common man Oh Dae-su, who is kidnapped one night and held captive in a small motel room for the next fifteen years without letting him know the reason for it. After releasing him, he is set free to live. He meets a young chef Mi-do and things spark out between the two. Oh Dae-su is then told to find out why he was captured for fifteen years or else his new love interest will be killed.
And now Oh Dae-su begins to unravel his past at the same time killing off the people who have caused him misery all these years.The strange past and the more shocking present when merges up at the end gives a gruesome picture to the viewer and makes one to think.

Sympathy For Lady Vengeance (2005), the third film in the trilogy deals with a woman who has been in prison for murdering a school boy. She was innocent and framed by the real killer who had kidnapped her newly born daughter. After she comes out all she is wants is to get reunited with her daughter and kill the real killer, Mr. Baek. The plot she plans to kill him with the help of others she can trust and her daughter role's in it is simply awesome.
Her quest for vengeance becomes difficult when Mr. Baek learns of it. He becomes more aware and treacherous. He goes on to become so dangerous that he kills his own wife on learning that she is involved in the plot against him.
The ending of the film is so greatly done and the explanation of purity touches heart.

These three are some of the finest Korean films and a must watch for lovers of thriller genre. Language will not be a barrier when you watch it because the films are executed and portrayed so well that just subtitles would do the job. Certainly not for the people with a soft or weak heart. The violence and the quest for vengeance depicted is gruesome, realistic and breath-taking.