Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Longer a Secret

The more books you read, the more films you watch, the harder it is to discover something really fresh, new and exciting. It’s been a while since a film really ‘blew my socks off’, or made me ‘think deeply’. Last night I had the privilege to sit transfixed watching a film that had me hypnotized, paralyzed and made the synapses in my brain spark away like microscopic welding torches. Most importantly it made me think about life and existence, and when the credits rolled - I sat in silence, contemplating the significance of what I had just seen.

Just released on DVD in the UK, this film beat Jacques Audiard’s French prison drama ‘A Prophet’ [Un prophète] for last years Best Foreign Film Oscar. The film I am talking about is of course Juan José Campanella 2009 Argentine crime thriller ‘The Secret in Their Eyes’ (El secreto de sus ojos) based on Eduardo Sacheri's novel La Pregunta de Sus Ojos (The Question in Their Eyes).

I can not recommend this film highly enough, as it is deeply disturbing, moving, complex, multi-layered and existential in themes, which include how can we live a life when there are passions / deeds unfulfilled? And what price do we pay for these deeds done, and those not done, and what exactly is price of fixing these unfulfilled passions and deeds. As worthy as all this sounds, ‘The Secrets in Their Eyes’ is a film that makes you question your own life; and look at the ‘nodes’ and ‘junctions’ that it contains. When we reflect over our lives, we often find times and situations that defined who we are. The film allows reflection upon the randomness of existence [as well as the cruelty of circumstance] without slipping into the arms of madness. I really don’t want to say anymore as the plot has so many twists and revelations, it is a delight to see the narrative unfold toward a jaw-dropping climax[s].

If you like your films cerebral, existentialist in theme and that stay embedded in your mind like slivers of jagged glass, then watch ‘The Secrets in Their Eyes’, [even if you dislike reading subtitles].

Here’s the trailer –

And here’s word from the British Critics

Philip French in The Observer -

There is usually, and often with justification, serious criticism of the movie voted by the American Film Academy to receive its Oscar for best film in a foreign language. It happened again this year when the international critics' anointed contenders – Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon and Jacques Audiard's A Prophet – were ignored in favour of Juan José Campanella's The Secret in Their Eyes. Well, Haneke's picture is certainly more original and Audiard's altogether harsher, but Campanella's Argentinian thriller is a film of subtlety, distinction and depth that in most other years would have made it appear a very worthy recipient. Moreover, it seems an apt choice to mark what Sight & Sound celebrates on the front page of its September edition as "The Rise and Rise of Latin American Cinema" over the past decade.

The film's subject is the obsessive pursuit of a brutal murder long after its significance has faded into the past, a theme familiar from movies as different as Anatole Litvak's The Night of the Generals and Sean Penn's The Pledge, both based on bestselling European novels. In this instance, the crime is the rape and murder of a pretty schoolteacher recently married to a young bank clerk in Argentina in 1974 when the country was on the brink of its dirty war and dictatorship.

Geoffrey Macnab in The Independent

Admirers of Michael Haneke's masterpiece The White Ribbon are likely to hold a small grudge against Juan José Campanella's The Secret in Their Eyes.
After all, Campanella denied Haneke the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film earlier this year. A few months on, that still seems a very perverse decision. However, film-making isn't a competitive sport. The Secret in Their Eyes is a fine film in its own right and deserves to be regarded as more than just the movie that spoiled Haneke's Oscar night.

The appeal of The Secret in Their Eyes lies in its lithe and mysterious quality. It deliberately blurs genre lines and storytelling styles. This is a murder mystery. It is also a love story, a drama about memory and bad faith and even, in an oblique way, a political allegory about 1970s Argentina. Adapted from the novel by Eduardo Sacheri, the film is primarily set in 1974 Buenos Aires, but with flashforwards to the present day and flashbacks.

Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian

At this year's Oscar ceremony, film critics congratulated themselves generously for having praised the triumphant Iraq drama The Hurt Locker, thus justifying our continued existence in the face of a million bloggers. Then we compounded the conceit by grumbling that the best foreign picture prize had not gone to either of the press favourites – Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon or Jacques Audiard's A Prophet – but to Juan José Campanella's little-known Argentinian noir thriller El Secreto de Sus Ojos, or The Secret in Their Eyes. I am ashamed to recall that I, too, joined in with the general air of dismissive bemusement, without having yet seen the film, an omission now rectified.

The Secret in Her Eyes isn't, in fact, as good as either The White Ribbon or A Prophet, but it is a supremely watchable, well-made and well-acted movie with a dark, sinewy sense of history: a tremendously slick thriller from a director who has worked on American TV shows such as Law and Order and House. His movie may in fact be rather closer to boxset-quality television drama than cinema. But respect has to be paid right away to Campanella's most delirious big-screen flourish: an unbroken travelling shot that begins soaring over a football stadium during an evening match, swooping down into the stands where a suspected felon is being sought, tensely following him into the lavatories and then out on to the field itself, bringing play to a halt. It looks like a mix of CGI and a colossal real-world crowd scene, with the join cleverly concealed.

I would state for the record, ‘The Secret In Their Eyes’ to join my personal list of top crime thrillers, because it is wonderful, but a warning – like does open with a very disturbing crime.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Golden Balls

Love him or hate him, Ricky Gervais certainly skated close to the edge at The Golden Globes, proving he must have balls of steel.

Before the jokes fly



Where’s the table to crawl under

Read more on how Gervais is doing his bit for Anglo-American relations

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Life Goes On

Happy New Year!

Last night while stuck in a traffic jam for a frustrating 2 hours, making a four hour road trip turn into 6 hours at the wheel; I discovered a song on BBC2’s Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie Show that I just could not get out of my head. It was one of their weekly ‘picks’, and I only caught the tail-end of it, but man, I just could not get the song's lyrics out of my mind as it bounced around inside like an echo. The problem was I missed who the band was, catching only the tail-end.
But it left its mark in my mind like a cattle brand.

Then tonight, thanks to the internet I tracked it down, as Noah & The Whale - L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. a band I’d never heard of before, but that song is so wonderful, and due out in March on their Album ‘Last Night on Earth’ - their 3rd album

Wonderful lyrics that resonate in me, and prove the power of words with existential abandon in a world turning more crazy by the day.

Life Affirming -

L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N (Life Goes On) © Noah and the Whale

Lisa likes brandy and the way it hits her lips
She's a rock 'n' roll survivor with pendulum hips
She's got deep brown eyes
That've seen it all
Working at a nightclub that was called The Avenue
The bar men used to call her "Little Lisa, Loney Tunes"
She went on almost anyone
From the hard time living 'til the Chelsea days
From when her hair was sweet blonde 'til the day it turned gray
She said :

You've got more than money and sense, my friend
You've got heart and you go in your own way
What you don't have now will come back again
You've got heart and you go in your own way
Some people wear their history like a map on their face

And Joey was an artist just living out of case
But his best word was his letters home
His standard works of fiction about imaginary success
The chorus girls in neon were his closest things to friends
But to a writer, the truth is no big deal
From the hard time living to the sleepless nights
And the black and blue body from the weekend fights
He'd say :

You've got more than money and sense, my friend
You've got heart and you go in your own way
What you don't have now will come back again
You've got heart and you go in your own way
BridgeOn my last night on earth, I won't look to the sky
Just breathe in the air and blink in the light
On my last night on earth, I'll pay a high price
To have no regrets and be done with my life

You've got more than money and sense, my friend
You've got heart and you go in your own way
What you don't have now will come back again
You've got heart and you go in your own way(repeat)