The Best of Cinema from around the GlobeShruti Shukla brings you through some fantastic films from all over the globe that you might have missed. Slavoj Žižek called cinema “the ultimate pervert art. It doesn't give you what you desire - it tells you how to desire.” Each minute and each frame of this life is deftly captured, whether it is more inclined towards reality or imagination. While history provides us with objective facts that cannot be questioned, cinema provides us with intersecting or parallel perspectives of thought, action or inaction through innumerable gazes. Thoughts and ideas presented through the skilled lens of cinema are not rigid, but questionable, debatable, open to discourses, tirades and doubts. Cinema acts as a reflection of our deepest passions, and serves as a mirror that helps one connect. Hence, cinema introduces one to the indefinite facets of being human.
“Cinema acts as a reflection of our deepest passions, and serves as a mirror that helps one connect. Hence, cinema introduces one to the indefinite facets of being human.”It’s inevitable that we take a look at an American film and one of the best from American cinema is David Fincher’s Fight Club, based on Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel. Starring Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter, the film has the potential to confuse, disturb and provoke thought in the minds of the audience. A must-watch, the film deals with an unreliable, insomniac narrator; a love interest who is a regular at support groups for testicular cancer and a mirrored image reflecting the absurd in the mundanity of daily life. The narrative captures psychology, revolution, and the growing and suffocating pressures of the twentieth century drowning those caught up in the consumerist culture. 1996 Indian-Canadian film Fire chronicles a forbidden tale of lesbian love written and directed by Deepa Mehta. It is a part of her “Elements Trilogy”, a work that includes Fire, Water and Earth. Each film reveals and explores love, partition and the inherent misogyny in the colourful setting that is India. Taking into account that it was the first film loosely based on Ismat Chughtai’s notorious work Lihaaf, that explicitly talked about patriarchy, homosexuality and the suffocating lives of women in a society that thrives on misogyny, the work becomes extremely important in the light of the recent scrapping of Section 377 in India, which was used to criminalize sexual activities "against the order of nature". The film is a must watch for its raw representation of the hypocrisy of forced values and for the brilliance of the work of Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das. The 2002 crime film City of God hails from Brazil, directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kàtia Lund, depicting a wave of violence amidst the growth of organized crime. The film held the audience’s attention by shattering the stereotypes forced upon favelas; normalcy and niches of human life were seamlessly captured in the poverty and violence-stricken slum called Cidade de Deus in Rio de Janeiro. The film is a must-watch for people capable of seeing behind the iron curtain. Revolving between the lives of the characters, it blossoms in its portrayal of hope that grew in the depths of strife and hardships. The 1985 Japanese masterpiece, Ran, heavily inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear, was written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. While the film runs along the same lines of King Lear, focusing on the ‘old man’ at its centre, chaos overtakes and makes the narrative into a poetic drama dissolving into a Shakespearean tragedy of love, loss, betrayal and poetic justice.
“The film has vibrant and diverse characters revelling in the multitude of identities slowly uncovered throughout the narrative of the film. A must-watch for people who enjoy a little drama mixed with brilliant performances by women breathing power, excellence and breaking glass ceilings in their portrayals of characters that penetrated the society’s façade of normality.”Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is the 2000 wuxia film, directed by Ang Lee. The film has won awards, critical acclaim and the hearts of its audience. The story follows a stolen sword, Green Destiny, in nineteenth century Qing dynasty while the film unfolds smoothly along with the chase. From effortless scenes of martial arts to the celebration of strong females and power, the film enamoured the audience with the insurmountable grace in every frame. European cinema has always produced many in-depth, well written and moving films. The 1999 Spanish film, All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre) written and directed by Pedro Almódovar, deals with issues of sexuality, identity and emotional crisis, faith, existentialism and a constant questioning of desires and purpose of life. The film has vibrant and diverse characters revelling in the multitude of identities slowly uncovered throughout the narrative of the film. A must-watch for people who enjoy a little drama mixed with brilliant performances by women breathing power, excellence and breaking glass ceilings in their portrayals of characters that penetrated the society’s façade of normality.Some other foreign pictures to check out are the Indian films Lipstick under my Burkha, Gulaal (2009) and Newton (2017), the 2001 Japanese anime picture Spirited Away and the 1973 Spanish film The Spirit of the Beehive (El espíritu de la colmena). It just goes to show that there is more to the art of film than the big-budget Hollywood pictures.