Remember that brilliant airtel ad where 2 boys from neighbouring countries play football on both sides of an international border? I was among those who were completely bowled over by the beauty of that ad. And so it was a pleasant surprise to see that concept being used in an entirely different setting in a movie. 'The boy in the striped pants' directed by Mark Herman is an adaptation of a novel by John Boyne. The movie is set in the horrible times of Nazi Germany. It is the story of friendship between 8 year old Bruno(Asa Butterfield), the son of a Nazi army officer and a Jewish boy Shmuel(Jack Scanlon), who is inside a concentration camp. Bruno and his family moves from their city dwelling to the countryside. The new mansion is situated in a lonely picturesque place with a 'Nazi concentration camp' nearby, where Bruno's father is the commander. Bruno feels lonely in the new place. He sees the concentration camp from his window and mistakes it for a farm. He wonders why the strange people there wears 'striped pyjamas'. The explorer that he is, he finds a way to reach the fence separating the camp and his mansion. There, he strikes up a friendship with the Jewish boy Shmuel.
What makes this film standout is the innocent viewpoint on such a horrible thing as a concentration camp. The scenes where the Nazi tutor teaches Bruno and his sister provides many such occasions of innocence. When his sister reads a lot about the troubles caused by 'the jew', Bruno wonders, 'I don't understand. One man caused all this trouble?'. Also, the way he describes the smoke that rises from the gas chambers doesn't make you think that people are actually being roasted inside those chambers. Bruno's mother Elsa (Vera Farmiga) fits in easily into the role of a wife who disagrees with her man's inhumanly work. Another cameo role is that of Pavel(David Hayman), a Jewish man who's treated as a slave in Bruno's household. The scene where he treats Bruno's injury and reveals that he's a doctor is notable. The scenes between Bruno and Schmuel are the highlights of the film. There is another scene where Bruno happens to watch a propaganda film on concentration camps, which shows the camps as heavens on earth. Bruno later realises thats not the case. All this builds into a shocking climax. Don't miss watching this gem.
1. October sky
Are you short of inspiration at any point in your life? Then, October sky is the perfect pill. Directed by Joe Johnston, it tells the real life story of Homer Hickam(Jake Gyllenhaal), the son of a coal miner who ends up as a rocket scientist. Coalwood is a town in US where all the male population works in coal mines. They don't have dreams or aspirations beyond that. Its around this time that the Russians launch the Sputnik satellite. The sight of this moving gracefully over the october sky stirs up big dreams inside Homer Hickam. He joins hands with the geeky Quentin(Chris Owen), a guy whom everybody else keeps at a distance, and plans to make a rocket himself. He has his 2 friends Roy Lee and Odell for company. Their venture hits a lot of roadblocks at first but they persist and in the end succeeds in building a flyable rocket. Their science teacher provides them with constant support. At this point, Homer's dad comes into picture. He wants his son to end up as a miner like himself and finds Homer's pursuits worthless. The emotional tussle between dad and son are beautifully picturised. Infact, it reminded me of those classic scenes between Thilakan and Mohanlal in the malayalam movie 'sphadikam'. The rest of the film chronicles how Homer and his friends pave their road to victory. The climatic scene will uplift you with its sheer warmth.
After Memento and The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan is now a world renowned director who is known to make his movies with a reasonable load of intelligence. But, the first flashes of brilliance occured way back in 1998 in the small film called 'Following'. Just over 1 hour in length, this film is also non-linear in character much like memento. Its about a young writer who follows strangers whom he find in the streets so that he can get ideas to write his new novels. He has set certain rules for himself on who all should he follow and till when should he follow. He gets into trouble the day he breaks this by following a strange man in a black suit. The man confronts him and asks him about his intentions in following him. The man then introduces himself as Cobb, a thief. Cobb takes him as his protege and takes him for house break ins. There are some interesting scenes at this part where Cobb reveals that he steals not for the sake of stealing but to help his victims to have a re-think on their lives. So he messes up with their personal items without actually stealing it. And underneath all this lies a shocking mystery which is revealed bit by bit in Nolan's trademark non linear way. This sure is one hell of a thrill ride. Its shot on a shoestring budget with the actors and crew having regular weekday jobs. Even the balck and white was an idea for cost cutting.
PS- Going home morrow. Sunday's the big day. A.R.Rahman Live in Concert in Calicut. Woohooooo!!!!!!!
your crusader Praveen