filmaniac

Dogville/2003/English

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Lars von Trier
Why FiC recommends?
1) Dogville is ‘one of its kind’ cinema achievement in terms of making and storytelling technique. The whole film happens on a stage-like minimal setup. This intriguing crime revenge tragedy is told in 9 chapters and a prologue
2) In an interview the director Lars Von Trier said about the film “evil can arise anywhere, as long as the situation is right”. A film to be watched studied and remembered.

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Kattradhu Thamizh/2007/Tamil

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Ram
Why FiC recommends?
1) This film is a gripping emotional journey of the protagonist, wherein each event has a point to make.
2) The film lives up to the vision of the debutante director Ram (now he is an important Tamil filmmaker) – He is able to bring out his angst against the ills of the society quite effectively without any hesitation.

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Breaking the Waves/1996/English

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Lars von Trier
Why FiC recommends?
1) A brutally realistic drama that revolves around religion, sex and obsession.
2) It should be noted that it is this film which made international star out of Emily Watson (and Stellan Skarsgård too!)
3) After successful dystopian trilogy, through Breaking the Waves Lars Von Trier started his new cinema journey of exploring human psyche.

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Blue Valentine/2010/English

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir:Derek Cianfrance
Why FiC recommends?
1) Want to understand what’s ‘Marriage on the rocks’ and experience the pain? Simple: watch ‘Blue Valentine’. It’s a beautifully done study of cycle of love (start-progress-end) through cinema.
2) Be ready for the final scene- unapologetically heartbreaking yet realistically done. It is that kind of movie which you don’t want to watch again but at the same time you can’t forget, ever!
3) Special mention of Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling for their amazing performance.

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Melancholia/2011/English

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Lars von Trier
Why FiC recommends?
1) Pick any Lars Von Trier film, the main ingredient you find is the ‘suffering’. Melancholia has a celestial touch to it. I am not sure if it can be simply tagged to ‘sci-fi drama’. It seems weirdly more than that.
2) The scene sequence in the climax deserves a special mention. It is done extraordinarily and feels dreamlike.
3) Kirsten Dunst (as Justine) has pulled off one of the most complexly written characters.

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Naayi Neralu/2006/Kannada

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Girish Kasaravalli
Why FiC recommends?
1) Not all novel-based films do justice to the original work. But Kannada director Girish Kasaravalli has a track record of giving some of the greatest film adaptations of novels. This one is no exclusion. (It is a popular work by SL Bhyrappa)
2) Eventhough the central theme is ‘reincarnation’, what makes the film thoroughly engaging is the chain of incidents around the same.
3) Right from the beginning the film grabs the audience into its own world, thanks to the cast for their realistic and captivating performance.

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Antichrist/2009/English(Denmark)

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Lars von Trier
Why FiC recommends?
1)’Transgressive’ themed films have a special seat in the history of cinema and director Lars Von Trier (LVT) has contributed a lot in this area. Antichrist is probably the best film to get introduced to LVT filmography.
2) Apart from being deeply philosophical (which is the inherent nature of all transgressive films) Antichrist has a very strange pace and vivid color tone which in its all capacity has the ability to make the viewer uncomfortable yet absorbed throughout its runtime.
Note: This is the first movie of LVT’s ‘Depression Trilogy’.

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Gamak Ghar/2019/Maithili,Hindi

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Achal Mishra
Setting: Rural
Why FiC recommends?
1) A rare slice-of-life drama coming from India, where a ‘home’ in a village acts as the protagonist. This gem of a film effortlessly pumps in nostalgia – so much so that – if you’re someone with your roots in a village, you may start feeling guilty once the movie ends! (be careful!!)
2) To see this ‘home’ stands still and witness three generations pass through it- is a heart-whelming experience yet somehow painful. In my opinion a full on 5-star film!
Note: If you’re a filmmaker have a close look into this amazing cinematography, where the film embodies three different looks in its runtime!

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Bhonsle/2018/Hindi,Marathi

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Devashish Makhija

Why FiC recommends?
1) After spine chilling debut ‘Ajji’, Mr.Makhija’s 2nd feature also follows thematically the same path to bring out the filth in the society.
2) The central plot is around the never ending ‘insider-outsider’ conflict that Mumbai has been bearing since decades. Manoj Bajpayee who is also the co-producer of the film, gives yet another stellar performance on screen.
3) This slow paced film uses only four major characters (a retired cop, a local wannabe politician, a nurse and her younger brother) but leaves behind a long lasting impression because of director’s uncompromising style of storytelling.

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Nasir/2019/Tamil

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Arun Karthick
Setting: Town
Why FiC recommends?
1) Among all the cinema genres out there, there’s a special one – ‘important films’. These are the kind of films which reveal something important about the times we live in. Nasir deserves a place in this category.
2) The film captures a day of a common man. It starts with his morning, traverses through his monotonous uninteresting day and ends with.. okay, let me not add any spoiler.
3) Personally, I didn’t like the climax of this film, but at the same time I am well aware that a climax of that sort was important for the director to tell something solid.

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Amrutha Varshini /1997/Kannada

FiC Rating: 3.5/5
Dir: Dinesh Baboo
Why FiC recommends?
1) A slow moving drama is one of the rare films made in India around the conflicts of love and its power in manipulating one’s mind.
2) Musically this is probably the best movie made in Kannada in the 90’s. If you’re a fan of Indian melody music – you’re going to like it for sure.

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Post Tenebras Lux/2012/Spanish,French,English

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Carlos Reygadas
Why FiC recommends?
1) Despite many complaints on this film that – ‘it’s a very personal film from the director which has nothing to do with the viewer’, it is one of those very few rule-breaking cinemas to have redefined ‘what a cinema could be’.
2) Yes! it demands a lot of patience from the viewer. It’s not because there’s nothing happening through the length of the film which someone can easily comprehend, but because of its sheer exploratory style.

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Naked/1993/English

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Mike Leigh

Why FiC recommends?
1) It was controversial when it released because of its raw portrayal of very human nature through it’s protagonist Johnny (amazingly performed by David Thewlis).
2) The film is filled with scenes which leave the audience confused with some magical mix of fun, pun and philosophy. It’s a great ride, you just have to stick to it.

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Force Majeure/2014/ Swedish,Norwegian

FiC Rating: 53.5/5
Dir: Ruben Östlund

Why FiC recommends?
1) Some movies are not for reviewing, they just have to be watched and experienced. It’s difficult to write about such experiences. This movie is a slow poison, but once it levels upto the neck, there’s no going back!
2) The intelligent script puts you in dilemma whether to laugh or cry. Some say it’s a slap to male ego, some say it’s a pure portrayal of innate human psyche. Whatever it is about, it’s a delight for the audience!

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Sulemani Keeda/2013/Hindi

FiC Rating: 3.5/5
Dir: Amit V Masurkar
Setting: Urban

Why FiC recommends?
1) The story of two friends who are trying their luck as script writers and hoping to make it big in Bollywood films. A very simple story yet very engaging.
2) Through pun and satire, the director wants to tell the world how absurd and unstructured the film industry usually runs in India.

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Gummo/1997/English

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Harmony Korine
Setting: Countryside
Why FiC recommends?
1) When Gummo was released in 1997, New York Times wrote ‘Worst film of the year. In 2017 Nic Castillon of Daily Emerald wrote justifying why Gummo is one of best films in 20 years. So Gummo is definitely not an ordinary film. It has got equal attacks and praises in its kitty.
2) The film is a true indie production where the entire focus is on telling the misery of an american tornado-prone village. Camera (most of the times the handheld one) is just an ‘eye’ here. You won’t see any filmschool techniques. No definitive storyline, plot etc. But it is stuffed enough to hit you hard. Just that one has stick to it and enter the shoes of the people living there.

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Dancer in the Dark/2000/English,German,Czech

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Lars von Trier
Setting: Suburban/Small-town

Why FiC recommends?
1) Cinema fraternity should thank those few directors who bring in a sudden new dimension to cinema possibilities. Writer-Director Lars Von Trier belongs to that group. Dancer in the Dark is yet another gem in his filmography.
2) What to say about Bjork! A lifetime performance as an actor and as a music composer (and singer) a soul squeezing contribution.
3) Not an easy watch! better keep some tissues for the tears. The movie is intentionally tailored that way!

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Only God Forgives/2013/English,Thai

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn

Why FiC recommends?
1) This film like a marriage between violence and color(neon) giving birth to hallucination. Each of these elements keep on trying to dominate over each other through the entire length.
2) Silence is used as solid screenplay tool to create an intentional void between scene expectation and scene delivery. Many complain that this film is pretentious; but nobody can deny the unique style it has got!

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Castle of Dreams/2019/Iranian

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Reza Mirkarimi
Setting: Rural/Road

Why FiC recommends?
1) In this heartbreaking family drama, the evolution of the character ‘Jalal’ as the film progresses is worth studying. To say that the movie is about fatherhood would be erroneous because it is far more than that. It is in fact atypical to regular fatherhood movies.
2) Most part of the movie happens in a moving car, yet this doesn’t hamper the frequent revelations that keep happening at regular intervals, levelling up the pace of the film. (It has grabbed several awards for its solid screenplay).

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An Elephant Sitting Still/2018/Mandarin

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Hu Bo
Setting: Town

Why FiC recommends?
1) Some films are pure bliss and they carry some massive magic power of injecting some sort of ‘awakenings’. This is where cinema as a medium proves itself to be more than mere bunch of entertaining images. This film easily joins this league.
2) This deeply moving four hours long film is wrapped by a unique cinematic style tone. The bluish tint proves its worth here.
3) Yu Zhang’s (as Yu Cheng) characterization is stunning and he surely has given a solid justification to that role.
Note: It’s Hu Bo’s first and last film. He committed suicide soon after the shooting of this film.

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Ankhon Dekhi/2013/Hindi

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Rajat Kapoor
Setting: Rural/Town

Why FiC recommends?
1) This movie is a life lesson told very beautifully and effectively. A poetic, philosophical, whimsical in narration yet not preachy! This is an amazing piece of work.
2) The protagonist (a common man) develops himself a theory of ‘believing only what he can see with his eyes’. He takes it very seriously and sticks to it. It may sound funny- but watch the movie- it isn’t!

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Dhobi Ghat/2010/Hindi

FiC Rating: 3.5/5
Dir: Kiran Rao
Setting: Urban

Why FiC recommends?
1) When it comes to Indian Cinema, not to exaggerate, Mumbai (Bombay, previously) itself serves as a genre! Even a fairly decent story when coupled with Mumbai as the setting, it becomes something special. Dhobi Ghat isn’t an exception.
2) Film carries four characters with different background and all of them trying to find themselves in the city of dreams.

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Black Friday/2004/Hindi

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Anurag Kashyap
Setting: Urban/Suburban

Why FiC recommends?
1) Making political films based on real incidents was not bollywood’s forte when this film was made in 2004. It was banned by Indian govt for 3 years before it got clearance in 2007. It is hard hitting and very realistic presentation of 1993 Mumbai blasts.
2) The casting is spot on and screenplay is just flawless and films keeps you on edge of your seat till the very last minute.

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Titli/2014/Hindi

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Kanu Behl
Setting: Suburban

Why FiC recommends?
1) There exists a suburban attached to every city which keeps reminding the society about the class-divide in the cities and the unjust that some people have to bear. For them crime looks different. Titli, in a nutshell is about this issue.
The film maintains a constant tension throughout and it keeps on increasing as the movie progresses. The casting and the BGM add onto the tone of the film so well and accelerate the grittiness.

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B.A.Pass/2012/Hindi

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Ajay Bahl
Setting: Town

Why FiC recommends?
1) To just tag it as an erotic drama would not do justice to the kind of film it is. It’s lot more than that.
2) Each character has been tailored so carefully that you connect with each one of it. It is a daring portrayal of the vulnerabilities of adolescence.

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Lucia/2013/Kannada

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Pawan Kumar
Setting: Urban

Why FiC recommends?
1) The way a film built may not be an important factor for recommending a movie. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that this well made multi-genre movie is a crowd funded project (which I’ve not considered in the rating).
2) This non-linear film tries to cover a lot of things in 135 minutes. It is about the other side of ‘stardom’, love, urbanization, Film-mafia, drugs and euthanasia.

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Peepli Live/2010/Hindi

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Anusha Rizvi, Mahmood Farooqui
Setting: Rural

Why FiC recommends?
1) Satire is a difficult genre. It’s delicate but when curated properly in a film, it just beats other genres. Peepli live is a film to be studied in this regard.
2) It addresses multiple formal and known issues as a country we’re facing. That too how? This amazing screenplay starts as a comedy plot, starts growing – it steps into politics & media, then it makes you sympathetic- it steps into poverty and innocence of people in that drought hit village, by now you start empathizing with these people. It’s a pure win to a cinema as a medium.

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Masaan/2015/Hindi

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Neeraj Ghaywan
Setting: Town

Why FiC recommends?
1) The film is about conflicts. Conflict between life & death; conflict between to be or not to be; conflict between loving someone and letting them go. Movie doesn’t conclude what is right and wrong. That’s where the film wins big time.
2) Superb casting and simple screenplay makes the film run so smoothly that you get immersed into its own zone.
Note: Masaan means ‘Cemetery’

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Lunchbox/2013/Hindi

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Ritesh Batra
Setting: Urban

Why FiC recommends?
1) Watching Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a steadily growing cinema like this is a real treat.
2) The storyline is totally atypical to what is normally seen in even well accepted Indian films. The film is amazingly captivating in terms of how it takes both its story and characters together, keeping ‘life in Mumbai city’ at the center.

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Gulaal/2009/Hindi

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Anurag Kashyap
Setting: Town/Rural

Why FiC recommends?
1) Gulaal is stuffed with multiple things – cast politics, youth exploitation, love betrayal and also the doomsday poetry. How? watch the film. Thank Piyush Mishra and Anurag Kashyap later.
2) It’s intense & brutal from start to end, it is as restless as the characters in the film are. So the characters of the film nicely fit into the film.

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Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota/2018/Hindi

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Vasan Bala
Setting: Urban

Why FiC recommends?
1) It’s a laughter-capsule cinema. From the very beginning you’ll understand it’s going to be a fun ride.
2) The cliches here are intentional, powerful and when watched carefully we learn that writer/director is trying to address lot more than what it looks like on the surface.
Note: The title in English: ‘The Man who Feels No Pain’

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Subramaniapuram/2008/Tamil

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: M.Sasikumar
Setting: Rural

Why FiC recommends?
1) It’s a brilliant multi-genre film which keeps the audience stick to their seats with lot of amazing plot-twists.
2) This countryside family drama linked with betrayal politics is a thrilling watch from start to end.
Note: Inspired by this film, Anurag Kashyap went on to make Gangs of Wasseypur (part-1 & 2).

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