Monday, October 17, 2011

Benares brass

Pather Panchali: Classic Indian neo-realist film, which I'll admit is a genre and location I'm not very familiar with, so I'm coming at this as a bit of an innocent. This film reminded me more than anything else of the British kitchen-sink drama of the same period (early Sixties): a story about a poor working-class family ground down by a combination of debt, poverty, bad luck, unsympathetic neighbours and hypocrisy (when, at the end of the film, the family finally decide to cut their losses and go to the big city, the village elders, who have been no help at all to them throughout the story, all turn up to beg them to stay on the grounds that it's their ancestral home). A familiar story which needs to be told over and over, and the characterisation of the family and their neighbours is nuanced, but the story was stretched over about three hours, mostly consisting of long shots of people looking faintly puzzled in the countryside, so I'm in no rush to view the rest of Indian neo-realist cinema.

Milk: Well-cast biopic of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician in the USA. Viewed here and now against the backdrop of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the somewhat terrifying rise of the religious right in the USA, it's particularly clear that his story has wider implications: that it's difficult and sometimes soul-destroying (and, as in Milk's case, also sometimes fatal) to stand up for equal rights and justice for the oppressed and marginalised, but that if enough people do, the movement can win in the long run.

Movie count for 2011: 112