Film Review: Eeb Allay Ooo!

REVIEW: The sounds that make up the title of Prateek Vats’s Eeb Allay Ooo! resonate through its length. Their most direct expression is in the deep, full-bodied croaks and high-pitched whoops of its monkey-repelling squad, assigned in New Delhi’s Raisina Hill to scare the animals away from the country’s highest government offices. We hear these sounds even before we see their source as newly-arrived migrant Anjani (Shardul Bharadwaj) gets hurriedly trained in the film’s opening moments.

Of Mothers and Daughters: Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta and Three Alice Munro Short Stories

ESSAY: The works of both artists—Munro and Almodóvar—draw in small and big ways from their personal narratives. And so, while the film puts an end to the terrible silence in the mother’s life, offering at long last the possibility of a reunion, these stories from the collection turn on their marvellously evocative title exploring what it is to be a runaway from one’s own mother. “We say of some things that they can’t be forgiven, or that we will never forgive ourselves. But we do—we do it all the time,” Munro writes towards the end of “Dear Life”. We never find out if Antía truly does the same. But one suspects that it is not her forgiveness that the director is after.

Close-Up on Johnnie To's "Vengeance"

ESSAY: Hong Kong director Johnnie To’s gangster story of violence and retribution has all the usual ingredients: icy hitmen, decisive tests of loyalty, grand showdowns, moody cityscapes…and food. Our aging hero, Francis Costello (French singer Johnny Hallyday), is a chef who owns a restaurant at the Champs-Élysées. And in an early scene, without wasting too much time—a quality that he shares with his director—Costello sets about displaying his culinary skills.

Fish-Men and Lonely Islands: The Films of Shirley Barrett

ESSAY: Australian writer-director Shirley Barrett’s latest venture, a screenplay-turned-novel titled Rush Oh!, is about the fascinating and true story of an inter-species bond that grew in the early 1900s between a whaling community in the coastal town of Eden and a pod of killer whales. Every year, the whales returned to help the whalers trap their prey and share in the common loot. In an interview, Barrett describes how she came upon the story one particular rainy day during a beach trip to Eden.

Art in Conflict, Conflict in Art

INTERVIEW: “When you paint burning chinar leaves and the smoke, it gives a very beautiful effect. Especially in water colours,” says painter and teacher Masood Hussain in Raqs-e-Inquilab (Art in a Time of Conflict). It is a striking and yet wistful moment that powerfully encapsulates the film’s central theme—the coming together of art and strife, of the beautiful and the bleak, of the created with the real, of life with death.

When the Cat’s Away

INTERVIEW: Loneliness and loss, the ways in which people perceive absence, and the choices that emanate from them are some of the themes filmmaker Sudipto Roy explores in his new film Kia and Cosmos. Truth and its potentially harmful and liberating qualities as well as the struggles of modern single parenting, the changing notions of family, the emergence of unlikely friendships, and the affirming nature of unusual and unusually-conducted social interactions are all deeply considered in this gentle and confident debut feature.

Parting Shots: Uncut Gems and Where to Find Them

ESSAY: In a podcast almost as heady and packed as their latest film Uncut Gems (2019) and cheekily titled “Seduce and Destroy,” after the particular brand of sleazy pickup artistry promoted by dating coach Frank T.J. Mackey (Tom Cruise) in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia (1999), Josh and Benny Safdie talked to Anderson about, among other things, how their respective films could serve as metaphors for filmmaking with their protagonists appearing as stand-ins for themselves.
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