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Their characters didnt often smile, and why would they, since they were confronting the challenges posed by caste, religion, blind faith, gender imbalance, poverty, bondage and violence? The leading women didnt know the existence of lipstick, although they did have an extensive collection of handloom saris. The men had unkempt hair and, often, beards, and they smoked an awful lot. Many of them were set in villages, while others trawled the slums and chawls of Mumbai much before Bollywood discovered these spaces. The films made for heavy watching, and often ended on an open and ambiguous note that, depending on the film-makers skills, represented a slap in the face or a running out of ideas. Cinemas of India represents a small segment of the Indian art cinema that was produced from the late 1960s onwards, but its a fabulous start. Film nostalgia isnt only for popular cinema, and feelings towards the art cinema on which us Indians grew up can be as mixed as our regard for the legacy of Sridevi or Rajinikanth. There are duds and gems, embarrassments and riches. Experimental films by Mani Kaul and Kumar Shahani sit on the same shelf as rural realist dramas. One of the greatest gifts of the label, in fact, is the release of DVDs of Kauls long-forgotten early achievements Uski Roti and Duvidha. Awtar Krishna Kauls 27 Down (1974). Photo courtesy: National Film Development Corporation 27 Down by Awtar Krishna Kaul, who died in an accident soon after its completion, is one of the great Mumbai films, featuring unforgettable journeys on the local train, a lustrous Raakhee, and some of the best black and white vistas of the city, including an unforgettable sequence of commuters spilling out of a train as it pulls into a station. Celebrated cinematographer Apurba Kishore Bir, who shot 27 Down and several parallel films, also directed a handful of titles, including Aranyaka, a Rules of the Game-influenced tale set in a tribal part of Orissa and featuring an ex-royal, his guests and a hunt that goes badly wrong.

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Thus the film was created through heavy use of computer graphics. The production worked with visual effects company Framestore on a soundstage outside of London. Special built contraptions allowed the actors to be moved around just enough to simulate zero gravity while the lights and cameras did most of the heavy lifting. An additional challenge came with Alfonso’s desire to draw out his shots. Close to 60% of the film is made of just 12 long, seamless takes. The result is a film that early reviews have lauded for both its visual achievement and its gripping storytelling. Entertainment Weekly is astonished by the film’s “hypnotic seamlessness.” The Village Voice calls it “remarkable because it’s both a spectacle and a platform for the performers.” A learning experience What has surprised the father-and-son duo is how the experience has changed their personal relationship. “I’ve learned a lot of things from him,” Jonas said, “but one is that when you sit down to plan a movie, you sit down to plan a movie you would like to see.” Jonas, according to his father, was easily bored and kept pushing his dad to move the action forward faster and let the audience connect to the characters through the action. “I would try to intellectualize the whole thing,” Alfonso said, “and he would say, ‘Well, whatever, that’s boring.’ And that was frustrating at points, but it forced us to shape it another way. I had to entertain my son.” “It was a true collaboration where Jonas was truly Alfonso’s equal,” said the film’s producer, David Heyman, who previously worked on “Harry Potter” and counts the director as godfather to one of his children. “He likes to say he was just another writer, but being Alfonso’s son there was that ability to bring a directness and an honesty to their communication that enhanced Alfonso’s work.” Blake Edwards co-wrote two of the 1980s “Pink Panther” movies with his son Geoffrey, and Irish director Jim Sheridan collaborated with daughters Naomi and Kirsten on the 2002 Oscar-nominated script “In America.” But there are few parent-child writing collaborations in Hollywood today. Alfonso says that Jonas helped rejuvenate his passion for pure cinema. The director, known for his painterly visual mastery his single-shot action sequence in “Children of Men” has been particularly lauded admits that he had been muddled in midcareer.

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His books, not to mention his tweets, can be gratuitously graphic. But director Mary Harron managed to morph his story into a terrifically transgressive story, lauded by both critics and academics. We think the casting may be to thank for this one. “The Shining” This is an incredible book, with an equally incredible sequel (you can read an excerpt from “Doctor Sleep” here). But Jack Nicholson’s performance, along with the eerie soundtrack and creepy-as-hell shots of identically-dressed children makes this film a classic. The book, on the other hand, is not King’s most critically acclaimed. “Precious” Sapphire’s book is inventive, to be sure: protagonist Precious begins writing when she’s semi-illiterate, and uses phonetic spellings. But the film, co-produced by Tyler Perry and Oprah, was an excellent platform for Gabourey Sidibe’s acting. “Drive” The neo-noir novel is great, but could get lost among a sea of other well-written pulp fiction books. The movie, on the other hand, is unique: It’s at once campy and subtly touching. And, okay, it’s also Ryan Gosling at his best. “Silence of the Lambs” This novel was critically acclaimed — Roald Dahl called it, “subtle, horrific and splendid, the best book I have read in a long time,” and David Foster Wallace used to assign it to his students. But Hannibal’s eeriness is simply better conveyed on film. “The Godfather” Mario Puzo co-wrote the film version of his book, so he shouldn’t take offense to this one. The movie is better if only because of the impact it’s had on the way Americans view their individual nationalities and ethnicities.

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Hysteria At the turn of the twentieth century, it was common practice for doctors to ease their female patients’ bouts of “hysteria” by “bringing them to crisis.” In this film, based on real historical events, you’ll find out that this so-called treatment was nothing more than doctors masturbating their female patients to orgasm. Because mainstream medical beliefs at the time did not include the idea of a female orgasm, many of these doctors (though not the wisest ones) thought that they were simply massaging their patients’ wombs. This movie focuses on a young doctor whose friend inadvertently discovers the vibrator, which promises to revolutionize the treatment of hysteria (again, this is based on true events, which you can read about in historian Rachel Maines’ book The Technology of Orgasm ). But as this doctor learns more about the truth of female sexuality, he also draws closer to a fiery feminist and advocate for the poor (a superb Maggie Gyllenhaal). He has to choose between a respectable life as a doctor, and supporting the outspoken woman whom many believe is only a feminist because she’s suffering from hysteria. This is a fantastic tale of social change and romance based on a lot more than sex. 4. The Road to Wellville Also based loosely on true events, this satirical movie directed by Alan Parker is about an early-twentieth century health nut, John Harvey Kellogg (yes, the guy who invented corn flakes). It’s based on a beloved cult novel by T. Coraghessen Boyle. Kellogg, played with scenery-chewing abandon by Anthony Hopkins, has a special spa for health nuts, where people eat lots of bran, immerse themselves in mud, and submit to “electrical vibrations.” One of the many treatments on offer is for hysteria, which becomes a major plot point as the hapless protagonist (an adorable Matthew Broderick) tries to navigate the social world of the spa without losing his dignity and his mind. Also featuring Brigitte Fonda in some compromising positions, and John Cusack as a foxy upstart in the cereal business. 5. Randy: The Electric Lady This is a seriously silly porn movie written by Terry Southern (under the pseudonym Norwood Pratt), the guy who wrote Dr.