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Category — Film and Society

Mildred Pierce: The (Re) Making of an “Event”

By Ramna Walia

The current economic recession in the United States of America and world over has led to a literary resurgence of an odd kind as the writings of economic theorist Karl Marx started selling in record numbers. Marx has now been accorded the status of the “comeback kid” of the present financial crisis.[1] Such spacio-temporal travels of past forms testify to the retrospective view of historical narration, one that is recounted through the gap between the moment of first encounter and the moment of recounting. Revivals, adaptations, and remakes have often been seen as cultural symptoms of this echo of history. Released among a web of inter-textual as well as inter-historical articulations, Todd Haynes’s multiple Emmy award winning mini-series Mildred Pierce (2011) strategically places itself along the nodes of a faithful adaptation of James M. Cain’s 1941 depression era novel and a reflective remake of Michael Curtiz’s inventive noir adaptation (1945) of the same.  Riding on the success and cultural memory of Curtiz’s film and socio-economic resonance of Cain’s novel, Haynes builds his version of Mildred Pierce as a mega television event which uses historical memory as a means to explore and expand generic possibilities of a remake, while simultaneously foregrounding its travels through the mediums of literature, cinema and television. [Read more →]

October 11, 2011   No Comments  

Thoughts on That Girl in Yellow Boots

 Let’s get the obvious out of the way right here right now. Anurag Kashyap’s That Girl in Yellow Boots is a good looking film. This is the story of Ruth (Kalki Koechlin)—the British girl who comes to India in search of her father who left his wife and daughter unceremoniously after his step-daughter committed suicide at the age of 15. Looking for this figure who will love her unconditionally, Ruth bases herself in Bombay, working in a seedy spa where she offers handjobs (handshakes and happy endings as she calls them) to her customers for an additional sum of money. [Read more →]

September 9, 2011   5 Comments  

Review: Midnight in Paris

Paris in 2010, Paris in the 1920s, Paris by day, Paris by night. Woody Allen’s latest offering, Midnight in Paris is really about the beauty of the city. Not the picturesque, postcard beauty Paris is associated with, but the beauty of the vibrant history of this city. [Read more →]

September 6, 2011   No Comments  

Pirate film appreciation

An eclectic collection of comments on the piratebay (torrent) page of Lars Von Trier’s The Idiots (1998). The protocol of critical comments on this page sheds light on fundamental changes in where all and in what form film criticism can emerge. On the one hand, thought comes wrapped with profanity and disgust, while on the other, this very pirate, very illegal page has the germs of a fan club, a discussion forum and indeed a quick film appreciation session! [Read more →]

August 10, 2011   No Comments  

The Past and Future of Film Criticism at Cinema City

The Cinema City film festival in Novi Sad, Serbia, hosted a panel discussion on the future of film criticism with director Gerald Peary, following the screening of his documentary, For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism (2009). The film offers a useful summary of the different roles of the film critic over nearly a century: plot summarizer, star rating authority, moral adjudicator, artistic assessor, layman film buff, and even, more recently, undercover promoter. Along the way, it turns a spotlight on the founders of the profession in America, names which will be strangely unfamiliar to many viewers, even to film critics. More recent stars of American film criticism are far better known: Pauline Kael, Andrew Sarris, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. The documentary keeps its talking head interviews short and entertaining, which makes the film an easy watch. It is organised chronologically at first, but as it reaches the contemporary period, the film’s final sections attempt to answer questions about the future of criticism: as the industry puts more pressure on the media to publish favourable reviews, and as traditional print publications decline in favour of web-based resources, what is the future of the professional critic as an independent film expert? [Read more →]

June 22, 2011   No Comments  

Chidananda Dasgupta passes away

One of India’s most renowned film critics Chidananda Dasgupta died following complications from an illness today in his house in Calcutta. He was 89 years old. [Read more →]

May 23, 2011   No Comments  

Rethinking Tamil Television News With Walter Lippmann Part – 2

If one agrees with Lippmann’s notion of news, news has a functional attribute: “to signalize an event.” And Lippmann’s notion of truth extends this purpose further by getting us the larger picture of reality in terms of facts. News and truth are not the same , according to Lippmann,but they are tied up inextricably in terms of their purposes with regard to the event. If one applies this logic of news and truth to what Tamil television news channels seek to convey in their “news casts.” what results is a shocking picture of what Lippmann would not have approved, In the name of “news “and “truth,” the news channels which are owned by the politicians take recourse very often to the dissemination of political propaganda as “news” in matters involving their parties and government. [Read more →]

May 8, 2011   No Comments  

Rethinking Tamil Television News With Walter Lippmann Part – 1

One of the seminal contributions of Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion (1922) lies in pointing to the linkages between news and truth, censorship and propaganda, democracy and news. In this post, I would like to engage with the objective of rethinking Tamil Television news through the prism offered by Walter Lippmann in Public Opinion. [Read more →]

May 8, 2011   No Comments  

Still Magic: An Aladdin’s Cave of 1950s B-Movie Fantasy
by Rosie Thomas

Rosie Thomas’s essay on Indian B-movies of the 1950s that appeared on the Tasveer Ghar site. Click here to read it.

(Note: It is a five-page long essay, click on ‘Select page’ or ‘Next’ which will appear at the bottom right corner of the page.)


March 22, 2011   No Comments  

Narcissism, Late Capitalism and Tamil Television: A Freudian Perspective

Sigmund Freud made a signal contribution to psychoanalysis through his 1914 paper “On Narcissism: An Introduction”. As a concept, narcissism has been employed in diverse ways to examine a range of socio-political leaders, movements and phenomena. In recent times, the rise of reality television provides ample scope to deal with the concept of narcissism in an entirely different mediascape and a different age of modernity, late capitalism. [Read more →]

January 17, 2011   No Comments