artoholic

Samsara/2011/USA

FiC Rating 5/5
Dir: Ron Fricke
Why FiC Recommends?
1) A spiritual odyssey interspersed with spectacular images and meditative sermons, Samsara finds transcendence in the iconic architectures from the past, astounding natural landscapes and life’s vibrant rhythm in general.
2) Without uttering a word and solely relying on the staggering visuals Samsara pushes the boundaries of the medium and comes really close to echoing the heartbeats of our planet and for that Ron Fricke had to spend five years filming it on twenty five different countries in remotest of locations.
3) At it’s zenith Samsara reaches to a point where our existence, our spiritual tryst and mother nature converge together, it builds up a global togetherness

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11 Flowers/2011/China

FiC Rating 4/5
Dir: Wang Xiaoshuai
Why FiC Recommends?
1) 11 Flowers is a delicate and intimate look at childhood during the tail end of Cultural Revolution. There’s oppression, murder mystery, Labor exploitation and so many examples of authoritarian sovereignty over individual rights but it is marinated in innocence and nostalgia, the context of Cultural Revolution is so faint that it’s relevance only comes to light once it trespasses into the children’s small world.
2) Xiaoshuai’s discourse without analyzing anything strolls through history as perceived by a child, the era of political persecution and misdeeds fails to weigh down the carefree and joyous spirit of childhood.
3) Just like the children Xiaoshuai filters out the disturbances and remains willfully ignorant about the topological shift that China was going through.

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Shanghai Dreams/2005/China

FiC Rating 3.5/5
Dir: Wang Xiaoshuai
Why FiC Recommends?
1) Enthusiastically chronicles individual struggle and defiance to fit in a collapsing universe during the Cultural Revolution at it’s peak and reckons with the collective hardships of his country.
2) Shanghai Dreams is a poignant and poetic musing over the hardships of the older generation to embrace a new reality forgetting their roots as well as the hardships of the younger generation whose dreams and ambitions get butchered by a crumbling social order.
3) The individual agonizing existence mingles with the country’s comprehensive grief.

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Antiporno/2016/Japan

FiC Rating 5/5
Dir: Sion Sono
Why FiC Recommends?
1) As a film that delves into the realm of kinks and fetishes emblematic to it’s assertive title, Antiporno is sexually provocative but a feeding frenzy of chaos that paints a nauseating portrait of exploitation of women at it’s core.
2) Nikkatsu Studio offered Sono to direct a film in the reboot of Roman Porno series which had quite a prolific run in the 70s and 80s and here is Sono charging his project with rage and anguish and presenting a scathing critique of the entire project in the impression of a sexual exploitation flick.
3) Antiporno is as much a howl of a director being disgusted with sexploitation flicks as it is an arresting visual essay about women’s liberty and fake perception of their freedom, Sono deconstructs cinema as a voyeuristic medium.

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Hill of No Return/1992/Taiwan

FiC Rating 5/5
Dir: Wang Tung
Why FiC Recommends?
1) The sprawling epic takes place at a mining village dwelling on the human rights abuse and labor exploitation during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan contrary to most of the Taiwan New Wave films that deal with post independence contrasting identity crisis.
2) Tung’s poignant exercise in humanism brings forth a staggering conflict between the institutionalised subservience and the burning desire for liberty, life at it’s primitive and most unsophisticated state marinated in existential malaise meets a poet’s romanticism.
3) Hill of No Return lands compensates it’s technical limitations and quite effectively blurs the gap between viewer’s conscious and fictional reality.

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When The Tenth Month Comes/1984/Vietnam

When The Tenth Month Comes/1984/Vietnam

FiC Rating 5/5
Dir: Dang Nhat Minh
Why FiC Recommends?
1) The trauma of Vietnam War on an individual level mingles with the intimate Vietnamese way of life in Dang Nhat Minh’s sublime drama on human condition. Even though the war sets it in motion, not a single bullet is fired in When The Tenth Month Comes, it rids itself off of delineating the historical event and puts light on the perseverance and fortitude of a woman.
2) the unseen brutality, the unheard cries, the intangible tears of the fallen makes it agonizingly difficult and engrossing simultaneously.
3) If the pacifist spirit is the most elevating element in the film, the central character development and the ambiance of rural lifestyle is undoubtedly it’s most captivating aspect.

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So Long My Son/2019/China

FiC Rating 5/5
Dir: Wang Xiaoshuai
Why FiC Recommends?
1) Perpetual grief stemming out of intolerable memories that melts inside one’s soul and becomes inseparable with his existence, the permanent laceration of soul that one has to carry to his grave gets partially devitalized by the overwhelming rapport; the blessings of life triumphs over torment in So Long, My Son where the realism of a documentary bearing a witness of China’s impulsive shift towards globalization meets a poet’s romanticism
2) It is a profoundly intimate emotional catharses as well as an authentic documentation of the country’s family dynamics post Cultural Revolution.
3) The bleak reality strikes one with utmost ferocity and similarly the sweeping undercurrent of life’s blessings makes a plethora of emotions to float into the viewer’s face.

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Honeygiver Among The Dogs/2016/Bhutan

FiC Rating 3.5/5
Dir: Dechen Roder
Why FiC Recommends?
1) Honeygiver Among The Dogs embraces the most obvious genre tropes of a film noir but ends up welding a surprising new layer of spirituality into it, the roots of which are deep seated in the Buddhist mysticism.
2) This visually arresting debut is fueled by corruption and authoritarian moral turpitude but a Zen like poise is written all over it that stems out of Bhutan’s mythical sensibilities
3) The jaw dropping cinematography with a strikingly gorgeous visual palette resonates with the lavish landscape tableaux of ‘The Land of Happiness’.

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Still Life/2006/China

FiC Rating 5/5
Dir: Jia Zhangke
Why FiC Recommends?
1) Still Life is an intimate rumination about existential malaise, a poignant illustration of personal distress and widespread anxiety and also an arduous quest against the tide of time.
2) The prestigious Golden Lion Winner epitomizes China’s shift from socialism to state capitalism while retaining the state’s sovereignty over decision making.
3) The intense alienation amidst a rapid transmuting topography of China is another leitmotif in Zhangke’s works, identically the touching depiction of urban alienation is a notable aspect in Still Life that keeps one at the edge of a nervous breakdown.

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Whale Valley/2013/Iceland

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: GuĂ°mundur Arnar GuĂ°mundsson
Setting: Rural
Why FiC recommends?

1) Distressing isolation dares to rupture the sibling bond and shakes the foundations of adolescence in rural Iceland, the vast and grim landscapes channel out the insipid inner emptiness of the leading duo in this awe-inspiring short film.
2) The inventive metaphor of a dead whale as the spirit animal of the leading duo is a masterstroke, it represents the embryonic solitude and intensifies the dreadful odour of despondency in this godforsaken valley.

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Scent of Green Papaya/1993/Vietnam

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Tran Anh Hung
Setting: Rural
Why FiC recommends?

1) An exuberant portrait of a tranquil Vietnam, The Scent of Green Papaya consolidates mundanity with ripening to unwrap the spiritual practice within the chores.
2) The unobtrusive idiosyncrasy while tracing the imperceptible bridge of love and spirituality is one of the most iconic traits of Tran Anh Hung, his artistic embellishments never clash with naturalism; thus the unhurried unfolding of romance bears a recurring wave of desire.

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Gali Guleiyan/2017/Hindi

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Dipesh Jain
Setting: Urban
Why FiC recommends?

1) A voyeuristic gaze on the maze like alleyways of old Delhi’s underbelly and a breathtaking psychological study of the frigid characters imprisoned inside the strangulating universe longing to break free from this confinement
2) The semi cloistered lives represent the different shadowy corners of a turbulent social structure distantly sharing an excruciating existence amidst harrowing urban isolation. The silence is not empty, rather it’s the quietude before storm and often relentless emotion erupts out of the screen and engulfs you completely.

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The Awakening of The Ants/2019/Costa Rica

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Antonella Sudasassi
Why FiC recommends?

1) Underneath the intimate complications of a purportedly perfect middle class family a quiet rebellious spirit is entrenched at the heart of The Awakening of The Ants, a subdued flame of insubordination is aching to exhort in Sudasassi’s enthusiastically evocative dissertation on machismo.
2) There’s always an impalpable collision between family obligations and personal exuberance with a quiet hankering to shatter the shackles of the responsibilities. Sudasassi’s minutely detailed domestic drama has a universe swelling with tensions, always keeps you at the edge of a nervous breakdown.

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The Wild Goose Lake/2019/China

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Diao Yinan
Setting: Urban, Crime
Why FiC recommends?

1) There’s a delightfully elegant balance between Yinan’s style and substances, it assembles the genre tropes and piled up desperation and existential angst is constructed from the same fabric of a rapidly collapsing society
2) This hyper tensed manhunt is flooded with colours and super saturated mood sculptures give unavoidable kar-Wai vibes while retaining it’s originality in every possible ways.

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Portrait of a Lady On Fire/2019/France

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Celine Sciammma

Why FiC recommends?

1) A burning flame of female desire artfully constructs it’s fabric of sumptuous yet forbidden romance, the fire is as much metaphorical as it is tangible in Portrait of a Lady on Fire.
2) This is a vivifying painting of love and longing, with a transfixing warmth of the erotic heat taking birth inside the depths off repression, it is where a painter’s observant eyes meets a lover’s gaze.

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Vara: A Blessing/2013/English

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Khyentse Norbu

Setting: Spiritual, rural
Why FiC recommends?

1) A meta-physical pilgrimage that celebrates the florescence of spiritual and intellectual growth through art and chores, more over portrays the conflict between spiritual germination and pre-existing social toxicity.
2) The visual extravaganza sustains a transcendental delicacy where ill-fated romance, religion and art contrives the pillars of spiritual wisdom.

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Kingyo/2009/Japanese

FiC Rating: 3.5/5
Dir: Edmund Yeo

Setting: urban
Why FiC recommends?

1) A jugglery over the form of narrative and screenplay, perhaps the most inventive use of split screen to delineate both separation and continuation of life, the story has a little to offer but the artistic wizardry is boundless.
2) Memory, nostalgia and aching melancholy works in harmony and immerse you inside this pristinely delicate slice of life, Kingyo is transcendence in action.

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Mute Fire/2019/Colombian

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Federico Atehortua Arteaga

Setting: Political
Why FiC recommends?

1) A mixture of personal trauma and Colombia’s traumatic reality, it digs the history of cinema’s origin in Colombia to fraternise with it’s ever turbulent political scenario and contains the subdued flame thriving inside Colombia’s soul.
2) This kaleidoscopic ride through images, archived and personal footages epitomise Colombia in a nutshell and this can actually change your perception of truth forever rewarding you with an epiphanic silence.

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A Touch of Sin/2013/Mandarin

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Jia Zhangke
Setting: Rural, Suburban, Metropolitan

Why FiC recommends?

1) An arresting piece of social and political critique driven by some crazy acts of violence, this is an artist’s howl for the need of procuring individual rights in the middle of China’s recent social unrest.
2) A Touch of Sin ruptures the myth about Chinese national identity and delineates the existential reality of modern China with protagonists varying from a desperate teenager, a social activist, a murderer to a sauna receptionist. Even though rocked by violence, a breathtaking and emotionally rich social commentary is deep-seated within A Touch of Sin.

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