Drama

Manji 卍 / 1983 / Japanese 

FiC Rating: 3.5/5
Dir: Hiroto Yokoyama
Why FiC recommends?
1)  Passion and emotional turmoil are served up raw in this Viscerally EROTIC, CYNICAL & COLD film. Patient viewers will be rewarded with an all-out experience during the film’s finale.
2) Certainly, I think the film was of the kind of kind, where you are drawn into the world of passionate passion and love, which develops in a totally unpredictable direction and becomes catastrophically destructive to the relationship.

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Historias extraordinarias (Extraordinary Stories) / 2008 / Spanish

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Mariano Llinás
Why FiC recommends?
1) It is a secular film, neither choral nor Manichean. Ordinary characters, almost all of them, in extraordinary situations that sometimes lead them to behave in ways, even violent, in contradiction with their principles. Frequently felt in the narrative lane of SABU, Aki Kaurasmaki, Takahisa Zeze with the constant narration and mild dry humor with Kafkaesque letter names, who solve one mystery only to see another open before their eyes.
2) The film offers the spectator a multiplicity of glances around the same event, the problems suffered by the protagonists, which triggers interesting consequences. It is divided into 18 chapters, with novel titles.

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A Thousand and One Hands (Les mille et une mains) / 1973 / French

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Souheil Ben-Barka
Why FiC recommends?
1)  The story in Souheil Ben-Barka’s debut is all knitted around an insane old man who goes from a Kafkaesque absurdity to the next social humiliation. It is absurd, but it is only the beginning of the almost surreal, but unfortunately all too realistic questioning the cultural hybridity.
2)  I’d recommend this for fans of Souleymane Cisse’s Baara, Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s Gabbeh, Yimou Zhang’s Ju DOU, Carlos Mayolo and Luis Ospina’s The Vampires of Poverty.

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Eeb Allay Ooo!/2019/Hindi

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Prateek Vats
Setting: Urban

Why FiC recommends?
1) A brilliantly layered satire astutely putting forward the tragic reality in which we live today. It points out how misplaced our priorities are through the eyes of a misfit migrant trying to earn a living in the cauldron of political activities in Delhi.
2) Never do you feel a tinge of artificiality seep into the performance of the cast, specially the protagonist played by Shardul Bharadwaj. In fact, the brilliant acting chops is what will keep you riveted and invested in the trajectory of the characters from the start to finish.

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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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Post Tenebras Lux/2012/Spanish,French,English

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Carlos Reygadas
Why FiC recommends?
1) Despite many complaints on this film that – ‘it’s a very personal film from the director which has nothing to do with the viewer’, it is one of those very few rule-breaking cinemas to have redefined ‘what a cinema could be’.
2) Yes! it demands a lot of patience from the viewer. It’s not because there’s nothing happening through the length of the film which someone can easily comprehend, but because of its sheer exploratory style.

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Naked/1993/English

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Mike Leigh

Why FiC recommends?
1) It was controversial when it released because of its raw portrayal of very human nature through it’s protagonist Johnny (amazingly performed by David Thewlis).
2) The film is filled with scenes which leave the audience confused with some magical mix of fun, pun and philosophy. It’s a great ride, you just have to stick to it.

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Wir Monster/ 2015 / German

FiC Rating: 3.5/5
Dir: Sebastian Ko
Why FiC recommends?
1) This near perfect script has been dealt with utmost care to seal off all loopholes the human mind could ever conjure up which cleverly balanced between plot and psychology, contrary to the nonchalant treatments that grace thrillers these days.
2) I strongly recommend this film, especially to the thriller genre lovers.

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Force Majeure/2014/ Swedish,Norwegian

FiC Rating: 53.5/5
Dir: Ruben Östlund

Why FiC recommends?
1) Some movies are not for reviewing, they just have to be watched and experienced. It’s difficult to write about such experiences. This movie is a slow poison, but once it levels upto the neck, there’s no going back!
2) The intelligent script puts you in dilemma whether to laugh or cry. Some say it’s a slap to male ego, some say it’s a pure portrayal of innate human psyche. Whatever it is about, it’s a delight for the audience!

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Sulemani Keeda/2013/Hindi

FiC Rating: 3.5/5
Dir: Amit V Masurkar
Setting: Urban

Why FiC recommends?
1) The story of two friends who are trying their luck as script writers and hoping to make it big in Bollywood films. A very simple story yet very engaging.
2) Through pun and satire, the director wants to tell the world how absurd and unstructured the film industry usually runs in India.

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King Of Hearts (Le roi de coeur) /1966 / French

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Philippe de Broca

Why FiC recommends?
1) As an anti-war theme film, “King of Hearts” does not use cold, blood and violence to show the blood red line. This film conveys that message while being utterly charming, it hides the cruel incidents that have happened and using mental institutions as a metaphor for the world outside.
2) King of Hears is a cult film full of absurdness, love and warmth, but also full of cruelty, but its process is beautiful which is an absolute joy to watch.

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Tokyo Trash Baby (Tôkyô gomi onna)/2000/Japanese

FiC Rating: 3.5/5
Dir by: Ryuichi Hiroki
Setting: Suburban/Small-town

Why FiC recommends?
1) It’s a low-key character study, shot on digital video for almost no money, and brings the viewer very close to the experience of Miyuki (Mami Nakamura), which increases sympathy for this character.

2) The film is part of “Love Cinema” series along with along with Takashi Miike’s “Visitor Q” among others, and all the films are shot on DV.

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Nagarkirtan/2017/Bengali

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Kaushik Ganguly
Setting: Urban,Rural

Why FiC recommends?
1) Breaking free of stereotypical perspectives, this film plays with the themes of love, longing, lust and passion.Explores a new dimension of love, seldom seen in the gambit of Indian Cinema.
2) Digging into the transcendental love of Radha-Krishna, the relationship of Puti and Madhu will tug at your heartstrings, and will compel you to perceive the invisible tyranny of societal laws.

Note: The international title of the film is “The Eunuch and the Flute Player”

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Whale Valley/2013/Iceland

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson
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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Gummo/1997/English

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Harmony Korine
Setting: Countryside
Why FiC recommends?
1) When Gummo was released in 1997, New York Times wrote ‘Worst film of the year. In 2017 Nic Castillon of Daily Emerald wrote justifying why Gummo is one of best films in 20 years. So Gummo is definitely not an ordinary film. It has got equal attacks and praises in its kitty.
2) The film is a true indie production where the entire focus is on telling the misery of an american tornado-prone village. Camera (most of the times the handheld one) is just an ‘eye’ here. You won’t see any filmschool techniques. No definitive storyline, plot etc. But it is stuffed enough to hit you hard. Just that one has stick to it and enter the shoes of the people living there.

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Dancer in the Dark/2000/English,German,Czech

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Lars von Trier
Setting: Suburban/Small-town

Why FiC recommends?
1) Cinema fraternity should thank those few directors who bring in a sudden new dimension to cinema possibilities. Writer-Director Lars Von Trier belongs to that group. Dancer in the Dark is yet another gem in his filmography.
2) What to say about Bjork! A lifetime performance as an actor and as a music composer (and singer) a soul squeezing contribution.
3) Not an easy watch! better keep some tissues for the tears. The movie is intentionally tailored that way!

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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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The Art of Happiness (L’arte della felicità)/2013/Italian

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Alessandro Rak

Why FiC recommends?
1) A visionary animated film of deep play that is stylistically innovative and spiritually/philosophically rich in content.
2) The dream state of the movie allows for the animation to take on a fresh approach to convey the ideas.

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4:30/2005/ Mandarin

FiC Rating: 3.5/5
Dir: Royston Tan
Setting: Urban

Why FiC recommends?
1) This is essential for those art films lovers and for the fans of Royston Tan it’s a much-watch.

2) 4:30 is an unexpectedly calm dreamlike film for its aesthetic that details the unlikely friendship / relationship between Zhang Xiao Wu, an eleven year old Chinese Boy, and his tenant Jung, a thirty-something Korean man.

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Only God Forgives/2013/English,Thai

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn

Why FiC recommends?
1) This film like a marriage between violence and color(neon) giving birth to hallucination. Each of these elements keep on trying to dominate over each other through the entire length.
2) Silence is used as solid screenplay tool to create an intentional void between scene expectation and scene delivery. Many complain that this film is pretentious; but nobody can deny the unique style it has got!

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Castle of Dreams/2019/Iranian

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Reza Mirkarimi
Setting: Rural/Road

Why FiC recommends?
1) In this heartbreaking family drama, the evolution of the character ‘Jalal’ as the film progresses is worth studying. To say that the movie is about fatherhood would be erroneous because it is far more than that. It is in fact atypical to regular fatherhood movies.
2) Most part of the movie happens in a moving car, yet this doesn’t hamper the frequent revelations that keep happening at regular intervals, levelling up the pace of the film. (It has grabbed several awards for its solid screenplay).

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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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An Elephant Sitting Still/2018/Mandarin

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Hu Bo
Setting: Town

Why FiC recommends?
1) Some films are pure bliss and they carry some massive magic power of injecting some sort of ‘awakenings’. This is where cinema as a medium proves itself to be more than mere bunch of entertaining images. This film easily joins this league.
2) This deeply moving four hours long film is wrapped by a unique cinematic style tone. The bluish tint proves its worth here.
3) Yu Zhang’s (as Yu Cheng) characterization is stunning and he surely has given a solid justification to that role.
Note: It’s Hu Bo’s first and last film. He committed suicide soon after the shooting of this film.

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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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Ankhon Dekhi/2013/Hindi

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Rajat Kapoor
Setting: Rural/Town

Why FiC recommends?
1) This movie is a life lesson told very beautifully and effectively. A poetic, philosophical, whimsical in narration yet not preachy! This is an amazing piece of work.
2) The protagonist (a common man) develops himself a theory of ‘believing only what he can see with his eyes’. He takes it very seriously and sticks to it. It may sound funny- but watch the movie- it isn’t!

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Dhobi Ghat/2010/Hindi

FiC Rating: 3.5/5
Dir: Kiran Rao
Setting: Urban

Why FiC recommends?
1) When it comes to Indian Cinema, not to exaggerate, Mumbai (Bombay, previously) itself serves as a genre! Even a fairly decent story when coupled with Mumbai as the setting, it becomes something special. Dhobi Ghat isn’t an exception.
2) Film carries four characters with different background and all of them trying to find themselves in the city of dreams.

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