Film in Cards

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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Gates Of Heaven/1978/English

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Errol Morris

Why FiC recommends?
1) Documentary/Indie film on a pet cemetery may not sound appealing but Gates Of Heaven offers insight into the compassion humans feel for deceased animals, explores the meaning of life and death, and portrays fascinating characters throughout.
2) Werner Herzog dared to eat his shoe if the documentary was released in theaters. Later a short film was made of Herzog dining on his footwear titled “Werner Herzog Eats His Shoes”

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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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Decoder/1984/Gemran

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Muscha

Why FiC recommends?
Muscha’s Decoder is sort of Zeitgeist of the Berlin 1980s counterculture, a criminally under-seen masterpiece of German weirdness, before the Internet and cyber warfare shot

2)  It should be considered required watching for anyone who love Shinya Tsukamoto’s classic cyberpunks, Sogo Ishii’s Electric Dragon 80.000 V and films such as They Live, Vortex (1982) and Liquid Sky. The film is battered in 80s industrial/electronica culture by intense soundtrack from the likes of Einsturzende Neubauten, Soft Cell, The The, and Psychic Tv.

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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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Vampires in Havana (Vampiros en La Habana) /1985/ Spanish

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir:  Juan Padrón

Why FiC recommends?
1) Juan Padrón who passed away during the coronavirus pandemic, was more than a master, he was a pioneer in the field of animation in Latin America. Now that you are all on a streaming binge, you should seek out his work.
2) Fans of Ralp Bakshi, Michael Schaak (Felidae), Rene Laloux and 70’s euro horror will be entertained and amused as the plot is so fresh.

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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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Searching For Sugar Man/2012/English

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Malik Bendjelloul

Why FiC recommends?
1) Time and again documentaries have proven that real life can be stranger than fiction.This is one such story of two fans who set about to find their musical idol whose life is nothing short of an enigma.
2) The songs throughout the feature adds beautifully to the atmosphere of the proceedings and can be counted as another leading character in itself.

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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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Black Friday/2004/Hindi

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Anurag Kashyap
Setting: Urban/Suburban

Why FiC recommends?
1) Making political films based on real incidents was not bollywood’s forte when this film was made in 2004. It was banned by Indian govt for 3 years before it got clearance in 2007. It is hard hitting and very realistic presentation of 1993 Mumbai blasts.
2) The casting is spot on and screenplay is just flawless and films keeps you on edge of your seat till the very last minute.

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Confessions/2010/Japanese

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Tetsuya Nakashima

Why FiC recommends?
1) To put it simply, this movie is about a mother looking for revenge for her daughter’s death. But nothing is as straightforward as it seems.After each Confession, an extra layer is peeled off and the viewer is left to switch sides and ponder upon who is the real culprit till the end.
2) The film takes no time to take off and certainly has one of the most intense psycologically thrilling first act out there.

Note: The Japanese Original Title is “Kokuhaku”

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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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Coherence/2013/English

FiC Rating: 3.5/5
Dir: James Ward Byrkit
Setting: Urban

Why FiC recommends?
1) This film is an outstanding example of how a thrilling and wonderful film can be made with a shoe string budget and an original mind blowing concept.
2) This is a Sci-Fi which has practically zero special effects but still hooks you to the proceedings till the climax.

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Titli/2014/Hindi

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Kanu Behl
Setting: Suburban

Why FiC recommends?
1) There exists a suburban attached to every city which keeps reminding the society about the class-divide in the cities and the unjust that some people have to bear. For them crime looks different. Titli, in a nutshell is about this issue.
The film maintains a constant tension throughout and it keeps on increasing as the movie progresses. The casting and the BGM add onto the tone of the film so well and accelerate the grittiness.

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The Man From Nowhere/2010/Korean

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Jeong-beom Lee
Setting: Urban

Why FiC recommends?
1) A highly stylized and fast paced action revenge movie with a strong emotional connect.
2) The outstanding hand to hand combat scenes which culminates in one of the best knife fights ever put on screen.

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Moothon/2019/Malayalam

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Geetu Mohandas

Why FiC recommends?
Moothon (The Elder One) serves its social purpose in the Indian society and beyond like no other. 10 minutes into this movie you start worrying about the little kid in the film, and two hours later you realize it hasn’t let up one bit in intensity.

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LETO/2018/Russian

FiC Rating: 3.5/5
Dir: Kirill Serebrennikov

Why FiC recommends?
1) It is beautifully shot and is a perfect ode to youth and rock in Soviet Russia.

2) There are filmmakers who have contributed to this genre, but Serebrennikov may be the only one to have succeeded in this initiative of linking music to political protest.

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B.A.Pass/2012/Hindi

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Ajay Bahl
Setting: Town

Why FiC recommends?
1) To just tag it as an erotic drama would not do justice to the kind of film it is. It’s lot more than that.
2) Each character has been tailored so carefully that you connect with each one of it. It is a daring portrayal of the vulnerabilities of adolescence.

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Lucia/2013/Kannada

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Pawan Kumar
Setting: Urban

Why FiC recommends?
1) The way a film built may not be an important factor for recommending a movie. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that this well made multi-genre movie is a crowd funded project (which I’ve not considered in the rating).
2) This non-linear film tries to cover a lot of things in 135 minutes. It is about the other side of ‘stardom’, love, urbanization, Film-mafia, drugs and euthanasia.

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Peepli Live/2010/Hindi

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Anusha Rizvi, Mahmood Farooqui
Setting: Rural

Why FiC recommends?
1) Satire is a difficult genre. It’s delicate but when curated properly in a film, it just beats other genres. Peepli live is a film to be studied in this regard.
2) It addresses multiple formal and known issues as a country we’re facing. That too how? This amazing screenplay starts as a comedy plot, starts growing – it steps into politics & media, then it makes you sympathetic- it steps into poverty and innocence of people in that drought hit village, by now you start empathizing with these people. It’s a pure win to a cinema as a medium.

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Masaan/2015/Hindi

FiC Rating: 4/5
Dir: Neeraj Ghaywan
Setting: Town

Why FiC recommends?
1) The film is about conflicts. Conflict between life & death; conflict between to be or not to be; conflict between loving someone and letting them go. Movie doesn’t conclude what is right and wrong. That’s where the film wins big time.
2) Superb casting and simple screenplay makes the film run so smoothly that you get immersed into its own zone.
Note: Masaan means ‘Cemetery’

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Lunchbox/2013/Hindi

FiC Rating: 5/5
Dir: Ritesh Batra
Setting: Urban

Why FiC recommends?
1) Watching Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a steadily growing cinema like this is a real treat.
2) The storyline is totally atypical to what is normally seen in even well accepted Indian films. The film is amazingly captivating in terms of how it takes both its story and characters together, keeping ‘life in Mumbai city’ at the center.

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Gulaal/2009/Hindi

FiC Rating: 4.5/5
Dir: Anurag Kashyap
Setting: Town/Rural

Why FiC recommends?
1) Gulaal is stuffed with multiple things – cast politics, youth exploitation, love betrayal and also the doomsday poetry. How? watch the film. Thank Piyush Mishra and Anurag Kashyap later.
2) It’s intense & brutal from start to end, it is as restless as the characters in the film are. So the characters of the film nicely fit into the film.

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