8:00 PM, 4th June, 2011
The Way Back marks a welcome return to the director's chair for Peter Weir after a seven year absence. Keeping to the epic themes of his last few films, The Way Back follows the journey of a small group of prisoners who escape the Siberian Gulag during the Second World War and travel by foot 4000 miles south to India in their quest for freedom.
Loosely based on the bestselling novel "The Long Walk" by Slawomir Rawicz, itself an allegedly true story (though one heavily in dispute), The Way Back is purely a work of fiction and both an exhilarating and harrowing one at that. The film features a strong B-list ensemble cast at the top of their game. For my money, it is particularly a warm welcome back to the Hollywood fold for Colin Farrell, who has spent the last few years toiling in Brit indie land (and quite successfully, as any In Bruges fans will tell you).
The Way Back will be remembered for its epic cinematography as well as its sweeping plot. Much like he did in Master and Commander, Weir has again strived to capture the unique aesthetics of the many locations travelled to throughout the film and it's a welcome change from the increasingly artificial, quick and dirty digital cinematography of modern Hollywood.
10:28 PM, 4th June, 2011
Winner of the Grand Award at the WorldFest festival in Houston, Texas for Best Theatrical Feature, Before The Rains is set in Kerala, India in the 1930s during the emerging independence movement from the British colonial era. While the film has had mixed reviews, the exotic locations, the recreation of the times and fashions and the wonderful accents make it a must see film for me. Being a fan of Somerset Maugham might also be a factor for me (this film is not related to his stories).
This is an opportunity to see the work of leading Indian director Santosh Sivan who was born in Kerala. It stars two of India’s best actors, Nandita Das and Rahul Bose, with Linus Roache and Jennifer Ehle taking on the roles of the colonials. The acting has been praised, handling the forbidden love and cultural conflicts superbly. A minor quibble, why does an American actress (Ehle) get the role of an Englishwoman, or an Australian for that matter (as Myrtle Logue in The King’s Speech)?
The cinematography is stunning and the rural setting provides is in stark contrast to the modern Mumbai of Slumdog Millionaire. I always pay attention to the soundtrack, this one was nominated for the World Soundtrack Award and is another reason to enjoy the film.