the latent sexual belligerence in mammootty's screen persona -- a beautiful, physically imposing man with creepy menace lurking underneath -- taken to a broad, comic extreme, with all the hilarity and unease that that entails. not major by any stretch, but the script (by lohithadas) is interesting for continually puncturing its protagonist's infantile fantasies (and as a result, chastening the particular masculinity of mammootty the star), even when that means a somewhat incongruous shift to melodrama, a violent exclamation, an incorrigible final wink.
sharply written/observed male microagressions and cruelties reinforced by an uncanny sense of off-screen space -- beautifully evoked both by sound and the facial gestures of actors -- bear down on each frame, centered on two women navigating a hostile, wintry delhi (shot with a certain distant beauty) but tellingly in positions to wield (varying degrees of) state power. to film's credit, doesn't shy away from at least acknowledging certain uncomfortable contradictions brought on by the latter -- despite what’s a…
the terrifying hilarity of a camera casually panning to a masked person waiting as their potential next victim makes them coffee, a blind man as unreliable as he is hapless, with as many secrets beneath his bunny head walking stick as there are behind his sunglasses, a hand (with a ring!) sticking out of a suitcase, a murder set to beethoven's fifth, all of these pieces and more put together with breathless invention -- to the point where the film's…
a living, breathing record of an urban milieu -- reconstructed with the vibrancy of color, music and rebellion -- shots of alleys, domestic interiors and every sound bringing forth the multiplicities of voices, perspectives and personalities of its dalit community.
at the center of it is, of course, rajni, a screen presence and symbol imposing enough to potentially define/devour/debilitate everything around him. somewhat startlingly (at least for someone yet to watch kabali), kaala begins and sustains a tense dialogue between…