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  • Paradesi

    Paradesi

    ★★

    Bala's tale of bonded slaves at a tea plantation is single-minded in its depiction of the horror and despair of its protagonists. The first half is a tale of small village life with the main protagonist a disliked outsider who still manages to have a small love story to himself amidst the general sense of aimlessness. The second half, however, begins after a protracted dirge of the long and perilous journey to the tea plantation, and then segues into a…

  • Avan Ivan

    Avan Ivan

    ★★

    Maybe Bala's most interesting creation in that it seems to exist solely of events and characters that typically exist at the edges of his movies. Arya and Vishal play half-brothers who constantly get into a trouble in their local village. G.M. Kumar, maybe the film's most interesting and weird creation, plays a man they call "Highness," who is something like a zamindar, and watches over the two. After this is established, Bala's cock-eyed humor and gift of characterizations take over…

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  • The Wind Rises

    The Wind Rises

    ★★★

    "I like vehicles and want to continue drawing them, but I have resolved not to draw them in a fashion that further feeds an infatuation with power. In the same way, I think that being infatuated with the worl'ds biggest battleship guns merely reveals an infantile mentality, and such an infatuation is truly useless in conflicts with more sophisticated nations, who think of war as merely a means to victory, cannons merely as tools to destroy targets.

    I thus have…

  • Spirited Away

    Spirited Away

    ★★★★

    What struck me on this viewing is the idea of consumption. How you're affected by what you choose to consume, or not consume. Or, more the point, what goes into you or doesn't. It begins with her parents, but the same idea is manifested in the stink spirit vignette (a different manifestation of what happens at the beginning of PRINCESS MONONOKE, man's technological advancement wreaking havoc on nature, here expressed as sludge and vomit) and, most savagely, in the No…