Each time I watch a Bollywood movie, an urgent need to rinse my mouth with two good foreign films overwhelms me.
Having recently inflicted upon myself the masochistic trauma of sitting through Ajay Devgan’s latest emetic Singham Returns, I was besides myself in agony.
How in Heaven’s name can this Rohit Shetty mis-directed turdpile Singham Returns even be called a movie except by a large pack of Neanderthals for whom the sight of one adult ape battering another’s skull is a trigger for screaming howls of ecstasy (yielding Rs 100-crore to the producers in five days).
So as a purgatory exercise, I fell back upon my routine of seeking solace in a couple of fine films.
This time I discovered Sergei Loznitsa, a little known maker of Russian films.
Loznitsa is, of course, a name familiar to discerning moviegoers in Europe and North America but in India he’s unknown material.
A documentary maker from Ukraine, Sergei Loznitsa is a relative newcomer to the feature film business.
Loznitsa toiled as a documentary filmmaker for 15 years before venturing into feature films.
His first feature film was Schaste moe (My Joy), which came out in 2010.
After a warm reception from critics, Loznitsa followed with V tumane (In the Fog) in 2012. This film too attracted accolades from connoiseurs of classy films.
Thanks to Netflix, I watched both Russian films (with English subtitles) recently.
To say I was delighted with both films would be an understatement.
Set in different eras, the two films are united in their dark gaze on humanity and remarkable for the brilliant craftsmanship Loznitsa brings to the screen.
The stories, centering around everyday violence, corruption and callousness that place little value on human life, are powerful and a telling social commentary on Russia/Ukraine, and by extension on the world itself.
I sat back and delighted in the acting, photography and screenplay of both films.
Neither of the films is in a hurry (even the shots are drawn out).
They take their own sweet time to get to the end but not for one moment did I feel bored.
As I’ve said often, there are only good films and bad films. Not long or short films.
Of the two movies, Schaste moe (My Joy) is the more complex and compelling one.
Unless you pay careful attention, you’re inclined to be quickly adrift with this film.
At first glance, it would appear as if the movie was merely a collection of different disconnected incidents.