The Untouchables

Brian De Palma

This period film takes us to the 1930s, the time of Chicago gang leader, Al Capone played brilliantly by Robert de Niro. The coming together of talented actors, Kevin Costner as agent Eliot Ness, Sean Connery as officer Jimmy Malone, and Andy Garcia as trainee George Stone forming a special prohibition team fighting to bring in Al Capone, essaying strong roles backed by powerful screenplay and precise editing, makes this one of my favourites.

The Virgin Spring

Ingmar Bergman

In a medieval Swedish town, an innocent girl Karin on her way to church, accompanied by her maid Ingeri, is raped and murdered in the forest by two goat herdsmen watched by an accompanying herd boy. Ingeri is a silent witness to the rape. The culprits then reach the town and unknowingly seek shelter in the girl’s house. The herdsmen try to sell Karin’s clothes to her mother. The father (Max von Sydow), knowing the truth, then ruthlessly plans and takes revenge by killing the three herdsmen. The movie is a lyrical story of human character from black (the two herdsmen) to white (Karin) and shades of grey (the maid, the herd boy, the parents). Bergman’s power of story-telling and artistry in black and white is magical.

Philadelphia

Jonathan Demme

The riveting performances of Tom Hanks as the AIDS stricken lawyer fighting for justice and of Denzel Washington as his personal lawyer, makes Philadelphia a must see movie. This was the period when the borders of AIDS were being defined. The film does just that. The cameo by Antonio Banderas as Hank’s caring homosexual partner is unforgettable.

The Shawshank Redemption

Frank Darabont

The sequence of incidents that happen to banker Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins) who is wrongfully interned in the Shawshank State penitentiary is narrated by Morgan Freeman, playing his prison-mate, Ellis Boyd Redding. The movie looks at the psyche of the older inmates unable to adjust to a free world when on parole and the young banker’s hope to live a free life, something the prison cannot take from him. How he schemes with a banker’s precision the destruction of the brutal prison warden, accumulates wealth for his future and plans his escape from the penitentiary forms for compelling viewing.

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

Cristi Puiu

This realistic Romanian movie leaves you numb with sadness, anger and underlying tragic humour. The incredible performance of Ion Fiscuteanu as the sick old man left to the mercy of a paramedic and over-worked doctors should be commended. It is the story of a long, cold night of human misery laced with black humour. The film brought Fiscuteanu worldwide acclaim and proved to be his swan song. He died of cancer in 2007.

Those that almost made it

To Sir, with love: James Clavell

The Sound of Music: Robert Wise

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas: Mark Herman

Enter The Dragon: Robert Clouse

Hotel Rwanda: Terry George

Iruvar: Mani Ratnam

J. Rajasekharan Nair is a professor at the Department of Fisheries Resource Management, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, Kochi.

The name of the movie The Virgin Spring was corrected.

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My five…September 20, 2012

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