While Gehraiyaan dominated the conversation this month,
there were a few more films that went unnoticed. Our intension is to bring to you the best and the greatest (and hopefully most diverse) films and, this time, one
show to see this month.
A festival standout from one of our brightest young
filmmakers, a short from one of the GOATs, a first documentary from an Oscar
winner, and an unexpected triumph in a genre that has grown increasingly
irrelevant in recent years are among February’s picks.
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Dhuin — Jio MAMI Mumbai Film
Dhuin is a
brilliant sophomore effort from Achal Mishra, the director of Ghamak Ghar, in
which the gifted filmmaker brilliantly portrays the disintegration of one man’s
ambitions and goals in an effortless 50 minutes. Dhuin is half tale about
modern India, and part neo-realist homage to those who dwell on the margins,
shot in the Academy Ratio and charmingly performed by young actors whose raw
techniques offer the film an aura of genuineness.
Cow — MUBI
Director Andrea Arnold’s documentary, which is essentially a
silent picture that covers the length and breadth of existence, portrays the
lives of two cows on a Surrey farm with searing tenderness. Arnold delivers
deep comments about life and death without a single talking head or really,
much human presence at all and bookends the astonishing picture with some of
the most affecting footage you’ll see this year.
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Kimi — Amazon Prime Video
Another year, another Steven Soderbergh picture that didn’t
get the recognition it deserved. However, it’s possible that the director is to
fault for putting the standard so high. Even something that would have been a
game-changer for a less-experienced director is just recognised with a shrug
when he’s calling the shots since he’s constantly good. It’s available on Prime
Video; check it out.
I Want You Back — Amazon Prime
While you’re there, why don’t you cleanse your palate with
one of the year’s most wonderful American romantic comedies? I Want You Back,
starring Charlie Day and Jenny Slate as recently-dumped 30-somethings who band
together to wreak revenge on their ex-lovers, makes up for its predictable
premise with smart writing and terrific performances from the entire cast, not
just the lead couple.
Life is But a Dream — YouTube
A 20-minute short from Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) that starts
off as a horror film, then changes into a romance, and finally ends up as a
fantasy? Please add me to the list. Wait, there’s psychedelic graphics and
musical interludes? Please take my money! You say it’s free? You’re simply
putting me on now. And you’re telling me he used an iPhone to film it? I’ll be
damned if I don’t do anything.
Nightmare Alley — Hulu and HBO
Max in the US
It’s strange to call a Guillermo del Toro film featuring a
slew of A-listers ‘underrated,’ but it’s true. The director’s follow-up to The
Shape of Water, which won Best Picture, is devoid of his trademark creatures,
but don’t be misled by Bradley Cooper’s good looks. In the extravagant film
noir, the actress leads a formidable cast that is both beautiful to look at and
impossible to dismiss.
Severance — Apple TV+
Every title on Apple TV+ can be classified as ‘understood’
simply because it is an Apple TV+ original. However, not every Apple TV+ title
can be classified as ‘underrated.’ Severance is ambitious and entertaining,
coolly plotted but with a golden heart, and it debuted with one of the most
flawless first seasons of television ever produced. It’s certainly unmissable.
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Red Rocket — Available to rent
and purchase in the US
Director Sean Baker’s Red Rocket contains not one but two
star-making turns, making it perhaps the biggest Oscar snub this year. In this
funny-but-slightly-inappropriate picture about the forgotten ones, the type of
people Baker has always had a strong empathy for, Simon Rex and Suzanna Son are
superb as a rejected porn star and his young object of desire.
Pleasure — Available to rent
and purchase in Sweden
In many ways, Ninja Thyberg’s insightful film on the
American porn industry is similar to Sean Baker’s films in that it has a cast
of non-actors, presents a genuinely empathetic story about characters who are
typically overlooked in cinema, and has a chaotic appeal. Pleasure, like Red
Rocket, is set against the filthy adult entertainment industry, but there’s
little doubt that star Sofia Kappel, like Simon Rex, has a bright career ahead
of her if she wants it.