Weekend Reccos: Pop Culture Picks on Colour and Travel

Let the festivity flow into the weekend, with our list of films celebrating the wondrous world of colour in all its glory.

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Left to Right: Stills from The Blue Umbrella (2005) and The French Dispatch (2021)

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The Last Color (2019)

Directed and produced by renowned culinary expert Chef Vikas Khanna, the film is based on the chef’s book of the same name. While Holi is an overarching theme of the narrative, set in the religious heart of Varanasi, the film explores sensitive themes such as archaic customs involving widows, caste dynamics in the modern day, the treatment of mainstream society of the trans community and the vulnerability of the millions of destitute kids on our streets. A friendship blossoms between Chhoti, a tightrope walker and flower seller, and a widow Noor, on the streets of the ancient city. Finding solace in each other’s company, Chhoti shares her zest for life with Noor while the older woman shares her most precious memories of the festival of colours with the child. A subplot of Chhoti’s trans friend Anarkali, being harassed by the police, and her subsequent death at their hands, plays out as a means to shed light on the cruelties visited upon those without agency by established societal powers. Although Chhoti promises to help Noor experience colours once again, it remains unfulfilled as Noor passes the evening before Holi. There is some satisfaction to be had in the culmination of the narrative, as Chhoti grows up to be a lawyer who successfully wins a case that could potentially result in better rehabilitation for the most vulnerable.

Samarpan Bhowmik

Style Wars (1983)

This documentary peels back the colourful layers of NYC’s graffiti subculture of the late 1970s and early ‘80s, the film crew dipping below the surface of the city, into the steel underbelly where young ‘writers’—as they call themselves—search for parked trains to ‘bomb’ with their art. This examination of the halcyon days of this form of street expression captures the scope of its interaction with the people of NYC. There are vignettes of Major Edward Koch bizarrely comparing graffiti to confidence games like ‘three-card monte,’ going on the assert it is “destroying our lifestyle”; close-ups of poignant tags, like “just a kid growing up”; scenes of a mother voicing her concern to her writer son, while he earnestly tells the camera, “It’s a matter of knowing that I can do it…that we can read it.” The lens does well to focus on the relationships between writers, from ‘burners’ who crudely and obsessively tag over others’ art to tender moments—one being the beaming face of a 14-year-old artist as his 16-year-old mentor says, “When he gets to my age, he could be the next Picasso.”

—Julian Manning

Loving Vincent (2017)

This experimental drama about the widely celebrated and loved Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, is narrated through 62,450 (yes, that many) digitally rendered paintings, all spun off from 120 of the troubled artist’s own body of work. The film’s events take place a year after his suicide, with postman Joseph Roulin tasking his son Armand to head to Paris to deliver the painter’s last letter to his brother Theo. Those with an abiding love for van Gogh’s swirling impasto coats and nostalgia-inducing colour palette (think ochre, Prussian blue, raw sienna and ultramarine) will be fascinated no end by the rich visuals. Many of the film’s characters were rendered by transposing their actual portraits made by van Gogh, over actors filmed (Douglas Booth as Armand Roulin and Saoirse Ronan as Marguerite Gachet) against green screens, and the stylistic verisimilitude of the frames is a rare cinematic achievement.

—Prannay Pathak

 

Weekend Reccos: Pop Culture Picks On Colour And Travel

Douglas Booth as Armand Roulin in Loving Vincent (2017)

 

The Blue Umbrella (2005)

Few filmmakers in India possess the kind of craft of storytelling that Bollywood auteur Vishal Bhardwaj is known for. A year before he struck gold with Omkara, the first instalment of his acclaimed Shakespeare trilogy, this film about a chirpy nine-year-old from a pretty Himalayan village and her foil—a sneaky, bumbling shopkeeper played by a top-notch Pankaj Kapur—is a heartfelt parable about greed, innocence and human nature. Adapted from Ruskin Bond’s 1980 novel of the same name, the film follows little Biniya’s discovery of a Japanese umbrella, which is given to her by a tourist in return for her amulet. The attention and envy this acquisition causes to the shopkeeper Khatri and his assistant Rajaram and the shenanigans that follow, forms the rest of the film.

—Prannay Pathak

The French Dispatch ( 2021)

Like always, the visual appeal of Wes Anderson films stands strong with pastel-hued shots and crisp cinematography. The French Dispatch, one of the auteur’s finest works, makes the audience step into the pages of three stories from the last issue of the eponymous magazine. The first revolves around a painter in prison, the second takes to the streets of the fictional town Ennui-sur-Blasé for a whimsical student protest and the third profiles a legendary chef involving a thrilling heist. Framed like an anthology, it takes a double-take to skim over every detail Anderson meticulously covers. With frequently switches to black and white frames, Robert Yeoman’s cinematography promises an engaging ride through the quick-paced film with mischievous spectacles in low light and quirky costume and set designs.

—Muskaan Gupta

 

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