By the early 1930s, the talkies were a global phenomenon. In the United States, they helped secure Hollywood's position as one of the world's most powerful cultural/commercial systems. In Europe (and, to a lesser degree, elsewhere) the new development was treated with suspicion by many filmmakers and critics, who worried that a focus on dialogue would subvert the unique aesthetic virtues of soundless cinema. In Japan, where the popular film tradition integrated silent movie and live vocal performance, talking pictures were slow to take root. In India, sound was the transformative element that led to the rapid expansion of the nation's film industry—the most productive such industry in the world since the early 1960s.
Would contemporary audiences rate sound over image? I guess it depends on where they come from, and where they might someday find they belong...
Dir. Mira Nair
Based on a novel of the same name by Jhumpa Lahiri, I found I could relate a tad too much to the tale of a Bengali family "displaced" in/to America. Having said that, I was surprised to hear from a non-displaced fellow student that he enjoyed the film and especially like the fact that there were so many layers to a simple story. My favourite scene remains the one where the confused son of the family, Gogol shaves off his head after the sudden death of his father...tears would have been cliche. Long live storytelling!
The Science of Sleep
Dir. Michel Gondry
I wish it were called "The Art of Sleep". Having a glass of wine before going into the cinema was the best thing I could have done, for I'm sure it accentuated the blurring of reality and dreams that the film indulged in so ruthlessly, yet so artistically. Now I'm convinced dreams are made of cellophane, and cars of cardboard. If all this sounds/looks like a puzzle, I'll give you a clue - it is by the same "freak" who co-directed "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind".
An Autumn Afternoon
Dir. Yasujiro Ozu
Set in post-war Japan, this film is as Japanese as they come, yet is surprisingly accessible. For those not familiar with Ozu, his work has won him several Cannes-type awards. His filmmaking style is often minimalistic, using low camera angles and interior spaces - this strikes me as the best technique to capture daily life in Japan at a time of transition, when people are wearing suits and dresses, yet sitting on the floor. But with nagging wives and guys' night outs, I'm sure the film transcends space and time.
Dir. Richard Linklater
I feel proud to include these "romantic comedies" in my recently watched films list. Proud because the romance, especially in the sequel, seemed "real" (at least it was shot in real time). I loved it that it ended without a wedding, or a kiss, or a hug. Why don't the citizens and denizens of Hollywood make more films like these?