The Wind Rises (2013) - A visual treat with a tender heart

The animation world will always be indebted to Hayao Miyazaki. He’s the Kurosawa of animation films. Miyazaki’s last creation is a tale about love for life and an aircraft designer’s obsession with the airplanes. The film is loosely based on the life of Japanese aeronautical engineer, Jiro Horikoshi, who played a crucial role in shaping Japan’s aeronautical industry. The characters in the film are truly in love with their craft just like Miyazaki himself.

I always feel sad while watching even some of the more popular animation films from the west as it gives me an impression that animation is nothing more than just a plaything for them that helps their characters perform some wacky acts that may not be possible with real people behind a camera. The westerners mostly end up overdoing the animation while bombarding the viewer with as many tricks to impress as possible. The end product often seems like a mess and animation movies seem to be nothing more than a plaything.

Contrary, to the west the animations films from the east are so much down to earth, grounded and imagined with realism. Japanese don’t force a frame after another on you but let you rather ponder on the moment and move from one moment to another with grace. The Wind Rises, in this regard  is a perfect contrast to the western style. It makes us realize that animation characters can be more real than real.

The film has a lyrical tone to it and celebrates the life of its protagonist from his childhood to youth. It’s a character with hardly any flaws and has a heart of gold. However, the film also has achingly sad undertones to it given to the fact that the airplanes Hiro would end up developing will be nothing more than objects of mass destruction. Hiro falls in love with Naoko, who had been secretly longing for him since they first met years ago, however, she has tuberculosis and is destined to die soon.  Their love for each other seems to be beautiful and tragic at the same time, which perhaps is a reality of life itself.

Miyazaki’s last film is a beautiful portrayal of passion, obsession, dreams, vision and love. I loved this film to the very core of it and would like to take this opportunity to thank the Japanese master for showing us that animation can be ethereal and earthly at the same time. 

11 great foreign films I bet you haven't seen yet

Films across the globe tell us a lot about life in different parts of the world. They offer us an insight into the life and thought of people, who are in some ways similar to us and in other ways different. While most of you must have seen Life is Beautiful, Amelie, Oldboy and other more popular foreign films there are still hundreds of films we haven't seen that deserve our attention. We present to you 11 such beautiful films that you may haven't seen yet, but really should.

Postmen in the Mountains (1999) 

Shot in the picturesque locations of Hunan province this Chinese film meditates and ponders over the life and functions of a postman who has served people for decades and has now decided to hand over his work to his son. The son is reluctant to take up the job as it is painstaking and has no reward. While the father and son embark upon a final journey together that takes days through the treacherous terrain, the son comes to appreciate his father's profession, which needs patience, resolve and love for the fellow people. The film tells us that sometimes simple joys of life can transcend most materialistic gains in the world and the secret to satisfaction is to serve.

The Way Home (2002)

After a young boy's mother loses her job she leaves him to his mute grandmother. The city-born Sang-woo though has little regard for his grandmother and considers her a freak as she's very old and looks ugly. The grandmother is poor and toils hard throughout the day to carry water to her hilltop house and sells vegetables in the city for livelihood. The film beautifully contrasts the simplicity and compassion of rural people to the shallowness of city dwellers. The grandmother's unconditional love eventually wins over her difficult grandson and when the day comes for Sang-woo to return back he's unable to hide his love for his grandmother, realizing he might not even see her again.

Divided We Fall (2000)

Divided We Fall is a Czech film about Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia where a husband and wife named Joseph and Marie try to hide a Jew friend in their house, who has run away from a concentration camp. While they cannot let their friend fall prey to the hands of German soldiers they are also afraid of being caught and killed for the same. They are most afraid of a so-called friend named, Horst, who is a Nazi collaborator and has his eyes on Marie. To get rid of Horst, Joseph tells him that Marie is pregnant though he suffers from infertility. Joseph requests his Jew friend to sleep with his wife in his own house. The film concludes with war coming to an end and Marie giving birth to a child and Joseph's Jew friend saving him as well as Horst, who are accused of being Nazi collaborators. The film takes a humorous dig at war as to how it evokes fear and evil in people and changes them during war time.

The Bird People in China (1998) 

A Japanese salaryman, Wada travels to interiors of China on behalf of his company to strike a deal with local village men for a jade vein (precious stones). On reaching China, Wada realizes the he will be accompanied by Ujiie, who is a member of  yakuza that wants to rake in the profits made by Wada's company from the deal. However, as the journey ensues, it changes the objectives of the two men who are intrigued by a group of people rumored to have the power to fly. The film portrays the inner conflicts of the two characters and is shot amidst the breathtaking Chinese landscape.

Udaan (2010)

When a 16 year old Rohan is expelled from his school for watching porn, he doesn't realize he has a tougher trail ahead. Returning home to his widowed father he comes to know about his half-brother, Arjun who is just 6 years old. Rohan has to face the bullying of his abusive father who  runs a steel factory. The soft-spoken Rohan is unable to show resentment to his stern father due to fear, however, eventually he manages to gather courage to speak up to him. When the father decides to remarry again and send 6-year old Arjun to a boarding school, Rohan decides to take Arjun with him leaving his home forever. The film is about Rohan's metamorphosis from an innocent 16-year old to an individual who eventually overcomes the fear of his father and takes a quantum leap to freedom.

Late Marriage (2001)

Late Marriage is an Israeli film that centers around Zaza, a 31 year old pursuing his PhD. His parents are desperate to marry him and are on the scout for the same. The film starts at a would-be match's house, a girl not only beautiful but much younger than Zaza. He looks  uninterested in the whole ceremony, the reason for which we come to know later as he is involved with a 34-year old Judith, who is not only beautiful but also a divorcee with a daughter. Judith loves him but knows his parents would never agree for the same. What ensues is a violent confrontation between Judith and Zaza'a family. Late Marriage is funny and heartbreaking at the same time. It's a story about constant conflict between love and limiting traditions that cannot be surpassed.

5 Centimeters Per Second (2007)

5 Centimeters Per Second is an animation film from Japan that takes you through the life of Takaki Toono as a boy, adolescent and a young man. The film explores the intimacy and friendship between Takaki and his schoolmate Akari, their moving away from each other and longing for each other's company and Takaki's aching grief and helplessness to be one with her again. One of the most visually brilliant animations ever made, 5 centimeters Per Second has a poetic touch and lingers on every moment rather than dazzling you with anime overdose (which is more of an American style). The film ponders over the transient nature of life and how we cannot hold on to the most beautiful moments of our life no matter how hard we try.

Still Walking (2008) 

A story about a Japanese family that unites once in a year to commemorate the death of the eldest son, who drowned while trying to save another boy. While the mother enthusiastically does preparations for her visiting son, daughter and their families, she still misses her dead son and longs for him. The father and son have a dysfunctional relationship and one can feel the tension between the two, while the daughter wants to move in with her parents. The film gives us insight into each of its characters, their flaws, and their bonding, despite of some tension among them. Still Walking will not dazzle but rather surprise you with its sincere and simple approach to its character study and contemplation on life.

Samsara (2001)

Samsara is a film about Tashi, a young monk who has recently come to monastery after years of meditation in a secluded place. However, as youth dawns on Tashi, he is attracted towards the world and wants to search for truth by living in it. Tashi argues that if samsara is nirvana (there is an old Buddhist saying "Samsara (world) is enlightenment and enlightenment is world") then it must be explored by being part of the world itself. However, it is his desire for a village girl, Pema that makes him abandon a monk's life. Tashi is married, has a child, and has a beautiful relationship with his wife, but influenced by lust he end's up having sex with his female servant. When Pema catches him in action, Tashi is ashamed and he realizes that it was the same desire that made him abandon the life of a monk. Shot in the breathtaking landscape of Ladakh, Samsara is a treat to senses and offers an insight into the fickle nature of mind.

The Eel (1997) 

Yamashita is a white-collared simpleton, who has a beautiful, affectionate wife. He has a passion for fishing and often often goes out at night for the same. One of these days he finds a note that hints at his wife's infidelity. Yamashita grows curious and returns early to find out the truth for himself. Ravaged on finding his wife with someone else on his bed he kills them both. Yamashita feels the guilt of murdering his wife and befriends an eel with whom he shares his emotions. It is difficult for him to return to normal life but the twists and turns of life re-initiate him.

Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (2001)

A middle-aged man is forced to rethink about his life after he loses his job as an architect and his wife files for divorce along with children's custody. Yosuke, the film's protagonist travels to a small fishing village where he starts working as a fisherman. An old man tells him about a house in the village where some secret treasure is buried. However, he soon realizes the old man's metaphor and gets involved romantically with the young woman in the house. The film explores how libido can rejuvenate life and man's eternal want for it.

5 awesome movies about pre-teen love

If you're an adult now you may often remember your awesome days as an early teenager and how you perceived the world and enjoyed life at that stage. For many of us love dawns to our lives much earlier than the others. Many of you might even remember your first crush, that girl or boy you just looked at and said wow! But let's be frank love hurts, but then it also elevates. We have tried to compile a list of some out-of-the-box, honest pre-teen films that focus on the romance and love at this tender age.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) 

I have great regards for Wes Anderson as he truly is a genius in his own niche. Anderson loves vibrant colors and most of his films are based on teenagers. Moonrise Kingdom is a love story about Sam and Suzy, who are strange, beautiful, confused and are not happy in their respective homes. It is a love at first sight when Sam straight away asks Suzy " .. and what kind of bird are you?", who is playing as raven on the stage. They eventually decide to run away together seeking refuge on the other shore of the island they live in. Both develop a liking for each other while understanding the frustrations of their current life situations (Sam is orphan while Suzy's parents are on the verge of a divorce). Jared Gilman (Sam) and Kara Hayward (Suzy) have rendered life to their characters on-screen and their chemistry just strikes magic.

Submarine (2010)

Just like a submarine takes you deep down into the remote, lonely ocean, this film is an exploration into the life of Oliver Tate, who meets Jordana by accident and both strike a bond together. The two characters are totally opposite with Oliver being an introvert, self-indulgent youngster and Jordana being a beautiful girl, who is angry and likes to bully others. Oliver, though struggles to keep his promise to be the best boyfriend in the world, while fighting with his own fears and dealing with problems in his own family. He realizes his love for Jordana and is heartbroken in the end.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an oddly named beautifully acted film that is based on a novel by Stephen Chbosky, who surprisingly is also the director of the film. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about Charlie a handsome, smart loner, who is suffering from nervous disorders after his best friend's death. He's into the freshman year of the school and has no friends. He somehow befriends two seniors Emma and Patrick. Charlie slowly falls for Emma, but is unable to express his feelings for her. Both of them struggle to come together as they hop from one relationship to another. Both of them confront each other in the end and confess their true feeling for each other. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a poignant love affair that
makes you remember friendship, love and longing.

Little Manhattan (2005)

"O God!Why did I fall in love?", the truth seems to have transcended early to the 11 years old Gabe, who is also the protagonist of the film. Gabe gets infatuated towards Rosemary in his karate classes and madly falls in love with her in their following meetings. The film beautifully captures the torment and beauty of this one side love from Gabe, who eventually comes to terms with the truth and manages to save the falling apart marriage of his parents.

Baran (2001)

Among all human emotions love is supreme-most because it transforms its recipient. This film from Iran by Majid Majidi, who has always shown us the innocent, truthful side of life in Iran (which is quite contrary to our perception about middle-east) is about hot-headed Lateef, who works at the construction site. Lateef is replaced by Rahmat, a girl disguised as boy and Lateef in spite tries to hurt him. Lateef soon realizes that Rehmat in in fact a girl and feels pity for her. The girl's father is unable to work due an accident and the girl hopelessly switches from one job to another (from lifting stones to serving tea) to make the ends meet. Lateef, who by now has fallen in love with her decides to give his entire savings to her but fate has something else in store for him. Baran, is a true heartfelt love story that reveals the profound ways of Majidi's storytelling.