I’ve seen each of the films in the Saw franchise. I was impressed with the first one and its use of narrative information withheld from both the characters and the audience (until the plot-twist end). The second one wasn’t too disappointing. I reviewed the third one for FilmThreat during its theatrical run. I don’t remember my reaction to the fourth one, but the fifth Saw film was pretty amazing in the way it weaved together more subplots and flashbacks. Saw VI is the most blatantly political. The central character is a head at a health insurance company. Jigsaw’s wife has a decent amount of screentime and she plays a very important and spectatorially pleasurable role. And that’s all I’m going to say about it.
Mira Nair spoke at my alma mater when I was in second semester of grad school (in 2006). What I found especially memorable about that talk was how she decides whether or not to accept a directing offer.
1. If there is someone else who can direct it, then she won’t.
2. Would she want to spend a year or more in the world of the film & obsesses about it.
3. Is it political.
She said something else that I really liked, which was that one shouldn’t view doing something as a step to something else. Rather, one needs to do the present task fully and completely and then one will be able to see where it can lead.
My motivation to see it had been solely on account of Nair’s participation. I ended up liking Amelia a lot more than I thought I would. Instead of lathering, rinsing, and reprising most of Matt Sorrento’s review of Amelia, I’m just going to urge you to read it here. I’d like to single out the following excerpt, though:
The film must address the Earhart’s unresolved tragedy, when her plane went missing after it could not make radio contact. Thus, Nair uses Amelia’s last flight – one around the world, the grandest travelogue of them all – as the film’s framing device. This flashback structure offers a mandatory sense of doom while celebrating the pilot’s legacy, and thus a conventional flashback device feels not at all dusty.
I’ve seen many of Mira Nair’s films. Monsoon Wedding (2001) was my first. I rented Kama Sutra (1996) soon after. I watched Vanity Fair in NYC in 2004. Mississippi Masala (1991) I saw in grad school. I reviewed The Namesake (2006) for FilmThreat. Even when the art direction, visual style, and cinematography complements the film itself narratively or otherwise, Nair’s creative echo is unmistakable. I’ve always admired Ang Lee’s ability to magnify the non-verbal communications that occur between his characters through the staging, framing, and editing of conversations. Mira Nair has a very similar talent. Her aesthetic tendencies may linger closer to the side of reverie, but she doesn’t rose-tint the world.
Take India Cabaret (1985) for example. Semiotically, there isn’t a whole lot of diamonds and pearls flowing through the course of this documentary on strippers in a night club in India. There is no allure of sophistication, no awesome elegance. And yet, Nair’s cinematic and storytelling voice locates the grace in the saddest and most unenviable situations. Whether it’s visual, vocal, or something perceived as the result of juxtaposing sights and sounds, there’s consistently a moment when all that is wrong about and for the people in front of the camera suddenly loses its oppressive power.
India Cabaret is part of the special features in the Criterion Collection treatment of Monsoon Wedding.
Click here to read NPR’s article on Mira Nair and the process of making Amelia.
pic creds: yahoo movies