The Ritual

05/27/2012

India / 1977 / Kannada

Directed by Girish Kasaravalli

With Meena Kuttappa, Ajith Kumar, Ramaswamy Iyengar

Still from 'Ghatashraddha'The sharp tones of the drums ring slowly, with insensate determination, cymbals crashing in sympathy. Voices merge, sounding out little-understood passages from antiquity. We are in the realm presided over by the priestly brahmins, who read nothing but ancient scriptures, and conduct the rituals so integral to the daily lives of Hindus. At this temple there is a religious school where young men spend their lives training to be priests. The Upadhyay, or head of the school, is a soft-spoken old man who lives with his grown-up daughter, Yamuna, and two young students who are his charges. Shambhatta, a brahmin from a nearby village, brings his young son, Nami, to become a student at the school. Upon the boy’s transformation from an effete youngster into a true student (shaven-headed, cloth-swaddled, string-wearing, etc.), so too does his countenance change, from bright and vacantly youthful, to awed and searching, a world of mystery having opened up before his eyes. Read the rest of this entry »

Vacas

05/13/2012

Spain / 1992 / Spanish

Directed by Julio Médem

With Carmelo Gómez, Ana Torrent, Kandido Uranga

Still from 'Vacas'An axe-wielding man stands in the middle of a glade, athletically hacking away at the tree stump on which he stands, his platform dwindling with each furious stroke. The wedges of wood litter the ground, covering up the fern blanket beneath him. His solitude and absorption are strangely menacing in themselves, his concentrated, up and down motion without an obvious point to it. It is 1875, and the woodcutter, Manuel Irigibel, subsequently finds himself thrown onto the field of battle. There he encounters Carmelo, a new father and member of a neighboring family. Manuel seems reluctant to pass on tidings of the man’s newborn son, either because he senses that his neighbor is doomed never to see the boy, or because of some nagging, clan-based repulsion. Read the rest of this entry »