• A pre-code sex comedy is just as outrageous as it sounds. But Lubitsch’s sense of suggestion is so subtle and delicate that it suffuses the whole film, colouring ordinary lines and sequences with sexual charge. In another musical, the morning-after breakfast song, “Magic in the Muffin”, might pass largely without a guffaw. Every object becomes a sexual symbol, its value predicated on the fact that the connection isn’t made concrete. The whole movie talks about only one thing—the perils of testicular thought—without actually talking about it.
  • The scene between Colbert and Hopkins is a masterpiece of subversive feminism later reprised by Monroe and Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It’s a bedroom scene in which two young women fight, reconcile and drool over descriptions of their common lover in various stages of undress. They don’t discuss anything but the man, their need for the man, about the sort of song to sing for the man, the kind of lingerie they should wear to please the man. (And it turns out that the man needs nothing more.) And through these rather anti-Bechdel exchanges, they arrive at the film’s most memorable, moving relationship based on recognition of mutual desires and vulnerabilities. Both actors reproduce lines and gestures conceived by men, but their comic genius consists of owning it and making them their own. The scene simply collapses without their intelligence.
  • There’s hardly a funny line in the script, but the film is hysterical. All the comedy derives from the acting (Chevalier alone carries a ridiculous French accent while others speak American), line delivery, découpage and cutting. Seventy-four shots feature opening or closing doors (and countless others have doors and doorways as the backdrop)—every fourth or fifth shot of the film. Besides tying into Lubitsch’s obsession with what goes on behind closed doors, it performs a musical function here. Equally distributed as clusters of 3-6 shots through the film—but never happening during the song sequences, which unfold mostly in single shots—they lend a snappy, dance-like rhythm to the script and impart the viewer a feeling of constant movement.
  • The doors are also a brilliant means to sendup Old World mores, whose chambers of secrets barely conceal a neurotic obsession with sex. (The principle is the same in Polanski’s new film, but the object of obsession there are Jews.) Having spent a decade in America, Lubitsch is evidently taken by the cultural and intellectual directness of his new homeland (a fact that reflects in the stylistic sobriety of his Hollywood pictures). A sense of liberation is palpable in the way he ridicules pre-war European pretensions. The king of a tiny country in Mitteleuropa rues bourgeois power (“A thousand years ago they were even smaller than we. It’s only the last 700 years they’ve got anywhere.”) while his daughter threatens that she’ll marry an American if her wishes aren’t granted. But it’s a double-edged satire, directed as much at American puritanism (the hero is a slacker, womanizer, cheat and a decadent—this is established in the first minute) as European ritual.

George Lucas: “This ain’t gonna be easy”
Steven Spielberg: “Not as easy as it used to be”

Lucas and Spielberg are at it again. After the intensely dramatic Munich, Spielberg freaks out and does what he does best – getting people on their feet. I don’t know why he chose Indiana Jones for that. Probably, he didn’t want to bring in aging sharks or senile aliens. Surprisingly (and commendably), he has banked on Harrison Ford once more to deliver. Does Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008) live up to the expectations set by its first three installments? Yes and No.

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal SkullSpielberg has chosen a very simple plot in order to not distract the audience. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) escapes from of group of commies led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) who are in search of an artifact. Removed from his college for getting involved with the communists, Dr. Jones is called for action by Mutt (ShiaLaBeouf) , the godson of Prof. Oxley (John Hurt), a long time friend. Henry informs him that his mother Mary Williams (Karen Allen) and Prof. Oxley have been kidnapped in South America while in the hunt for a so-called crystal skull. It his up to Jones to hunt for the skull and return it to its proper place. In the journey, he finds that there are others vying for the skull too and discovers his true relationship with his family and friends.

The film promises enough twists and turns required for a franchise such as Indiana Jones till the central act after which the plot takes a back seat and action takes the driver’s (literally!). The last act succumbs to predictability and acts as nothing more than fillers. The characteristic wry wit of Indy is still intact and is charming as ever. There are numerous references to earlier Spielberg films as well. The chaotic party in 1941, the terrorizing truck shots of Duel, shots similar to the massacre the Omaha beach landing in Saving Private Ryan, the famous rear-view shot in Jurassic Park, the best moments of its prequels and even a few beings that look like the grown up versions of E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial!

Expecting a 65-year old Indy to be weaker than his former self is nothing but normal. More of brain work is expected from him during perilous situations. Even Indy expects that early on. But his vulnerability stops there and it seems that no one cares that he is fit to receive pension. Indy seems to go on and on like a 30 year old. Hats off to Harrison Ford for performing those larger than life stunts with the same vigour as he did in the opening installment. Only he could have pulled this off without shattering the audience’s perception of Indiana Jones. Cate Blanchett’s character, Irina Spalko is reminiscent of Yuri of Command & Conquer: Red Alert game. With her cold witch-like eyes, Blanchett is the perfect foil as the megalomaniac Russian scientist. But the character neither has the depth to suit such a performance nor poses any threat to the juggernaut of the protagonist. It was disappointing to see George McHale (Ray Winstone), Indy’s friend, portrayed as a thorough stereotype that one expects only in bottom-of-the-barrel movies such as The Mummy and the like.

Hands down, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull has the best action sequences filmed in recent times. The stunts and the choreography have quality written all over. The production design has deliberately (and effectively) retained the look and feel of the post-war cold era. Spielberg regular Janusz Kaminski , who gave us a glimpse of hell in Saving Private Ryan sizzles in the action sequences. His cinematography has given the director the best possible output for his effort . A definite Academy Award nomination. The other regulars Michael Kahn and John Williams maintain the pace and excitement to support his work.

In this age of special effects, it seems easy to churn out a high-octane action flick and Steven Spielberg knows it by heart. He has put forth his trump card (Indy, of course) into the game. But has relied on it too much that he has neglected the finer aspects of plot and characterization. It is compensated by the other side of the balance with spectacular action and stunt sequences that characterize Indy. But the bottom line is: ” It’s Indiana Jones and what else do you want? Go to the theaters now“.