It is said that the female gender is ten times more likely to suffer mental disorders than the male. So much so that the word ‘hysteria’ was coined from the same root as the word ‘hysterectomy’. A few filmmakers, perpetually fascinated with the female gender and its enigma, try to explore and depict this in their movies.

There are three films I can think of that center around this subject.

* Through a glass darkly – Part of Bergman’s Faith trilogy, the film shows Karin is going mad and is completely aware of it. Given to Bergman’s trademark dialogues (and monologues), Karin muses on the futility of faith when she can see herself sliding into madness.

* Turkish Delight – Rutger Hauer’s first starring role. The film’s protagonist might be an exuberant sculptor in love with an equally exuberant woman, but the film focuses more on the woman when the joie-de-vivre of both gradually turns into despair.

* Betty Blue – A french film that comes pretty close to being the quintessential film in the ‘woman gone crazy’ genre — if there is such a genre. Again, the woman’s liveliness is only the crest of her manic-depressive cycle, so the man in love gets a fair helping of both phases.

Apart from the depressing subject matter, all three movies are a pleasure to watch. ‘Through a glass…’ for Nyquist’s black-and-white cinematography, and the other two for their share of unashamed nudity. ‘Betty Blue’, with its brilliant summertime colors and eccentric characters, is quite a visual treat on High-Def.

There are two nightmares I had as a child that I still remember. They both came during a fevered sleep.

S. was our housemaid and she came and washed clothes and cleaned the house everyday. In one of my nightmares, S. was washing our clothes on a big stone placed in the center of a concrete platform. The platform was designed to drain water from the washing into a small gutter. As S. was beating my mother’s sarees on ths stone , a strange thing happened; the colors of the saree began to fade and run into the gutter. And along with it, S.

Imagine a three-dimensional person turned into a two-dimensional palette of red, purple and black, and dissolving into oblivion. This was my own ‘Scream’ and scream I did, when I woke up in the middle of the night.

A few weeks ago, I watched a movie that came close to representing what existential horror was. After watching ‘Pulse’ I was left with an incredible sadness, one that lingered for some days before dissipating.

There were no weird-eyed freaks or girls of the Japanese horror genre in this movie. It was more of a meditation on loneliness combined with a backstory based on the supernatural. What does my dream have to do with Pulse? It seems that the difference between existing and not-existing is just one of dimensions – three to two, and then you’re gone.

This is how you remake a classic. I can’t understand why opening-week sales were low for the film. Maybe the continuous snowfall around most parts of the US had something to do with it?

Serkis should get an Oscar for again playing a CGI part to perfection. Something I read in ‘Rolling Stone’ made me realize how much effort had gone into playing Kong. Gorillas are known for their strict rules on eye-contact. Jackson and Serkis had to actually plan the scenes where Kong made eye contact with anyone else.

The only bad things about King Kong – too many monsters and Jack Black. Seriously, I don’t need a huge gorilla, half the known dinosaur genus, giant crickets and head-swallowing worm-things to make me watch the movie. I also didn’t need Jack Black saying,”Beauty killed the beast” like it was the opening line of a Tenacious-D song.

Naomi’s ‘O’ face (while screaming) and Kong atop Empire State would’ve done the trick.

The second part of my picks for the east-asian film genre are much less shocking than their Japanese counterparts, yet they are wonderfully strange and must-sees for anyone who’s looking for some variety in his/her weekend viewing.

1. ‘Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring’: One of the simplest but most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. I would compare it with ‘The Seventh Seal’ for its straight-forwardness but the amount of monologues, dialogues and conversation in ‘Spring, summer…’ is much, much lesser. There are no flashy gimmicks, no technical wizardry. If there was a movie that could be called the perfect Buddhist film, then this would be it. Much of the story takes place on a lake. The lake with the surrounding scenery becomes a metaphor for life. If you don’t want any surprises in a film, but a linear, no-frills story that speaks to you in powerful, simple ways, then this is the one for you.
My Rating: armchairs out of 5

2. ‘3-Iron’: Another movie by the director of ‘Spring, Summer…’, Kim Ki-Duk. Kim takes on the weird this time, and plays with ideas that are bizarre but pleasing at the same time. A hero who never speaks with the heroine, more buddhist imagery, and death by golf-balls – these are the elements that make this a delight to watch.
My Rating: out of 5

3. ‘Oldboy’: I saved the best for last. It’s the movie Tarantino would’ve made, if Tarantino had been a philosophy professor. The director of Oldboy, Chan Wook Park, used to be one and it shows through in his creation. It’s as exciting as a whodunit, but the story revolves around the whydunit. When the revelation comes, you realize that no one has gone this far before. Even if the setup seems too fantastic, the payoff in terms of action and style is well worth it.
My Rating: out of 5

Occasionally, I browse the forums on Rottentomatoes, where everyone’s an armchair film critic and rates movies, as if it mattered to the rest of the world what he/she thought about ‘Madagascar’. For example, in this deep thread about Colin Farrell’s and Vin Diesel’s acting credentials:

I figured it’s time I rated my own list of movies, and I wanted it to be about ones that come from a certain portion of the world: East Asia. We’ve all seen the Ringu’s and the Grudge’s and the Dark Water’s that get remade, but there’s a whole slew of them that are just too disturbingly strange to be forgotten.

Here’s my favorites:

1. ‘Audition’: My first Takashi Miike film. What starts out as a romantic melodrama, turns into an absolute nightmare halfway through. Miike uses an interesting gimmick at the end. In horror movies, there’s usually a scene that’s extremely scary, but turns out to be a dream. In Audition, he does the reverse, and uses an idyllic dream sequence in the midst of … well, you have to watch it.

What I learnt: When a cute Japanese girl says ‘Kuru Kuru Kuru’ to you, STAY AWAY!
My Rating: armchairs out of 5

2. ‘Ichi the Killer’: Miike’s obsession with the Yakuza continues, and the movie’s filled with blood and gore, the way Quentin Tarantino’s movies are not; the blood-letting is not fun to watch. Here’s a review that summarizes the movie well.

What I learnt: Man-seed can be put to creative use in the opening credits sequence of a movie.
My Rating: out of 5

3. ‘Visitor Q’: If you’ve watched this , you can be sure that all other exploitation movies made in the future will pale in comparison to the number of taboos depicted and broken in this single one. The strangest thing about Visitor Q is that the actions of the characters make perfect sense in the logic of the movie. Beneath the jaw-dropping scenes, lies a logical solution to a family crisis.

What I learnt: Necrophilia, coprophilia, incest, and a lactation fetish can make a perfectly sweet ‘family’ outing.
My Rating: out of 5