Edition 57

The Non-English Movie of The Week

Ida (Poland, 2014) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, My rating: 8.5/10]



Winner of numerous awards and a leading contender for this year’s Oscar for the Foreign Language category, ‘Ida’ is a film of high artistic standards. The movie suggests more than it says. The haunting beauty and edge that it creates even for its slow pace are remarkable. Shot in black and white and set in 1960s Poland, the film tells the story of nun who is about to take her vows. She is asked to visit her only surviving relative who happens to be her aunt. Together they take a journey that reveals a lot more than what she had bargained for. There is something timeless about the way this movie has been shot. The movie is interspersed with shots that linger on for long and show only till the chest level of performers on screen. The remaining part of the screen is left for the viewer to marvel at and interpret in myriad ways. ‘Ida’ is almost perfect and one of the best movies of the year.

Movies I Saw This Week

Nightcrawler (2014) [IMDB:8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, My Rating: 8/10]



Jake Gyllenhaal stars in a modern version of ‘Taxi Driver’ as an unemployed overzealous crime scene reporter who makes a killing by being the first on the scene of a crime. He is ably supported by Rene Russo (who is also the wife of director Dan Gilroy) as the dyed in the wool television executive. The film is as much a thriller as it is a study in behavior. It is creepy to listen to the protagonist speak of lessons on management which he has learned from the internet. It is also a commentary on the employment scene in USA where hiring an intern seems to be a new way of not paying for labour. The movie is reminiscent of some of the car scenes in ‘Michael Clayton’, a movie by the director’s brother Tony Gilroy. Watch this edge of the seat suspense drama for Jake Gykkenhaal.

Gone Girl (2014) [ IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, My  Rating: 8/10]



David Fincher is one of the finest directors around who has only made good movies in his career ( a record he can be proud of). He ropes in Ben Affleck and the former Bond girl Rosamund Pike to be the sparring partners in a story about a marriage gone horribly wrong. A husband is a prime suspect in the disappearance of his accomplished wife. Far short of being perfect himself, he has to bail himself out of the quandary. In a story in which the TV channels have a starring role in aiding the flow of the story to the extent that the characters responses are guided by how they will be perceived by the media, the story itself is a commentary on the modern American marriage. Kudos to Rosamund Pike for showing the courage to play a diabolic character. ‘Gone Girl’ is not a shocking film. It is a mini spectacle which is a perverse joy to watch.

Fury (2014) [IMDb: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, My rating: 8.5] Fury-2014-Movie-Banner-Poster


Brad Pitt in ‘Fury’ has the same dialogue that Jake Gyllenhaal has in ‘Nightcrawler’: “I will never ask you to do something I will not do myself.” The setting though, could not be more different. He heads a tank which is going all guns blazing attacking the Germans in the Second World War. The movie focuses on the brutal side of war and the toll it takes on the soldiers in the war. It is not for the faint hearted and is yet another showcase of the acting talent of Brad Pitt who I believe is an underrated actor. ‘Fury’ is one of the must watch movies of the year.

The Inbetweeners 2 (2014) [ IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 71%, My Rating: 6.5]



Following on the success of the mildly entertaining ‘The Inbetweeners’, the sequel takes the bunch of close knit and stupid friends on a trip to Australia where they have a string of adventures and also get lost in the middle of nowhere. Remarkable for its banter and the lightening speed at which the story is delivered, it hardly gives the time for the viewer to think about the logic and plausibility of the tale. This is one movie you cannot accuse of being slow. It is earnest in its attempts to tell what it believes is an entertaining tale. The good part is that it is not wildly off target.

Still Alice (2015) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, My Rating: 7/10]

still alice


Julianne Moore plays a linguistics professor who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. One of the Sony Pictures films to be affected by the epic hacking of the resources there, this movie is all about the performance of Julianne Moore which is difficult to erase from the memory. There is nothing remarkable about the theme itself. Similar movies have been made, the most remarkable one being ‘Away From Her’. This is a movie that deserved a release in theatres and not on the pirate sites. I hope Sony can forgive and forget. Bad puns aside, this is one of the better movies that will be released in 2015.

Lingaa (2014) [IMDB: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 63%, My Rating:5.5] lingaa


The only real Superstar in Indian cinema makes his return after a few years with this movie which tries to tell a story of substance and yet keeps it endearing to legions of fans. The movie makes all the right noises with Rajnikanth being the incarnation of all that can be good with a man. Replete with thinly veiled politics and throwing references to his previous movies, ‘Lingaa’ starts on a promising note (discounting the loopholes in the robbery scene). Soon enough, it takes in far more than it can chew. Essentially the story of a good Samaritan wronged by his own people, the movie is a cocktail of religion, politics and history. It is in the climax that the movie goes overboard and loses the semblance of normalcy that holds the movie together. A terrible score with poor songs by A R Rahman does not help the movie. The movie also suffers from the kind of love for the supposedly golden bygone era in which the kings were great rulers. This for most part of history is far from the truth. Also, the British imperialist has a chance at redemption but cut to the present , and the politician must be summarily eliminated. Watch it if you have nothing worthwhile to do.

Action Jackson (2014) [IMDB: 3.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 46%, My Rating: 0/10]



Sonakshi Sinha’s good luck sign is to see Ajay Devgn with his pants down. Unfortunate.

Documentary Pick of the Week

The Unknown Known (2014) [IMDB: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%, My Rating: 6.5/10]



Confidence and stupidity are a terrible combination. Donald Rumsfeld explained.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Unbroken’ from the “minimally talented” (according to Sony) director Angelina Jolie.

Did you know: For ‘Gone With the Wind’, 1400 actresses were interviewed to play the part of Scarlett O’Hara.

Edition 56

The Non-English Movie of The Week

Goodbye First Love (France, 2011) [ IMDB: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 80%, My rating: 6/10]

Goodbye First Love

This film which had a good run at the festival circuits, is an intimate observation of adolescence and the youthful passion associated with being in love for the first time. Camille and Sullivan fall in love as if they were made for each other. Then Sullivan decides to go on a trip, only to return after eight years. Camille meanwhile has been through an emotionally turbulent period. Will their once indestructible and fervent love stand the test of time? The film is an exploration of how maturity brings change in the thoughts and actions of people. Beautifully shot and competently acted, this film is not a classic by any stretch of imagination but is certainly worth a look.

Movies I Saw This Week

Boyhood (2014)  [ IMDB: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 99%, My rating: 9/10]



A first in the history of cinema, this movie delves into the life of Mason at the age of 5 and follows him till age 18. That would be a normal thing in film making but the filmmakers do the incredible by shooting with the same boy over a course of 12 years. Ellar Coltrane who plays Mason quite literally grows as the movie progresses. Richard Linklater, best known for the ‘Before sunrise/sunset/midnight’ series of movies also ropes in actors who stay committed to the project over such a long course of time. The movie is a coming off age tale and at the risk of sounding overenthusiastic, I can say that there was and never will be such a story. The best part is that the there is a seamlessness about the acting. It feels as if a real life is unfolding in front of you. Kudos to the producers for staying invested in the movie for such a long period. The risks were too many. Certainly one of the best movies of the year and a piece of cinema history to boot.

The Theory of Everything (2014) [IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes:84% My rating: 7/10]



Based on the memoirs of Stephen Hawking’s first wife, the film tells the renowned physicist’s battle with life as he ascends into the pantheon of intellectual greats. At its heart, it is a personal story in which the science part comes into play intermittently. The standout feature is the dramatic performance from Eddie Redmayne who plays Stephen Hawking. Critics have already started comparisons with Daniel Day Lewis’s performance in ‘My Left Foot’, some even calling it as ‘My Left Brain’. All this augurs well for Redmayne who can count an Oscar nomination as a given. The film though is mostly told from the viewpoint of Jane, his wife and at times feels like a long explanation for her leaving Mr. Hawking. Quite obviously, she did not sign up to be his partner for life and would have been driven by emotional considerations when she thought of providing solace to a young man staring at imminent death. The film only scratches the surface when it comes to the science and is clearly targeted at the masses. To its credit, it must be said that the film is shot well and is successful in capturing the persona of the genius and the times he lived in.

Predestination (2014) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 82%, My Rating: 6.5/10]

Predestination (2014)


Adding to the never ending list of time travel movies, ‘Predestination’ is a new variant in this sub category. On his last mission, a special agent wants to save the world from a violent person . He goes back in time a few times to achieve his task. If only life was that simple or shall we say, only that complex. Frankly, it took me some time to figure out what the scenarists were trying to say and once you get the gist of it, it becomes more or less a film on bending the rules of biology to fight crime. How about the daughter, mother and father being the same person? Will an agent choose self preservation over saving other’s lives? If you like movies which have a lot of knots (some of them beautiful to look at) and want to attempt untying them, this is the movie for you.

The Babadook (2014) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, My Rating: 7.5/10]



An out and out horror movie which is one of the better ones I have seen in a long time. Unlike some of the pseudo horror movies in recent times, ‘Babadook’ does have some really edge of the seat stuff. A mother still recovering from the tragic death of her husband has a troublesome kid to deal with. Already in a depressed state, her life hurtles towards complete annihilation when a devious cartoon character enters her life. All hell breaks loose and then it is a fight to death as she and her son turn enemies and allies in the fight against evil. Often relying on the standard stunts of horror movies, it is the treatment and the sheer force of what is on screen that makes the movie stand apart. If you like horror, this one is for you.

Magic in the Moonlight (2014) [IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 53%, My Rating: 6/10]

Magic in the Moonlight


Coming from the master Woody Allen, this film relies on magic and conjuring to tell its story. Unlike many of his previous screenplays, the magic is sorely lacking on screen. A world renowned illusionist is summoned by a friend to help solve the mystery of a lady who can make fancy statements about a person’s past with an all knowing look. Devoid of much logic and giving the feel of a theatre piece, the film lacks the wit that once used to be a hallmark of Woody Allen. The film also has shades on his earlier work ‘The Curse of Jade Scorpion’ and is similar in the quality too. The only plus in this half hearted attempt is the scenic beauty of the French terrain.

Happy Ending (India, 2014) [IMDB: 5.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 29%, My Rating:1/10]



Saif Ali Khan continues his wonderful run of films with this one. Continuing on his contribution to cinema in the last two years in the form of ‘Humshakals’, ‘Race 2′, Bullett Raja’, ‘Agent Vinod’ et al, this one is a film for which he will have a lot of explaining to do when he meets his maker. An author who is a one book wonder has a writer’s block and hasn’t published a book in a very long time. He is roped in to write the screenplay (why? god knows) for a superstar’s new film which aims to capture the hearts of all sections of the audience. I fervently wished that this track involving Govinda would bloom and prosper because that was the only hope of redemption in a movie which otherwise has no idea what it is doing. It seems that the following day’s script for shooting was written on the night of the previous day. I genuinely wish that the script writer’s should have stuck to the advice the character of Govinda gives in the movie. It would have been less painful if they just took DVDs of Hollywood movies and mixed them up. That concoction would be palatable and not as deadly as this ‘original’ work.

Ungli (India,2014) [IMDB: 6.0, Rotten tomatoes: Not yet rated, My Rating: 3/10]



Coming from the director of the severely flawed ‘Kurbaan’ who also penned the screenplay for ‘Rang De Basanti’, ‘Ungli’ literally shows the finger (ungli) to the audience. After making a mess with Kurbaan, the director hopes that his tried and tested formula of vigilante justice will see him through. What comes out is a series of fantastical ideas and leave-your-brain-at-home events. The good cop-bad cop routine is also played out in the most stereotypical way possible. The movie is essentially a call to arms and tries to be a voice against the injustice that some of the cast members are subjected to. As for the acting, the only one doing any justice to his role is Randeep Hooda. Sanjay Dutt who also had the time and opportunity to study the behavior of cops in real life, also tries his two bits.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Helvetica (2007) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, My rating: 7.5]



The story of ‘Helvetica’ font and the tremendous influence it has had. Also, a study of the art and craft of graphic design. Interesting for the interested.

Eagerly Waiting for: ‘Spectre’ because 007.

Did you know: The alien language used in ‘District 9’ was created by rubbing pumpkins.