Edition 64

The Non-English Movie of The Week

The Liberator (Venezuela, 2014) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 75%, My Rating: 6.5/10]

Liberator_movie_poster,_United_States

Trailer:

Simon Bolivar led Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia, Venezuela and Peru to independence by taking on the might of the Spanish empire. His life and times are captured in this Venezuelan movie set in early 19th century. Though not exactly a classic piece of cinema, the film sheds light on the events that shaped the liberator’s life. Even when oozing with adulation for the protagonist, the movie tries to draw a neat picture of what the great statesman was able to achieve. The trouble with the movie is that in its effort to make things palatable it does away with some of the complexities. Nevertheless, the movie is a good introduction to Latin America for those who are interested in knowing a little more about it.

Movies I Saw This Week

What We Do in the Shadows (2014) [IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes:96%, My Rating: 8/10]

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Trailer:

Practically reinventing the vampire genre, the movie is one of the best I have seen in 2015. Clearly targeted at a niche audience, it is a movie which brings humour to a story involving vampires. Made as a mockumentary, the film delves into the lives of a group of vampires who share the same house. Focusing on the difficulties that the vampires face in their daily lives and the petty politics that they have to deal with, the film is as unconventional as it gets. If ‘Let the Right One In’ reinvented horror in the vampire genre, this movie introduces genuine humour into the genre. Highly recommended.

Kill the Messenger (2014) [ IMDB: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 78%, My Rating: 7/10]

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Trailer:

Gary Webb was a journalist who wrote about the possibility of a nexus between CIA and drug cartels. (Spoilers ahead) Shortly afterwards, he was fired from his job and he couldn’t ever find work as a journalist. Finally he committed suicide. This movie traces the work of Gary Webb. Jeremy Renner does justice to the fallen journalist in a very complex role. Some of the mainstream newspapers have vehemently contested the stories published by Gary Webb branding them as inaccurate. More than solving anything, that only adds to the aura of a person who fought the establishment. This movie is not a comfortable one to watch but there is a reason why it has been made. Recommended.

Mr. Turner (2014) [IMDB:7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, My Rating: 8.5]

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Trailer:

Four time Cannes winner and seven time Oscar nominee Mike Leigh’s latest is a sweeping biography of the eccentric painter J.M.W. Turner. Timothy Spall won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his magnificent performance but was snubbed without even a nomination at the Oscars. All the awards hoopla aside, this is a gem of a movie with an accomplished performance from Timothy Spall. He went to the extent of studying how to paint for two years before he essayed this role. Another high point of the movie is the cinematography. The visuals are stunning and in some of the scenes the beauty on screen is something to behold. The movie is a tad slow for mainstream audiences.

The Wedding Ringer (2015) [IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 72%, My Rating: 6.5]

Wedding Ringer

Trailer:

A socially awkward man who has no friends goes on to hire an agent who can arrange best men for his wedding. If you can accept the lame premise of the movie and drop your standards, there are enough moments to give you a chuckle, if not a laugh. The movie is clearly a Hollywood assembly line production. So if you want to watch a movie when you nothing much to do, this is not a bad option.

Mortdecai (2015) [IMDB: 5.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 37%, My Rating: 3/10]

Mortdecai

Trailer:

Nothing succeeds like success. Sometimes the success is detrimental to your future. Johhny Depp was wildly successful as Captain Jack Sparrow and has been trying to unshackle that image ever since. So far, he has been unsuccessful and ventures like this one are not going to help his cause. With a title which is difficult to pronounce (it is pronounced as ‘mor-dekai’) and a story which is difficult to digest, this is a movie the audiences didn’t care to see. For those interested in the plot, imagine an art dealer, Russians, British, terrorists, a wife and fake accents. Mix them up.

Good Kill (2014) [IMDB: 6.3, Rotten Tomatoes:8%, My Rating:6.5/10]

Good Kill

Trailer:

Ethan Hawke stars as a drone pilot who finds himself at odds with the work assigned to him. It is a movie about moral dilemma and how to address the feeling of guilt. Nothing extraordinary happens on the screen and nothing terrible happens on the screen. An average movie that is happy in its mediocrity.

Taken 3 (2015) [IMDB:6.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 9%, My Rating: 2/10]

taken 3

Trailer:

The angry middle aged man Liam Neeson returns to another installment of a phenomenally successful  franchise. He is accused of a murder he has not committed. Obviously, he has to absolve himself and you know that he will. You can sleep and get up five minutes before the end. You won’t miss anything. In fact, sleeping would be a better way of using your time.

Documentary of the Week

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014) [IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, My Rating: 8/10]

Internet's Own Boy

Trailer:

Aaron Swartz committed suicide at the age of 26. He was the co-founder of Reddit and one of the developers of RSS. He stood up for freedom on the internet and he was pursued by the authorities. His story.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Water Diviner’ with Russel Crowe on the Battle of Gallipoli.

Did you know: ‘Titanic’ holds the record for consecutive weeks at the top of US Box office (15) but E.T. beats it by one in total weeks at Number One.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Edition 63

The Non-English Movie of The Week

Wild Tales (Argentina, 2014) [IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, My Rating: 8/10]

Wild Tales

Trailer:

This Argentinian film is currently in the limelight for all the wrong reasons because one segment of the film resembles the actions of the monster co-pilot in the Germanwings aircraft crash. Otherwise, it is one of the best films to have come out in 2014. A compilation of six segments, the films uniting thread is the rage and anguish of the characters which leads them to unforeseen consequences. Though all of the segments are not uniform in quality, the highs of most cover for the lows of the few. I particularly enjoyed the sequence of road rage and the one involving fighting against the establishment. Also, the now infamous sequence is one of the better ones in the movie. If you are looking for solid entertainment from a foreign language movie, it does not get much better than this.

Movies I Saw This Week

Rosewater (2014) [IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 75%, My Rating: 6.5]

rosewater

Trailer:

The much admired host of The Daily Show returns to movies, making his debut in directing. It is strange to see that Jon Stewart who dazzles in comedy, picked up a rather grim tale to tell. Taken from real life, the movie tells the story of a Canadian journalist who is detained in confinement in Iran where he is suspected of being a spy. The title of the movie comes from the fact that the only way the detainee could identify his captor is through the smell of rosewater. The ever reliable Gael Garcia Bernal plays his role pretty well but the infirmities in Jon Stewart’s direction are there to see. Solitude is difficult to convey in a movie. Unlike other situations, it takes time to build the right emotions. Unfortunately, when the movie has to convey this, the movie itself may appear stretched and painstakingly slow. This is the major frailty of this otherwise genuine movie.

Kidnapping Mr. Heineken (2015) [IMDB: 6.0, Rotten tomatoes:25%, My Rating: 5.5]

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Trailer:

Based on the investigative book into the kidnapping of the beer baron Alfred Heineken in Netherlands, this movie fires a lot of blank shots in between the few genuine ones. The kidnappers are played by a bunch of actors who have had their fair amount of success but that success was a long time ago. In a movie where the kidnapped Mr. Heineken (played by Anthony Hopkins) gets all the good scenes, the cause of the kidnappers is not helped by some shoddy screenplay and poor acting. I don’t know whether it was the director or the scriptwriter who was on Heineken while making the movie. As a viewer, you may require a Heineken or two to get over the pain of watching this one.

Top Five (2014) [IMDB: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, My Rating:7/10]

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Trailer:

Written and directed by Chris Rock and starring him in the lead role, Top Five is one of the better romantic comedies of last year. It tells the story of a comedian on the eve of his wedding to a reality TV star. The movie has a charm of its own and keeps the viewers engaged. It has funny and poignant moments in equal measure, none more than the scene when the protagonist meets his father. Chris Rock rises above the stand up comedy routine that brought him fame. It is a very mature piece of filmmaking even when it uses clichés in some scenes. Recommended.

Hunterrr (2015) [IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: Not yet rated, My Rating: 5/10]

Hunterrr

Trailer:

This sex comedy clearly knows its target audience but goes awry after 45 minutes or so. The protagonist is a sex addict who has derision for the idea of marriage. Told in flashback-flash forward format, the movie takes the viewer on the numerous amorous encounters of the lead character interspersed with his attempts at landing a suitable girl. It is when the latter part kicks in that the story goes berserk. The film looks like the tacky titillating films from another era. Though the views of the protagonist on skin colour and his contempt for black skin may be dismissed as the rant of a third rate character, I am still waiting for a Bollywood comedy which does not derive its humour from skin colour, LGBT community, objectification of women or plain toilet humour.

The Cobbler (2014) [IMDB: 5.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 7%, My Rating: 2/10]

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Trailer:

I have seen every single movie that Adam Sandler has acted in and I used to like his movies but in the last few years he has been scraping the bottom of the barrel. With The Cobbler he may have hit the nadir and I hope that he has. The only good thing about the movie is that Adam Sandler’s onscreen time is reduced by the fact that his forefathers pass on to him the ability to transform into the person once he steps into that person’s shoes. So you have some small time actors living up their dream. Adam Sandler just sleepwalks through the movie. The numerous sub plots don’t hold together. After watching this movie, I am reminded of the famous adage. Stars don’t die. They just fade away.

Spring (2014) [IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, My Rating: 6.5/10]

Spring

Trailer:

‘Spring’ is one of those romantic movies which will work with a section of the audience and I am part of that section. It tells the story a American who finds love in Italy. His lady love has some dark secrets that will not help in his quest for fulfilling the love. More of a meditative piece than a mushy romantic film, ‘Spring’ has very well written dialogues, scenic Italian landscapes and two very engaging performances. If you are looking for something different within the same framework, this movie might just suit you.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014) [IMDB: 6.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 62%, My Rating:5.5]

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Trailer:

Coming from Disney (that itself says a lot about the movie), this one is a simple family comedy which will instill family values and the such stuff kids need to be taught. On a horrible day when everything goes wrong, a family learns to stick together and stand up for each other. They also turn it into the most memorable day of their lives. Take your family along to watch this because it is a Disney film and Disney makes only predictable family stuff.

Documentary of the Week

The Ambassador (2011) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 76%, My Rating: 7.5/10]

Ambassador_Poster_Web

Trailer:

Danish filmmaker ‘purchases’ a diplomatic passport from Liberia and poses as its representative in the Central African Republic. What follows is epic. Must watch.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘True Story’ with James Franco and Jonah Hill.

Did you know: ‘The Turning Point’ (1977) and ‘The Color Purple'(1985) share the record for the films with most Oscar nominations (11) without a single win.