Argentina 1985 (2022) [IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, My Rating: 7.5]
Argentina was under a military dictatorship from the mid 1970s to 1980s. After the fall of the dictatorship, the newly elected democratic government decides to investigate the extra-judicial killings and disappearences under the dictatorship. This film tells in a rather matter of fact way the story of the trials through the eyes of the unwilling lead investigator who is tasked with the unenviable role of taken on the mightly and powerful. The film has a documentary feel to it and would have been a mediocre attempt but for the compelling and often harrowing testimonies of victims and their relatives which is what the movie is finally about. Not a classic film but definitely worth a watch.
The Fabelmans (2022) [IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, My Rating: 8.0]
Spielberg makes his most personal movie yet and bares the truth about his passion for filmaking and its origins in a melancholic film. He does not hesitate to have a hard look at the dysfunctional aspects of his family, with the central theme being his difficult relationship with his mother caused by her transgressions in marital life. The good thing about this movie is that it is evenly paced and feels like a very smooth ride. The music by veteran Spielberg collaborator John Williams is noteworthy. On the balance of it, this is one of the best films of the year with enough humour to override the everpresent sense of sadness.
The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) [IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, My Rating: 7.0]
Heavily tipped to win multiple Oscars, this film did not resonate with my taste. Shot in gorgeous locales and filled with commendable performances, this movie felt over the top and silly for most of its plot. A musician decides to stop talking to his simpleton friend. The friend is not able to understand the breakup of the relationship or accept it. Matters get out of hand. From then on the story is a slog with increasing hostilities akin to a shouting match. The more interesting thread is the life of the friend’s sister who sees the island for what it is and decides to get a life, outside of it. The central theme of the movie is a dull overrated senseless stretch of a theme.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) [IMDB: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, My Rating: 6.5]
This sequel to the original smash hit tries to be too clever while resorting to some cliche themes like identical twins. It is all smoke and mirrors with susbstance light enough for the festive times. Don’t get me wrong. This is not a miserable movie. In fact, it could be a good afternoon watch on a Christmas day. The problem is that by the next Christmas you may not remember much of it and that won’t bother you. The story is that of a contemporary billionaire who like the rest of his ilk believes that having made money makes him uniquely qualified to lord over all things under the sun and in the case of some other particularly insufferable idiots, even going to extend to raid other planets. This idiot invites his friends to a private island to solve what he thinks will be his murder. The thing about this movie is that more than the mystery solving, the element that hits the bulls eye is the vapidity of the social media driven landscape littered with dumb peddlers of nonsense and their dumber prey.
Tar (2022) [IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, My Rating: 7.5.]
‘Tar’ is almost a classic and may eventually become one with some ageing. It tells the story of a conductor at the Berliner Philharmonic Orchestra whose unquestionable talent is no competition for her personality flaws. With an arresting performance from Cate Blanchett this film is almost perfect except for one jarring scene towards the end. A special mention must be made to the high quality and educational screenplay which is instructive to a novice about music. Ultimately this is a film about power and hubris, more specifically that these two things make strange bedfellows. Watch it for Cate Blanchett.
Triangle of Sadness (2022) [IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 71%, My Rating: 6.5]
A festival circuit favourite, this film tells the story of a group of people on a yacht and how their worlds collide when the vessel sinks and they find themselves in an uninhabited island where the value of basic survival skills outweigh the bank balance of some of the the survivors. Mildly amusing and plotted in a predictable way, this film does not do anything out of the ordinary. In fact, I would call it a missed opportunity to bring more gravitas for a plot begging for imagination in its screenplay. Instead the movie gives a feeling of recycling some old ideas. Even the digs at the rich do not add to the entertainment or plot.
She Said (2022) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, My Rating: 7.0]
The women reporters at the hallowed institution of the New York Times work tirelessly to expose the sexual predator Harvey Weinstein in a low key thriller. The crowning moment is when they decide to press the publish button on their investigative piece. The movie feels like it has been intentionally made in a pace which reflects real world reporting which involves hard work, patience and dedication. The suggestion could be that good journalism is not something with an end in sight but a ceaseless process. A tip of the hat to people who do the tough work without fear or favour.
The Woman King (2022) [IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, My Rating: 6.5]
Frankly, (and I hate to admit it) ‘RRR’ was more fun than ‘The Woman King’. ‘The Woman King’ tells the historical story of a clan of ferocious women who practically ruled what is now Benin in West Africa. They were more ruthless and violent than what the movie shows them to be. The plot is simple. These women are warriors and they fight. If you want more spectacular stuff like fighters throwing wild animals at their enemies, watch RRR. Or still, if you want some bromance with dance steps watch RRR.
The Wonder (2022) [IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, My Rating: 7.0]
A nurse is called to a nondescript village in Ireland where science is not much in fashion and simple folks believe that a child has survived for months eating nothing. Her job is to observe and report on the phenomena. Also present are chancers who would like to push their theories to buttress the existence of this so called miracle. I am reminded of how to this day Indians believe in similar trash reported across the country of illogical and impossible acts. For a lot many believers with the switch for questioning and rationale turned off, they truly believe in the ad slogan of Nike. Our nurse played by Florence Pugh is not one of those dimwits. She has the courage of conviction to unravel the mystery behind the wonder that has captivated a community. That is the story and that is all there is to to this movie which is a kick in the teeth to religious nuts.
Corsage (2022) [IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, My Rating: 7.0]
Decision to Leave (2022) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, My Rating: 6.0]
Critics have been running out of words of acclaim for this Korean neo-noir movie. I was only running out of the door to escape this tedious trainwreck with poor production values and a contrived plot. During the viewing itself I was wondering why this movie got the attention and praise it has garnered. Maybe I may have missed something. The story is about a detective investigating the death of man on a rock and his interactions with the young wife of the deceased. Think of ‘Basic Instinct’ without the thrills or the scenes. Or ‘Titanic’ without the iceberg. Or ‘Speed’ with a functioning break. I decided to leave ‘Decision to Leave’. I am still thinking how this movie is so highly rated and it is eating away my soul. Just kidding. Such a waste of time.
Documentary of the Week
God Forbid (2022) [IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%, My Rating: 6.0]
This is an X rated (not suitable for family audiences) documentary starring evangelical Christians and a pool boy. Things are so bad that the pool boy tries to look like the more moral person and almost succeeds. The Falwells who are the evengelicals here show what the whole movement is about: Making money from the gullible and blowing it as they please. Another collection piece for the ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’ assortment.
Eagerly waiting for: ‘The Son’ starring Hugh Jackman among others.
TV Series Recomendation: ‘Black Bird’ with terrific acting and storyline tells the real story of an undercover convict trying to get a confession from a serial killer in a maximum security prison. The villain is the real deal.
Did you know: ‘RRR’ is the first Telugu movie to be nominated for the Golden Globes.