The Non-English Movie of The Week
Birds of Passage (Colombia, 2019) [IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, My Rating: 8.0]
An instant classic depicting the origin and evolution of the drug trade in tribal communities in Colombia, this movie focuses on the slow but sure impact of the drug trade and the new found wealth. People who get corrupted by money lose their marbles as they straddle the worlds of crime and custom. The tribal rituals to honour the forefathers become a show of strength. Honour and stubbornness become a potent mix, especially when illegal money is added to it. Great cinematography and a strong screenplay add to the quality on show. Highly recommended.
Movies I Saw This Week
Arctic (2019) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, My Rating: 7.0]
‘Arctic’ at its core is a simple and at times cliched survival tale of a man who must find a way out of a plane crash in the Arctic. What will keep you engrossed is the acting and the surprises the director is able to pull off every time the viewer tries to second guess the flow of events. The bleak landscape and the impotence of man facing the wrath of nature add to the bleary feel of the movie. Recommended if you like survival tales.
Private Life (2018) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, My Rating: 7.5]
I have not seen any recent movie which mimics life with such honesty without falling into the trap of predictability. ‘Private Life’ is a sincere, funny, poignant and resplendent piece of film making. A middle aged couple desperate for a child try all that is legally possible to attain their goals. The roller-coaster ride that they take is devastatingly close to real life with characters the viewer can identify with. You would not want to miss it.
Stan & Ollie (2018) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, My Rating: 7.5]
I remember Laurel and Hardy as belonging to a different time and space. I have read comic books with them as protagonists and after a certain age the comedy duo just disappeared from my mind. The final years of the duo are brought to the big screen in this warm and spirited comedy. Even the biggest stars fade and some of them cling on to the vestiges of fame. Laurel and Hardy take a last lap of honour and resolve their differences in this sweet little movie. The best comic line though belongs to Hardy’s wife when she speaks about Laurel’s wife. Recommended.
Fighting with My Family (2019) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, My Rating: 7.5]
This is one of the movies where the film is better than the real person it is based on. In fact, even as a standalone feature without any references to real life characters, this film is a thoroughly enjoyable watch with some truly heartwarming scenes and knockout dialogues. A British girl from a family for whom wrestling in not just a pastime harbours ambitions of hitting the jackpot with WWE. No spoilers here. She fulfills her dream. The ride to the dream is the fun here. Watch it.
Booksmart (2019) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, My Rating: 8.0]
When you think some of the genres are as good as dead, there comes a movie which rewrites the rules of the game. ‘Booksmart’ is the reinvention of the high school coming-of-age story which is as fresh as the dew drops in the morning. Two girls decide to do in a night what they missed in all the years of high-school. They accomplish the mission with palpable energy and infectious humour. With some rip-roaring scenes and outrageous comedy (I’ll never forget the ‘Malala rule’), ‘Booksmart’ is a fine way to spend your time.
Hotel Mumbai (2019) [IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%, My Rating: 7.0]
Do not watch this movie if you cannot stomach graphic violence. You have been warned. If you are the battle hardened type, this movie has rich rewards. A start to end thriller with gut wrenching scenes and edge of the seat moments, ‘Hotel Mumbai’ is a recreation of the terrorist attack on the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai renowned for its excellent customer care of the rich and famous. Some of the staff take this care to the extreme which can be also interpreted as being foolhardy when the more reasonable option is to just escape from the slaughter scene. There is also the typical American hero who acts as if nothing will happen to him as he probably thinks that the bullets will discriminate. Still, a story that must be told because what transpired needs to be known and etched in memory.
Us (2019) [IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, My Rating: 5.5]
For me, ‘Us’ was a monumental letdown. It is a film that does not scare and is very much predictable which makes it a weak candidate in the horror-thriller genre. The critics and fanboys can search for all the subtext and symbolism but at its core ‘Us’ is a poorly written movie about doppelgangers. There are no metaphors here. There are loopholes and more of them than you would want even in a romantic comedy. Some of the events have no explanation whatsoever. ‘Get Out’ was no masterpiece but was at least watchable. ‘Us’ is a train wreck that you get to make when your debut movie grosses 100 million at the box office.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) [IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 60%, My Rating: 6.0]
The title of the movie reminds me of certain people I know. Jokes aside, Ted Bundy was the outlier among serial killers. He was also a charmer. The movie tells us how those who surrounded him thought about him. He was able to pull the wool over the eyes of many including female admirers who believed in his lies till the very end. My issue with the movie is that it fails till the climax to show the evil incarnate that Bundy was. For a more nuanced take on a serial killer, try ‘My Friend Dahmer’.
Documentary of the Week
At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal (2019) [IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, My Rating: 8.5]
It is only in the US documentaries that people come out to speak to documentary crew on the abuse they received. This makes for powerful documentaries. ‘At the Heart of Gold’ is one such documentary. Must watch.
Eagerly waiting for: ‘Yesterday’ by Danny Boyle
Did you know: Jordan Peele was so insulted when Sony offered him the role of Poop in The Emoji Movie (2017) that he retired from acting to focus entirely on being a screenwriter and film director.