The Non-English Movies of The Week
The Worst Person in the World (Norway, 2021) [IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, My Rating: 7.5]
This movie is about a lady who perpetually feels that the grass is greener on the other side whenever she weighs up her romantic relationships. The subsequent silly decisions she makes which leave behind a debris of relationships, often with tragic consequences, form the crux of the movie. Needless to say, its stature is bolstered by the multiple Oscar nominations it has received. Amusing for the most part, the film cannot be accused of being boring. It is a bit bitter and a bit sweet or shall we say a bit bittersweet.
Drive My Car (Japan, 2021) [IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, My Rating: 8.0]
A Saab 900 model car is the omnipresent item in this movie. So is an all pervading sense of grief. An actor who is past his best days plunges into unspeakable sadness with the death of his wife. He hires a driver who has an intriguing past. Together they heal. This movie merits a viewing for its acting and screenplay which are stellar. Though there are dozens of good road movies, this one is not about the road or the car or the journey. It is an exquisite drama. Watch it if you like high quality movies.
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Bhutan, 2021) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, My Rating: 7.5]
‘Lunana’ is the surprise contender for this year’s foreign language category at the Oscars. And why not? It is a small Bhutanese movie shot in the “remotest school in the world” in a village called Lunana. Five minutes into the movie you can predict how it is going to progress. I guess three quarters of the Oscar nomination is for the scenery which is breathtaking. The other quarter is for the audacity to take it to the Oscars. The story is a simple one. A young teacher awaiting to migrate to Australia is sent on some sort of punishment to Lunana. The experience changes his life. There is nothing bitter about this one. It is all through a sweet movie.
Movies I Saw This Week
Licorice Pizza (2022) [IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, My Rating: 6.5]
I am yet to figure out how this one is nominated for the best picture at the Oscars. It clearly is a competent movie but the best picture nod is stretching things too far. I guess the nostalgia got to the Academy’s older voters. As for the plot, a fifteen year old boy falls in love with a 25 year old woman in the Nixon era in sunny California. He is a budding businessman and she is a little lost in life. They go their separate ways, meet up again and eventually she says ‘yes’ to him. The main actors are all making their debuts and they look assured in the hands of a much celebrated director.
Nightmare Alley (2021) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%, My Rating: 7.5]
There is a scene almost midway through the film which (if you are an avid moviegoer like me will spot) gives away the plot of ‘Nightmare Alley’. A remake of a black and white classic, the film gets a royal makeover in the hands of Guillermo del Toro. For once, Bradley Cooper can be proud of his work. The supporting cast is splendid as well. The story is about a man who trains himself to be a mentalist and tries to test the limits of his skill often with fatal consequences. The director goes out of his way to show that the protagonist is a flawed character, thereby laying the groundwork for whatever tragedy befalls him. Tragedy does come in copious amounts in a movie which is ultimately a morality tale.
House of Gucci (2021) [IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 62%, My Rating: 6.0]
Let me say it straight away. This is a bad movie with bad directing and terrible acting. The sorrow that I felt while watching the movie was from the realization that there was some great material available waiting to be shaped into a great movie. The script, direction and acting are unjust to what could have been a classic. Things are so bad that serious scenes look staged and funny. Jared Leto is insufferable. Adam Driver left the acting chops at home. Lady Gaga should stick to the singing. I am outraged that she got a best actress nomination at BAFTAs and is tipped to be the hot favourite to win. For what? This movie tells the rather eventful story of how the brand Gucci ended up with no one with that surname associated with it. There is infidelity, a gold-digger daughter-in-law, murder and intrigue at the core of the tale. This was an easy movie to make. How they botched it up is more interesting than the movie itself.
The Lost Daughter (2021) [IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, My Rating: 5.5]
I generally don’t like movies where the story has to be explained for the average Joe to understand what just happened. Apparently Maggie Gyllenhaal doesn’t share my sensibilities. In her debut feature, she asks the audience to please read the book from which the story is adapted. Coming to the story, it’s about a woman who does not like the idea of being a mother. Granted that motherhood is not for everyone. So what is the point? That the protagonist does not like being a mother. What else is there in the movie? Olivia Colman crying for no apparent reason as if she has been teargassed, Olivia Colman spending time on the beach, Olivia Colman trying her best to get another Oscar and so on and so forth. Yawn.
Don’t Look Up (2021) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 56%, My Rating: 4.0]
Completing the terrible list of movies nominated for this year’s Oscars is this slow car (or comet) crash. Adam McKay has made enjoyable movies such as Anchorman, Vice and the Big Short. This movie is a demonstration of how bad things get when satire goes wrong. The world is going to end unless immediate action is taken and a few scientists know that. The scientists in question being DiCaprio and Weinstein favourite Lawrence. Truth be told, these are the last people who should be on television trying to explain the earth ending phenomena to viewers. Watching them do their silly act on television instead of blurting out with alarm what they know is in itself a mockery of the movie. There is too much preaching and a holier than thou attitude. If it is not for the people associated with this movie and the star power they bring to the table, this movie should be considered for the Razzies and not the Oscars. Two thumbs down.
Being the Ricardos (2021) [IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 68%, My Rating: 6.0]
This is a real life story based on the life of Lucille Ball and the love of her life (that is, untill they divorced) Desi Arnaz who are linked to the communist party, when this equated with career death by association in Hollywood. The events during a tumultous week are covered in this breezy screenplay by Aaron sorkin. Nothing much happens though. Nicole Kidman is in the lead role playing an Oscar bait character while finding it impossible to move any muscles on her cheek. Is it Botox or is it the make up? You can devote half of your attention to this movie and do other chores with the other half if you plan to take up the challenge of watching it.
Encanto (2021) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, My Rating: 7.0]
‘Encanto’ has great animation. It has a sub-standard storyline, predictable scenes, unnecessary songs (a lot of them) and a clear target audience. To sum it up, it is in classic ‘Best Animation Oscar’ territory. A family in which the women have one specific small scale superpower (think of Superman and scale it down) are in an existential crisis as their powers wane. How they overcome this impending doom and gloom forms the rest of the movie. No prices for guessing whether it is a happy ending.
Documentary of the Week
Ascension (2021) [IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, My Rating: 8.0]
China is the factory of the world. This Oscar nominated documentary is a slightly unfocused look on how the Chinese live and work.
Eagerly waiting for: ‘Writing with Fire’, the Oscar nominated documentary from India
Did you know: Betty White who died recently (aged 99) was (at the age of 88 and a half) the oldest person to ever host Saturday Night Live .