Edition 90

The Non-English Movie of The Week

The Insult (Lebanon, 2017) [IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 99%, My Rating: 7.0]

Trailer

Lebanon is a hotbed of sectarian politics. The nation has strong contingents of Christian and Muslim denominations. Palestinian refugees constitute 10% of the population of Lebanon. It is in this powder keg that ‘The Insult’ is set. A Christian citizen of Lebanon sues a Muslim Palestinian refugee, and the events that ensue form the crux of the story. Up in the air is not just a legal question but decades old raw wounds which guide the motives of all the actors in the flick. Unfortunately, with revelations about the accused and the accuser, the story ties itself in knots. The director chooses the safest exit route by conceding partly to all involved. This only leads to an ending which is safe and is a big letdown for a movie which oozes with tension and drama for the large majority of its running time.

Movies I Saw This Week

22 July (2018) [IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%, My Rating: 6.5]

Trailer

Paul Greengrass is a master at telling tales of tension and thrill. His success was undeniable in the Bourne Series and ‘United 93’ and to a lesser extent in ‘Captain Phillips’. In ’22 July’, he takes the viewer to the gory tragedy that unfolds at Utoya island, Norway where a right wing white supremacist (there is no need to name and glorify him) guns down 69 campers after already taking the life of 8 others with an explosion in Oslo. The tragedy and its aftermath are captured in this movie which is based on the more harrowing book ‘One of Us’. The movie is absolutely engaging in the first half but soon loses steam as it progresses. The focus is diluted by two strands that develop in the story. In many instances the killer is made to look reasonable. There is no outright condemnation of the monster and the lawyer who takes up his case begins with the intention of helping his client get away scot-free. The tragedy raises questions on the need for death penalty. If Hitler did not commit suicide and was caught by Norwegians, what would they have done with him?

A Prayer Before Dawn (2018) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, My Rating: 7.5]

Trailer

Based on a true story and a best selling book, this movie takes you inside the harsh prison life in Thailand and the contact sport of Muay Thai. Englishman Billy Moore finds a little bit of love, life and redemption as he navigates through the violence, abuse and underworld, serving his three year sentence. Notable for the gritty and realistic performances, ‘A prayer Before Dawn’ is a richly rewarding experience for those who have the patience to sit through the ordeal of real action sequences and shocking scenes of abuse.

Andhadhun (2018) [IMDB: 9.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, My Rating: 8.5]

Trailer

Hands down the best Hindi movie of the year, ‘Andhadhun’ reaffirms my belief that Sriram Raghavan is the best director in India when it comes to making a taut thriller. For those who are not convinced yet, watch ‘Johnny Gaddaar’ or the more complex ‘Badlapur’. Andhadhun is the story of a pianist who pretends to be blind and then ‘witnesses’ a murder. The ball is set rolling from that moment and the myriad characters who appear (and some disappear) on the screen lead to a finale which is more clever than tense. The best thing about the movie is that it keeps the viewer engaged from start to end with well formed characters and great performances. There is even scope for some fun in the form of a Chaplinesque sequence with the piano playing in the background as a corpse is packed for disposal. Must see.

Mandy (2018) [IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, My Rating: 7.5]

Trailer

The much maligned Nicolas Cage who was quietly riding into cinematic oblivion with duds piling up in the last few years, finds a comeback in a movie where you would least expect any redemption. In a movie reminiscent of grindhouse flicks, director Panos Cosmatos invites the viewer to a surreal experience of blood letting and horrific violence. Cage plays a man who is out to avenge his wife’s murder by a religious cult. From the word go, the movie with its distinct colour scheme and weird background score embarks on a cycle of gratuitous violence. Watching this movie requires oodles of patience and zero sensitivity to dismemberment of body parts or gushing of blood. Still, recommended.

Leave No Trace (2018) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, My Rating: 8.0]

Trailer

Seldom does a movie so simple arrest attention like ‘Leave No Trace’. This is a movie which must be seen and is an absolute joy to watch. A father and daughter live in the woods and they prefer life that way. When they are discovered, their world starts unfolding. Packed with empathy and wisdom, ‘Leave No Trace’ is a character study with a matching screenplay. I wish there were more movies like this one.

Paterno (2018) [IMDB: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 72%, My Rating: 7.0]

Trailer

Paterno was the head coach of the football team which was at the centre of the abuse scandal that engulfed Penn State University. The movie is a competent one made better by Al Pacino who is in fine form playing the title character. The real star in the real world though is the young local reporter who revealed the truth to the world and went on to win a Pulitzer for the same. Though sympathetic to Paterno for long stretches, the movie ends with a scene which shows the culpability and reveals the culture of silence which kept the scandal under wraps for a long time. ‘Paterno’ is not a great movie but one worth watching.

The Wife (2018) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%, My Rating: 6.5]

Trailer

Glenn Close is heavily tipped to receive an Oscar nomination for her role as an enigmatic wife in this family drama that somehow reaches the finish line while struggling to hold the attention of the viewer. The big revelation in the movie does not take the viewer by surprise as enough hints are given during the course of the movie. The actors are in fine form with Christian Slater playing an annoying character which just requires him to be himself. For other ‘gems’ of Christian Slater watch movies like Basil (1998). As for ‘The Wife’, it is for the viewer to decide if the good lead performances make up for a biting lack of authenticity in a drama about a winner of the Nobel prize in literature.

Kayamkulam Kochunni (2018) [IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: Not Rated, My Rating: 7.0]

Trailer

The legendary thief who even has a temple to his name for his good samaritan acts is reborn on the big screen. An incredibly lucky Nivin Pauly seems to get all the right roles even when it is glaringly evident that his histrionic skills are not up to the mark. The movie itself keeps the viewer engaged even when the screenplay fails to offer anything fresh. Some of the songs in the movie are absolutely unnecessary and plain regressive. Nevertheless, the movie deserves appreciation for trying.

Documentary of the Week

Three Identical Strangers (2018) [IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, My Rating: 8.5]

Trailer

An incredible true story about three identical brothers separated at birth and reunited as teenagers. One of the best documentaries I have seen.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Shoplifters’, winner of the Palme d’Or 2018 releasing in the US on 23 November.

Did you know: The movie ‘Arsenal (2017)‘ is still rated 4.0 on IMDB. As of today, Arsenal football club are in their ‘traditional’ 4th spot in the Premier League.

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Edition 67

The Non-English Movie of The Week

Corn Island (Georgia, 2014) [IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: Not yet rated, My Rating: 7.5]

Corn Island (2014)

Trailer:

For the first time we have a Georgian film in this blog and from what I have seen, I would love to have a look at many more movies from Georgia. ‘Corn Island’ tells the story of a man and his granddaughter who have to farm for survival. The entry of new characters- some unexpected and some uninvited- makes the story unpredictable. The high point of the movie is the cinematography and the breathtaking scenery that aids the ambiance. Some of the shots and terrain reminded me of ‘Mud (2012)’. Though the movie has a rather tedious pace, the images on screen do not make an eyesore. Overall, this one is recommended to all those who like to try something new.

Movies I Saw This Week

The Gift (2015) [ IMDB:7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, My Rating: 6/10]

Gift-Movie-Poster-Robyn

Trailer: 

Full disclosure: I slept for 15 minutes during the movie. The good part ( or from a neutral perspective, the bad part) is that I did not miss anything. This movie is a good one time watch but leaves you with the feeling that a good one hour drama was stretched to be made into a watchable movie. For a seasoned viewer, it is very easy to predict the climax of the movie which has a good performance from Rebecca Hall. Interestingly, the director-writer of the movie has also taken the role of being the provider of ‘gifts’ in the movie. The fact that he has a one note performance could be attributed to this. ‘The Gift’ is the kind of movie that you will have difficulty remembering after a few years. If at all the movie retains a place in your memory, it would be due to the dialogues in the climax scene.

Chappie (2015) [IMDB:7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 31%, My Rating: 4.5]

Chappie Poster

Trailer:

This Dev Patel movie is a reminder that voting in IMDB does not reflect the true merit of a movie when it comes to sci-fi flicks. The robot with emotions is a concept that Hollywood has tried multiple times; some successful like ‘Wall-E’ and some disasters like ‘Bicentennial Man’. ‘Chappie’ tries too hard to sound authentic but is let down more by human actors who fail to match even the robot when it comes to emotions. Avoid this one and hope that the next robot movie will have better things to do and better co actors.

Madame Bovary (2015) [IMDB: 6.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 43%, My Rating: 5.5]

madame_bovary

Trailer:

This movie is the latest interpretation of the classic novel and the main reason why I was interested in watching this one was the decent quality of the trailer. Some expensive movies which have been beautifully shot are a joy to watch (try ‘To The Wonder’) even when they have rather mediocre story lines. As it turns out, the producers seem to have handpicked the scenes that were put in the trailer because the movie does not deliver on any front. The performances are uninspired and the screenplay is insipid. In the final analysis it is a sheer waste of time and money: my time and the producer’s money.

Danny Collins (2015) [IMDB:7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 80%, My Rating: 7.5]

danny_collins

Trailer:

There are some people who can continue to light up the screen after decades of solid performances. Al Pacino is one such thespian. Here he plays a down and out singer who lives on past glories. A letter from his past changes his life forever. Based on a true story, ‘Danny Collins’ tells a very enjoyable ( who cares if it is predictable) tale of a man on self discovery at a ripe old age. That also makes this movie Al Pacino’s best performance in over a decade. Definitely worth a watch.

 

Phantom (Hindi, 2015) [IMDB: 5.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 41%, My Rating: 5.5/10]

phantom

Trailer: 

As the movie’s tagline says, after watching ‘Phantom’ I wished that it was true. In fact, the confidence with which the movie was unfolding made me feel that it was indeed based on true events. I even googled to find out whether the terrorist David Headley was dead. When truth struck and I was back to my senses, I realized that ‘Phantom’ was a fanciful work of imagination which does not stop at stretching the limits of imagination but also bends and breaks it. At the same time it is a decent thriller to watch, if you can forget the fact that you read newspapers. The things going for the movie are the racy pace and the limited screen time for Katrina Kaif. The things against the movie are your functioning brain and Saif Ali Khan. After all this, still a decent one time watch,

While We’re Young (2014) [IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 845, My Rating: 7.0]

WhileWereYoung-poster1

Trailer:

Ben Stiller has been trying too hard to get out of the comedian tag for the last few years. Perhaps he does not realize that his acting talents are very limited and he looks best in movies like ‘Tropic Thunder’ and ‘Zoolander’. Here, Stiller plays husband to Naomi Watts (who is in her comfort zone in the role). Their lives and thoughts are deeply affected by the entry of a young couple into their lives. The phenomenon of mid-life crisis gets another look in this movie. The movie is ultimately rewarding for those who have the patience to sit through some of the plainly boring sequences.

Kunjiramayanam (Malayalam, 2015) [IMDB: 6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: Not yet rated, My Rating:6.0]

Kunjiramayanam Posters-Stills-Images-Malayalam Movie-Vineeth Sreenivasan-Dhyan Sreenivasan-Basil Joseph-Onlookers Media

Trailer: 

This debut feature film by Basil Joseph tells the story of events that happen in a small village in Kerala. An entertaining study of the lives and culture in a picturesque village in Central Kerala is told in an interesting way. The grip of the director on the subject is evident and it is truly a feast for the eyes to have rich visuals in the background. It is not for nothing that they call Kerala ‘God’s Own Country’.

Documentary of the Week

South of the Border (2009) [IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 69%, My Rating: 7.0]

South of the Border (2009)

Trailer:

A one sided take on the governments in South America. An introduction to the politics in Latin America.

Eagerly waiting for:Crimson Peak‘ directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Jessica Chastain.

Did you know: ‘Skyfall’ is the first Bond flick directed by an Oscar winning director.

 

 

50 Weeks: 50 Movies

When I started this blog 50 weeks ago, I had never imagined that it would have readers from 73 countries and the average weekly readership would cross 70. For 49 weeks I have written ( at times, by burning midnight oil) about my experiences at the movies. The 50th week is a tribute to all the readers who found something worth reading here. For this edition I asked a reader who has read all previous 49 editions, for a list of that person’s 50 favourite movies. This edition is about those 50 movies.

1. Bucket List (2007) [ IMDB:7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 78%]

The Bucket List

The Plot: Two terminally ill men from dissimilar backgrounds go on a journey together and try to do everything they always wanted to do.

Trailer:

The Highlight: Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson team up. If for nothing else, the film is worth a watch for the energy they bring to the screen. It is for the same reason and the high expectations from such a film that the viewer may find a little underwhelmed at the end. Still, a very good watch.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “Everyone’s afraid to die alone.”

2. Insomnia (2002) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

insomnia

The Plot: Two top cops from Los Angeles are sent to a small town to investigate the death of a teen. The sting in the tale is that the sun does not set in the town.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Christopher Nolan’s early work saw a bunch of accomplished actors on screen but the real winner was the cinematography which set the right mood for the film. Even the small town feels like a character on screen. Its beauty and serenity are breathtaking but also add the suspense in the movie.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “I can’t judge. There are two kinds of people in Alaska: those who were born here and those who come here to escape something. I wasn’t born here.”

3. Sliding Doors (1998) [ IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 78%]

Sliding Doors

The Plot: How one event happening/not happening changes the course of a women’s life. The vicissitudes and glorious uncertainties of life.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Gwyneth ‘Conscious Uncoupling’ Paltrow who puts in her best performance after her Oscar winning performance in ‘Shakespeare in Love’.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “For God’s sake, Gerry. I asked you a simple question; there is no need for you to become Woody Allen.”

4. Shutter Island (2010) [ IMDB:8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 76%]

Shutter Island

The Plot: Set in 1954, the film purportedly shows the investigation to find out the location of a convict who has escaped from a mental asylum.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio team up to bring their most provocative story which requires multiple viewings to have a full debate on; a conclusive interpretation being a difficult goal. In the end the story does not matter. All that matters is how much of it is real.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “No assumption, no, not at all. You misunderstand me. I said, you are ‘men of violence’. I’m not accusing you of being violent men. That’s quite different.”

5. Scarface (1983) [ IMDB:8.3, Rotten Tomatoes:94%]

Scarface1

The Plot: An immigrant from Cuba builds his fortune in the world of crime and drugs in 1980s Miami.

Trailer:

The Highlight: Al Pacino shows once more time why he is one of the greatest actors ever.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.”

6. Groundhog Day (1993) [ IMDB:8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

Groundhog Day

The Plot: Bill Murray plays a weatherman who finds that he is living the same day again and again. The good thing is that he has Andie MacDowell for company.

Trailer:

The Highlight: It is a toast to the ordinary life which could be extraordinary if one lived it as if there is no tomorrow.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “I don’t deserve someone like you. But If I ever could, I swear I would love you for the rest of my life.”

7. The Help (2011) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

The Help

The Plot: At the height of the Civil rights movement, a young white woman decides to write a book on the light of African American maids and their perception of their masters.

Trailer:

The Highlight: Viola Davis in an illuminating performance.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Courage sometimes skips a generation. Thank you for bringing it back to our family.”

8. The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

The Greatest Game Ever Played

The Plot: A rank outsider wins against all odds at the 1913 US Open in golf, beating his idol on the way.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Nothing exceptional but once in a while the right cliches at the right time make the right kind of movie.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Let me tell you something. I came here to win a trophy. And on the face of it Ted Ray or I should carry it off. Not for you, not for England, but for sheer bloody pride at being the best, that’s why we do this. And if Mr. Ouimet wins tomorrow, it’s because he’s the best, because of who he is. Not who his father was, not how much money he’s got, because of who he bloody is! And I’ll thank you to remember that.

9. Snatch. (2000) [ IMDB:8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

Snatch

The Plot: A group of interesting characters join the hunt for a missing diamond.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Unbridled action, peppy dialogues and lots of style.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Yes, London. You know: fish, chips, cup ‘o tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary fucking Poppins… LONDON.”

10. Roman Holiday (1953) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

Roman Holiday1

The Plot: An American newsman takes a princess on a trip of Rome on her day away from boring life.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Audrey Hepburn. William Wyler. Gregory Peck.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “I have to leave you now. I’m going to that corner there and turn. You must stay in the car and drive away. Promise not to watch me go beyond the corner. Just drive away and leave me as I leave you.”

11. American Gangster (2007) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]

American Gangster

The Plot: A detective trying his best to nab a drug lord.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: A simplistic story and an average performance from Russel Crowe are eclipsed by Denzel Washington in one of his best performances.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Success. It’s got enemies. You can be successful and have enemies or you can be unsuccessful and have friends.”

12. Kiss the Girls (1997) [ IMDB: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 64%]

Kiss the Girls

The Plot: A girl who survives a serial killer’s murder attempt holds the key to nabbing him.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Though there are enough loopholes in the movie, it is the sheer presence of Morgan Freeman that makes the film worth a watch.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “Multiply your anger by about a hundred, Kate, that’s how much he thinks he loves you.”

13. Match Point (2005) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 81%]

Match Point

The Plot: A married man falls for the girlfriend of his brother-in-law.

Trailer:

The Highlight: What you don’t expect from Woody Allen and what you absolutely expect from Scarlett Johansson.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “The man who said “I’d rather be lucky than good” saw deeply into life. People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It’s scary to think so much is out of one’s control.”

14. Blood Diamond (2006) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

Blood Diamond

The Plot: A few people in the illegal diamond trade in Africa and their stories.

Trailer:

The Highlight: The acting of DiCaprio and the nose of Jennifer Connelly.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Sometimes I wonder… will God ever forgive us for what we’ve done to each other? Then I look around and I realize… God left this place a long time ago.”

15. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) [ IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

Four Weddings and a Funeral

The Plot: A man discovers his true love over four weddings, one funeral and many other disasters.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Hopelessly romantic scenes and outrageously funny scenes. Also, Andie MacDowell.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “The truth is… well, the truth is, I have met the right person, and he’s not in love with me, and until I stop loving him, no one else really has a chance.”

16. Enemy at the Gates (2001) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

Enemy at the Gates

The Plot: Sometimes a man can inspire a whole nation. Russia found inspiration against the Germans in the form of sniper Vasily Zaytsev.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: True story. Truly inspiring.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “He isn’t dead, and do you know why? Because I haven’t killed him yet.”

17. Shakespeare in Love (1998) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

Shakespeare in Love

The Plot: Young Shakespeare who is in the doldrums, meets his love and this changes his life forever.

Trailer:

The Highlight: The germ of the idea and the way they brought that imagination to screen.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “All the men at court are without poetry. If they see me, they see my father’s fortune, I – will have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love. Love above all.”

18. Inglourious Basterds (2009) [ IMDB:8.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

Inglourious Basterds

The Plot: How about assassinating Nazi leaders during WWII by burning down the theatre when they are watching a movie?

Trailer:

The Highlight: It is fun to see Quentin Tarantino’s imagination run wild.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Because you’ve just given yourself away, Captain. You’re no more German than that scotch.”

19. Yentl (1983) [IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 75%]

Yentl

The Plot: A girl poses as a man so that she can be trained in religious studies.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Barbra Streisand, who is the only person to have won the Oscar, the  Grammy, the Emmy, the Tony, the Peabody and an AFI award.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line:”Why is it people who want the truth never believe it when they hear it?”

20. The Interpreter (2005) [ IMDB; 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 5.5]

The Interpreter

The Plot: Intrigue in the UN, with an interpreter being the unfortunate beneficiary of a discussion on an assassination plot.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: For a Sydney Pollack film starring Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman, this one disappoints but there are enough scenes which have edge of the seat stuff.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “Vengeance is a lazy form of grief.”

21. Gone with the Wind (1939) [ IMDB; 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

gone with the

The Plot: The US Civil War is the background for the doomed love story of a manipulative woman and a charming man.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: A great novel made into a great film with great music, great acting, great cinematography and great dialogues.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole, but is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail.”

22. Marvin’s Room (1996) [ IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 80%]

Marvin's Room

The Plot: The only hope for a leukemia patient is to get a bone marrow transplant from her sister, a sister who is estranged from her for two decades.

Trailer:

The Highlight: Some stirring performances from Streep, Keaton and DiCaprio.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Most of the time I just keep to myself. I think like what it would be like to be… someone else.”

23. The Last King of Scotland (2006) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

The Last King of Scotland

The Plot: How it was to be a confidante and physician of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

Trailer:

The Highlight: Acting lesson from Forest Whitaker.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “You deserve to die. But dead, you can do nothing. Alive, you might just be able to redeem yourself.”

24. The Tourist (2010) [ IMDB: 6.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 42%]

The Tourist

The Plot: Angelina Jolie walks into the life of Johnny Deep while he is on a vacation in Italy. Wish that was true.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: I can’ think beyond Angelina Jolie here.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “It’s the um… the Roman god, Janus. My mother gave it to me when I was little. She wanted to teach me that people have two sides. A good side, a bad side, a past, a future. And that we must embrace both in someone we love.”

25. Behind Enemy Lines (2001) [IMDB: 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 63%]

Behind Enemy Lines

The Plot: A pilot finds himself deep within enemy territory as his plane is brought down. He must escape from the area and time is a premium.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Spectacularly shot sequences.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “Everybody thinks they’re gonna get a chance to punch some Nazi in the face in Normandy, but those days are over. They’re long gone.”

26. Death Becomes Her (IMDB: 6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 61%]

Death Becomes Her

The Plot: A woman wants to be immortal because that is perhaps the only way she can upstage her competitor.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Meryl Streep and the unconventional idea that is there at the core of the movie.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line:”Wrinkled, wrinkled little star… hope they never see the scars.”

27. Road to Perdition (2002) [ IMDB:7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

road to perdition

The Plot: His son is the only hope for a hit-man who has fallen out of favour.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Some great dialogues and outstanding acting are not a patch on the sensational cinematography.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “I’m glad it’s you.”

28. My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) [IMDB:6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 74%]

My Best Friend's Wedding

The Plot: A woman realizes her love for her friend, a few days before his wedding.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Julia Roberts. Who else?

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line:”It’s amazing the clarity that comes with psychotic jealousy.”

29. Catch Me If You Can (2002) [ IMDB:8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

Catch Me If You Can

The Plot: A lonely master con artist and impersonator has a cat and mouse game with the FBI.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: The antics of the lead character so charmingly played by DiCaprio.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Dear Dad, you always told me that an honest man has nothing to fear, so I’m trying my best not to be afraid.”

30. Jurassic Park (1993) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

Jurassic Park

The Plot: An eccentric millionaire tries to recreate a park with dinosaurs using advancements in science.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Obviously, dinosaurs in starring roles.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line:”T-Rex doesn’t want to be fed. He wants to hunt. Can’t just suppress 65 million years of gut instinct.”

31. The Firm (1993) [ IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 75%]

the firm

The Plot: A lawyer in a young marriage joins a famous law firm. He then finds out that things are not what they seem to be.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Tom Cruise can also act.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line:”I get paid to be suspicious when I’ve got nothing to be suspicious about.”

32. Goodfellas (1990) [IMDB: 8.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

Goodfellas

The Plot: The rags to riches (through violence) story of a group of friends.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: The perfect blend of style and substance.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster. To me that was better than being president of the United States. To be a gangster was to own the world.”

33. Jackie Brown (1997) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

Jackie Brown

The Plot: An air hostess finds herself embroiled in the conflict between arms dealers and cops.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Guns and lots of it.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “You can’t trust Melanie but you can trust Melanie to be Melanie.”

34. The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) [IMDb:6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 73%]

The Mirror Has Two Faces

The Plot: Some people get married just to have sex. He gets married so as not to have it.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Jeff Bridges in a role you don’t expect him to be in.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “I don’t date these girls because they’re well-read. I gave one of them a copy of “Farewell to Arms”. She thought it was a diet book.”

35. The Aviator (2004) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]

The Aviator

The Plot: The eccentricities of the Hollywood insider Howard Hughes.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: DiCaprio. As I write this list I see a lot of great movies in which he has had pivotal roles. I hope he gets due recognition some day.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “You don’t care about money because you’ve always had it.”

36. Milk (2008) [ IMDB:7.7, Rotten Tomatoes; 94%]

Milk

The Plot: The story of gay rights activist Harvey Milk.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Sean Penn sealed his Oscar win with the title role.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “All men are created equal. No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words.”

37. The Untouchables (1987) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

The Untouchables

The Plot: Notorious gangster Al Capone has to be brought to justice but the problem is that he is well capable of buying out justice.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: When Kevin Costner upstages Robert DeNiro.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “You just fulfilled the first rule of law enforcement: make sure when your shift is over you go home alive. Here endeth the lesson.”

38. V for Vendetta (2005) [ IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

V for Vendetta

The Plot: The masked fighter and his friend take on a system of oppressive government.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Natalie Portman and her torture scenes.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: ” I’m not questioning your powers of observation; I’m merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.”

39. Inception (2010) [IMDB: 8.8, Rotten tomatoes: 91%]

Inception

The Plot: Set in the future, a man will get back what he lost if he performs the impossible.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: The Direction of Christopher Nolan. Shame on the academy for not nominating him at the Oscars.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “Because, in my dreams we are together.”

40. A Few Good Men (1992) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

A Few Good Men

The Plot: A court martial opens a can of worms.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Jack Nicholson owns the screen.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: ” You can’t handle the truth.”

41. Ladder 49 (2004) [ IMDB; 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 82%]

Ladder 49

The Plot: A firefighter’s life told in flashback as he awaits to be rescued before he dies.

Trailer:

The Highlight: Reel life heroes find time to act in a movie that tell the tales of real life heroes.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “People are always asking me how is it that firefighters run into a burning building when everyone else is running out. Courage is the answer.”

42. The King’s Speech (2010) [IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

The King's Speech

The Plot: A stuttering king has to inspire his nation in times of war. Some men are thrust into greatness and they learn to speak along the way.

Trailer:

The Highlight: Colin Firth who is otherwise very good with his dialogues, had to unlearn.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “If I’m King, where’s my power? Can I form a government? Can I levy a tax, declare a war? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority. Why? Because the nation believes that when I speak, I speak for them. But I can’t speak.”

43. The Holiday (2006) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 80%]

The Holiday

The Plot: An American and a Britisher swap homes during a vacation and find their respective partners.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: One of Nancy Meyers’ more accomplished works.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “You’re supposed to be the leading lady in your own life, for God’s sake!”

44. The Color Purple (1985) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

The Color Purple

The Plot: Adaptation of the classic novel on the life of an African American woman.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Shoddy direction by Steven Spielberg.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “The jail you planned for me is the one you’re gonna rot in.”

45. The Day of the Jackal (1973) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

The Day of the Jackal

The Plot: A conspiracy to kill the President of France.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: The coldness of the assassin.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “You have to employ a professional. Your organization is so riddled with informers that nothing you decide is a secret for long. No, the job would have to be done by an outsider. The only question would be by whom, and for how much.”

46. The Usual Suspects (1995) [ IMDB:8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

The Usual Suspects

The Plot: It must be easy to solve a crime when the suspects are limited and known. Or is it?

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Kevin Spacey can tell stories.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

47. My Cousin Vinny (1992) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%]

My Cousin Vinny

The Plot: Greenhorn Vinny has to defend his cousin in a murder trial in small town Alabama.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei make you laugh so much that your stomach hurts.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “Well I hate to bring it up because I know you’ve got enough pressure on you already. But, we agreed to get married as soon as you won your first case. Meanwhile, TEN YEARS LATER, my niece, the daughter of my sister is getting married. My biological clock is TICKING LIKE THIS and the way this case is going, I ain’t never getting married.”

48. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) [ IMDB: 8.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

The Silence of the Lambs

The Plot: A jailed serial killer is the only one who can help a young investigator reach another serial killer on the rampage.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Anthony Hopkins won the Best Actor Oscar for which his onscreen time was the least among all previous winners in the category.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”

49. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) [ IMDB: 9.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

The Shawshank Redemption

The Plot: How you can be good and still win.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: ‘Hope’, with voice over by Morgan Freeman.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.’

50. Good Will Hunting (1997) [ IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

Good Will Hunting

The Plot: An erratic genius needs the right kind of guidance. Two other geniuses fight over what should be the right kind of guidance.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck co-writing an original screenplay and winning an Oscar for it.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “You’re not perfect, sport, and let me save you the suspense: this girl you’ve met, she’s not perfect either. But the question is whether or not you’re perfect for each other.”

 

Week 44

Movies: Non-English

In a Better World (Denmark,2010) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

in a better

Trailer: 

Winner of the Academy Award for the best foreign language film, this film from Denmark marries the liberal conscience of the Scandinavians with harsh realities of strife torn Africa. A Danish doctor serving in Africa has some ethical dilemmas to face and matters are not helped by the dysfunctional family he has back home. The film has been shot exquisitely, with the dust bowls of Africa contrasting with the serenity of the green fields in Denmark. The story is masterfully told, with an impending sense of disaster writ over it. The acting is competent, a reminder that good movies can be made without a lot of money.

Lust, Caution (Taiwan, 2007) [IMDB:7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%]

lust caution

Trailer:

Shanghai is the setting for this espionage thriller directed by double Oscar winner Ang Lee. A woman infiltrates the establishment and becomes the mistress of her target. What begins as a cautious relationship with clear cut motives turns into an affair replete with passion and intrigue. The film took the festival circuit by storm when it was released, partly owing to the fact that the love making scenes were not simulated. The performances are uniformly good and the story never loses its zing in the safe hands of Ang Lee. Watch this movie for the way the story has been woven. As the adage goes, this is a story on love but not a love story.

Movies I Saw This Week

Nebraska (2013) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

Nebraska

Trailer: 

Bruce Dern shows that experience in acting does count as he plays an old man with an alcohol problem and an even worse case of delusion. Falling for a marketing trick, he believes that he is the winner of a million dollar bounty which makes him take a road trip with his estranged and unwilling son to claim his ‘prize’. His encounters along the way and the reactions he elicits from other characters make up the rest of the story. The film is shot in black and white. The thing about the performance from Dern is that he is able to draw the viewer into the movie to the extent that the viewer may start to sympathize with him. Needless to say, the film is a Bruce Dern show all the way. His lack of Oscar wins make him a sentimental favourite this year but it could still be case of ‘so near yet so far’ for him.

Philomena (2013) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

Philomena

Trailer: 

An out of work BBC reporter finds common cause with a lady looking for her son who was taken away from her as a kid. Steve Coogan plays the liberal reporter who thinks himself to be beneath such ‘human interest stories’ and has no interest in the lives of common folks who seem below his radar of interest. He comes to the aid of a devout Catholic played by Judi Dench who holds on dearly to her beliefs even in the face of evidence that she was wronged by the church. The story is not riveting but the film does have a political statement to make. (Spoilers ahead) I was little amused that on discovering that her son was gay, Judie Dench says that she imagined him to be gay because he was sensitive child. This is exactly the kind of nonsense that gets you few brownie points but does not work in the real world. Think of it, sensitive children grow up to be gay. Even such gimmicks will not fetch Judi Dench the Oscar this year and I am willing to put my money on Cate Blanchette taking home the gong.

Frozen (2013) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

Frozen

Trailer: 

Anna wants to find her sister who has magical powers. She embarks on a journey to do so. Disney has positioned itself as the ultimate family brand and it is not difficult to imagine that Disney films will be sweet and heartwarming fare. I am not a fan of musicals and I find it difficult to sit through scenes in which the characters try out the strength of their vocal chords. The animation here is good but it is a reflection of the state of the animation industry that this film is the hot favourite to win the Animation Oscar this year. I yearn for the days of films like Wall E.

Jai Ho (India, 2014) [ IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 52%]

jai ho

Trailer: 

Think of all the issues on which there can be no debate on what is right, like patriotism, rights of the physically challenged, respect for women, corruption, right to education and so on. Get the dates (the ones on the calendar and not the girls) of Salman. Make him the common man (yes, the ‘being human’ poacher with a heart of gold). Get him to sermonize. When the social science class gets boring, bring on the songs. If songs are not your stuff, no problem. There are lots of action sequences where Salman turns up so that he can bash up all those who are eagerly waiting for the favour of being thrashed by him. If you still don’t get the story, it is about a perfect human being (who does not get drunk and maul down pavement dwellers) who does nothing but help people. He does not ask anything in return but asks the recipients of his help to help three more people. To illustrate this, he shows us that multiplication with 3 is indeed a great thing. After filming the movie, he then appears on ad campaigns and asks people to pay money and forward the films promos to three more people. In case you were wondering what is the technical name for such a scheme, it is called a Ponzi Scheme and Salman is at the top of the pyramid. In case you are still wondering, he has made fools out of you and laughed his way to the bank. Unfortunately, he knows that he cannot be prosecuted for making a Ponzi film.

Documentary Pick of the Week

The Act of Killing (2013) [ IMDB: 8.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

The Act of Killing

Trailer: 

The Indonesian forces killed millions of communists to wipe out communism from the country in the 1960s. Thugs and gangsters were the leading lights of this state sponsored mass killing. In the most courageous documentary to have come out in a long time, the filmmakers interview some of the men who perpetrated the crimes and who boast in public about the killings they have carried out. The killers are given the chance to recreate the killings in the format of a movie genre of their choosing. Watching this documentary is a surreal experience. It takes some time to comprehend what you see. The grave danger to the lives of the filmmakers is exemplified by the end credits in which half of the crew are listed as ‘Anonymous’. If there is justice in the world, this documentary should win over ’20 Feet from Stardom’ at the Oscars.

Brian De Palma Retrospective

Brian De Palma has made some landmark films in his time. A key feature of his movies is the presence of a flawed protagonist fighting his inner demons as he faces the rough world.

Scarface (1983) [ IMDB: 8.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

Scarface

Trailer:

Al Pacino plays a Cuban immigrant who turns to crime and loses his footing. Essential viewing.

The Untouchables (1987) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

Untouchables

Trailer:

The story of the infamous mafia man Al Capone. Must watch.

Casualties of War (1989) [ IMDB: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

Casualties of War

Trailer:  

A man is the ony dissenting voice in his group when they decide to take a Vietnamese girl as a prisoner. Set during the Vietnam war. The best performance in the career of Michael J Fox.

Eagerly Waiting for: ‘300: Rise of an Empire’ because I had liked the first one in the series.

Did you know: Katherine Hepburn only drank water throughout ‘The African Queen’ production as a protest against John Huston and Humphrey Bogart’s alcoholism. However, most of the cast and crew became sick from the water and only Bogart and Huston were unaffected because they drank only whiskey. (Source: Huffington Post)

Week 38

Movies: Non-English

Maria Full of Grace (Colombia, 2004) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

Maria Full of Grace

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5yJOXgxZw8.

One of the few foreign films to have got the lead actress an Oscar nomination, this Colombian movie explores the dark lanes of illegal immigration and drug trafficking into USA. Catalina Moreno looks the part as the woman trying to escape the low life in Colombia for better prospects in the US. She accepts the proposal to act as a drug mule to achieve her ambitions. The film is not judgmental. The focus is on the person who is not just another face in the crowd. There is no stirring music or emotional manipulation and the camera hovers around trying to capture the intricate nuances of the story that is being told. I wouldn’t call it a must watch but it is a movie that deserves a good look.

Paradise Now (Palestine, France, 2005) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

Paradise Now

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xi9yiGePxKw

Why do people turn to terrorism? There are no easy answers but ‘Paradise Now’ tries to address a complicated issue and offers a counter to ‘Munich’, also released in 2005. The film is also an exploration of the frustrations of the people of Palestine. The plot involves a suicide bombing to be carried out by two friends. The story follows them on their mission. That journey is also the setting for the dialogue on the complexity of the issues they face as Palestinians and that tete-a-tete is the crux of what the movie wants to address. I guess even Mossad would have been interested.

Movies I Saw This Week

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) [ IMDB: 8.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%]

Wolf of Wall Street

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iszwuX1AK6A

There is hardly a moment in the movie when Leonardo DiCaprio is sober. That also makes it a movie perennially on dope. Add to that some sleaze, women, Ferraris, FBI and even a storm. What you get is a film throbbing with energy reaching the point of hysteria. For those not knowing Martin Scorsese, they would be imagining him to be a 21 year old director and it is his creative vision at such a late stage in his career that truly stands out. Leonardo DiCaprio brings out a very strong performance but it may still not land him the elusive Oscar. He has a very able supporting cast but in the end the film tells a story that is very cliched. It is a moralistic take on a middle class boy gone bad and traces his meteoric rise and fall. There have been numerous films that have dealt with that template and this one offers no big surprises. The saving grace is the taut screenplay which keeps you engaged throughout. The film is a true entertainer and one of the better works of 2013. It will get a few nominations at the Oscars but more than one Oscar will be stretching the limits of optimism.

Don Jon (2013) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes:81%]

Don Jon

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6615kYTpOSU

A young man obsessed with sex, pornography and women goes through a catharsis and finds true love (or should I say true sex?). Along the way he enjoys confessing his sins at the church and finds out that his sister is not the douchebag he thinks her to be. I found the film to be a good one time watch. Though it has the feeling of pop art, it gets progressively serious as it proceeds and this finally separates it from the run of mill romcoms.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013) [ IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 72%]

mandela

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmm-aazQQKA

Idris Alba is Nelson Mandela in this biopic that traces the life of the legendary statesman. Watching the movie is like contemplating about the possibilities of what could have been. Frankly, the movie is the biggest letdown of 2013. More so because had it been a half decent effort, it could have ridden a sympathy wave to glory. As things stand, it is second only to the selfie of Obama at Mandela’s memorial service in the list of gaffes with respect to Mandela in a year when the world has been bending backwards in paying respect to the leader. It is a film that will soon be forgotten unlike the revolutionary at the heart of its story.

Sidney Lumet Retrospective

Sidney Lumet has been the director of many path breaking movies which have redefined movies. Besides the three movies introduced in detail here, he has been at the helm for some remarkable movies like ‘Prince of the City’, ‘Network’ (reviewed earlier in the blog), ‘Running on Empty’, ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, ‘Serpico’, ‘Find Me Guilty’ and ‘The Verdict’.

12 Angry Men (1957) [IMDB: 8.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%]

12 Angry Men

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7CBKT0PWFA

Twelve men in a jury debate through reason and logic to reach a consensus. One of the movies to watch before you die.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007) [ IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Jhrxn7QVDc

Fifty years after making ’12 Angry Men’ Sidney Lumet shows that class is permanent with this truly riveting flick about the dark secrets of a family. Must see.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975) [ IMDB:8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

Dog-Day-Afternoon

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZHS7zexXlU

One of the best hostage dramas ever. Classic.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth (2013) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: Not yet rated)

Mike Tyson Undisputed Truth

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVrC9xfBUHk

The story of Mike Tyson. In his own words.

Eagerly Waiting for: ‘Labor Day’ because Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin can create fireworks on screen.

Did you know: In 2013, 12 Hollywood movies grossed more than 200 million dollars each which is a new record.

Week 29

Movies: Non-English

A Prophet (France, 2009) [ IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

prophet

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l69ARbQt-Ko

One of the truly sensational French films of the last decade, ‘A Prophet’ tells the gripping story of an Arab convict who plays the system to emerge on top when he is incarcerated. In a prison where Italian and Arab gangs fight each other, he rises to the top even when he is the only Arab member in a group of Corsicans. For a complex film, it has a free flowing screenplay and taut editing. Reasons enough for it to sweep all major awards in its release year.

Confession of Murder (South Korea, 2012) [IMDB:6.8, Rottten Tomatoes: Not yet rated]

confession

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZqGR_auPhk

After a 15 year statute on limitations expires, a serial killer publishes his memoirs detailing each of his murders. The emotionally drained detective who was looking at the case soon finds a reason to re-look at the events. This South Korean thriller starts on an interesting premise but mostly fires blanks when some real action was the need of the hour. Leaves you with a feeling of having left your meal mid way.

English Retrospective

Seabiscuit (2003) [ IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 77%]

seabiscuit

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yv6RnFTlu4I

Based on the award winning non fiction book on a little known racing legend, ‘Seabiscuit’ is more about the people behind the horse than the horse itself. With little more finesse this movie could have been a classic but then it has an Achilles heel and a very prominent one at that. It trivializes the ‘Great Depression’ as if Seabiscuit was at the core of the recovery and return of hope. It is in this gamble where it tries to blend in history that the movie falls flat. This is not to say that it is a bad movie. It has its moments. Some of them truly great and the movie is an inspirational one. For better or worse, it is not about the horse.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

Glengarry Glen Ross Postrer2

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgAU2RJHfvE

The machinations in a real estate company. Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin and Kevin Spacey. Six reasons to watch the movie. Based on a play by David Mamet. Make that seven reasons.

My Cousin Vinny (1992) [IMDB: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%]

My-Cousin-Vinny-Poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SL4HdaZXuOw

Few Hollywood movies have made me laugh like ‘My Cousin Vinny’. If you start laughing there is no reason to stop. The plot involves an attorney trying to save his cousin and his cousin’s friend when they are wrongfully accused of murder. Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei have a field day. Never knew courts could be such fun. Must watch.

Movies I Saw This Week

Now is Good (2012) [ IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 64%]

Now is Good Movie Poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENg2HnY5UuM

A girl suffering from leukemia has a bucket list to execute. Even though the theme has been done to death (no pun intended) in movies, this one tugs at your heart in some moments. It is very difficult to make bad movies or truly great ones out of such themes. What you usually get is average stuff but this one is a little above average.

The Look of Love (2013) [IMDB: 5.8, Rotten Tomaotes: 56%]

look of love

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Z4yqK1KxuY

A low for Michael Winterbottom who was once a very promising director. The Britisher’s attempt at trying to give a sentimental look to the life of Paul Raymond who became Britain’s richest man by appealing to people’s baser instincts, does not wash.

Odd Thomas (2013) [IMDB:6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 65%]

odd thomas

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEnvutQ0UI4

From the creators of ‘The Mummy’, this one gives the look of a low budget film which was made on a holiday. A young man has supernatural powers but cannot talk about them. He has to save a town and his girlfriend when devilish forces attempt to create havoc. Yawn.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Marley (2012) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

marley

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuIkYtYi4b0

Bob Marley analyzed threadbare. Love music? Must See.

Eagerly Waiting for: ‘The Armstrong Lie’ because it could be the documentary that exposes Lance Armstrong for what he is; a drug cheat.

Did you know: The Hollywood Walk of Fame has the names of more than 2500 artists embedded on it.

Week 19

Movies: Non-English

The Life of Rose {La Vie En Rose} (France, 2007) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

La Vie En Rose movie poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xujvIs0DhJU

In his review of this biopic of legendary French singer Edith Piaf, Stephen Holden of the ‘The New York Times’ wrote and I quote, “The most astonishing immersion of one performer into the body and soul of another ever encountered on film.” I concur. Marion Cotillard was a shoo in for the Best Actress at the Oscars, BAFTAs and Golden Globes making her only the second actress after Sophia Loren to win the Oscar for that category in a non-English movie. The film tells the bittersweet story of Edith Piaf who died young. This is one of those biopics where you genuinely feel for the character who is felled by a succession of tragedies. Marion Cotillard is exceptional in the role and (Spoiler Ahead) her acting in the scene when she discovers the death of her lover is unforgettable. Watch it for her and get introduced to Edith Piaf whose death was the only instance after the Second World War when Parisian traffic came to a standstill.

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Romania, 2005) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

death of

Tralier: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB5BktF00_Y

This Romanian tour de force is a niche comedy. It is not a chaplinesque slapstick and requires you to see the biting sarcasm at the heart of the film. The good thing is that even with the subtitles the humour is not lost. The story is that of a lonely old man who is stretchered off from one hospital to another on a particularly interesting night. The pace is rather slow but the dialogues more than make up for it. Overall, a good watch.

English Retrospective

The Paper Chase (1973) [ IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

paper chase

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLZgjP-qgpQ

The story of life at Harvard Law School told through the eyes of one of the less stellar students on campus. It tells the reality of high pressure academic life marked by rigor which is what finally sets apart elite institutions. Life is lonely and the weather is often very cold. To add to this the teachers are geniuses who expect the same quality from the students. It is a very grounded movie which tells things as they are. Very well written. I particularly like the classroom scenes with strong dialogues and games of one upmanship. Also, it looks very authentic.

MASH (1972) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

Mash

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvijJ3RnRc8

Irreverent comedy which tests the limits of comedy and often breaches it through distasteful antics. The interesting part is that all the fun is by doctors and nurses of the US Army stationed in Korea during the war. They need an escape from what they encounter in their daily lives and once they decide to turn on the style it becomes a free for all madcap entertainer which maybe the best comedy in an army camp setting. Recommended only for those who can see the lighter side in everything.

Scent of a Woman (1992) [IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

scent_of_a_woman_poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GUvsJc3vvE

How many Oscars has Al Pacino won? One. The legendary actor got his only piece of Oscar glory for playing a blind retired army Colonel in the remake of an Italian film by the same name. How his imposing and confident personality comes to the rescue of a student who comes to take care of him forms the crux of the story. His dialogue delivery, screen presence and emoting are essential viewing for anyone who cares to know the difference between run of the mill stuff and great acting. Essential viewing.

Movies I Saw This Week

The Conjuring (2013) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

conjuring

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k10ETZ41q5o

First of all, this is a really scary movie and watching it in a movie hall with good sound effects is the only way one can do justice to it. The director and the writer duo have finally hit the bull’s eye after making a series of average horror movies. There is a certain air of imminent danger throughout the movie. Even routine events are shot as if something really bad is going to happen. In that respect the film takes some time to get the feel right. If you enjoy being scared, then this one is for you. Apparently the film is based on a true story but you will have to stretch your imagination to believe that all that really happened. There are some unintentional funny scenes. Like when the priest says, ” The kids aren’t baptized. The approval (for the exorcism) has to come directly from the Vatican.” Really?

Chennai Express (India,2013) [ IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 57%]

chennai-express_13570983881

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZGR5Sj1Bfo

Congratulations to Shahrukh Khan for having a proper hit after five years. Congratulations to the Indian multiplex viewer for making another dud a hit. Congratulations to Deepika Padukone for setting the new benchmark for Hindi spoken with a Tamil accent. Congratulations to myself that this movie is not playing within a 1000 miles of my residence. Truth be told, something inside me died every time Deepika spoke in Hindi. I have never seen such a hammed performance for a really long time. Shahrukh Khan plays a 40 year old, a fact which he keeps on repeating as if he is doing the viewer a favour by not playing a 25 year old. Truth: Shahrukh Khan is 47 years old and looks 50. Maybe the dialogue to that effect was true but then nobody would have noticed it because the star was peddling his Nokia phone worth Rs. 34250. You see, the phone still takes calls after being thrown out from a running train. Marketing lesson learnt: Nokia phones are sturdy and built for India where even the goons cannot destroy them. The movie may have swept the box office but one group who would have a tough time watching it with their families: Halwais. The hero gets off at a place near a waterfall on his way to Chennai but when he has to escape he finds himself in international waters near Sri Lanka. Take a look at the map of India. I am as lost for words as Shahrukh is in that scene. The action scenes or the ‘cars flying in the air’ scenes look like shots Rohit Shetty wanted to put in ‘Golmaal’ but then the producer of that series may have told him to keep them for another day.  Wafers have been made thinner to a new size called ‘Chennai Express Screenplay’. You know who is the biggest star and saving grace of the movie? The pictures of Rajnikanth when the end credits roll.

Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobaara! (India, 2013) [ IMDB: 5.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 30%]

Once-Upon-A-Time-In-Mumbaai-Dobara-Full-Movie-Online

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dj9UXzyDsOA

What Shahrukh Khan can do, Akshay Kumar can’t. People don’t rush to his movies anymore because they have grown wiser after his gems like ‘Joker’ and ‘Thank You’. So he can kiss the 100 crore club goodbye unless he has a remake to hang on to. To add to this he has ‘accomplished’ actors like Imran Khan to thwart his every attempt to rise above mediocrity. Imran Khan may be in movies only because he has the right connections. His acting is defined by consistency. He looks the same and acts the same in every single movie. Only the costumes change. If there is a fan of Imran Khan out there, you are my enemy just because of the fact that you are a fan of Imran Khan. This movie is a pathetic attempt to cash in on the success of its prequel or is it that they don’t even put an effort to find a name for a movie. So just tell the world that it is the second part of some hit. Sleep, watch paint dry, count the waves on the beach, do anything but don’t waste your time on this flick.

Now You See Me (2013) [ IMDB: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 49%]

now you see me

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzJNYYkkhzc

An important tenet of magic is that the viewer should know that he has been tricked and should be generally happy about it. The keyword is, ‘tricked’. This movie makes use of all the technical advances in movie making for a film on magic. The problem is that it uses this to cheat the viewer and make a fool out of him. While trying to sound scientific with a nod to logic the movie is so full of loopholes in logic that the credibility of the film is easily questioned. From a piranha scene relying on editing to a bank robbery scene relying on god knows what, the movie is an insult to intelligence. The second time a character started playing the imaginary violin, I was thinking ‘what the heck is going on?’ The ending is convenient but to focus on it would be to say that other parts are of admissible quality. They are not so. I don’t want to do a laundry list of scenes where common sense is thrown out of the window because that would constitute half of the movie (or even more). As always, Morgan Freeman looks majestic. Thank god, he does not do any magic trick.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Tabloid (2010) [ IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%]

taboid

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVtopEahArc

A beauty queen kidnaps a Mormon Missionary with whom she is in love. The incident creates waves. Thirty years later a documentary tries to uncover the truth. Mostly fun.

Eagerly waiting For: ‘The Monuments Men’ because it has Matt and Clooney.

Did you know: The ‘Hollywood’ sign in Los Angeles originally spelled ‘Hollywoodland’ when it was installed in 1923. ‘Land’ was removed only in 1949.