I am happy to report that accuracy levels for the last week’s predictions were way beyond my expectations. Congratulations to all the winners at the 2014 Oscars.
Like Water for Chocolate (Mexico, 1993) [ IMDb: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]
Considered a landmark in the history of Mexican cinema, this film tells the story of a man who is forced to marry the sister of the woman he is in love with. It is a lyrically told tale with moments where the director attempts to have scenes of magical realism. The performances are nothing to crow about. The way the story plays out and the twists and turns in the predictable family life make the film an interesting watch. The film remains one of the peaks of Mexican cinema. Highly recommended.
Bicycle Thieves (Italy, 1948) [IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]
Often cited as the greatest film ever to be made, this classic from Italy is a must watch for anyone with even a passing interest in great films and the history of cinema. It is a simple story of a man and his son in search of a cycle. What makes it a classic is the universal theme it deals with, which has stood the test of time and can be understood by the common man anywhere in the world. An absolute must watch.
Movies I Saw This Week
Oldboy (2013) [IMDB:5.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 44%]
Based on the Korean film with the same title this film deviates from the original, with mixed results. (Spoilers Ahead) While this one is shot particularly well, it leaves some gaping holes in the plot. A man with a dubious character is kidnapped and imprisoned for two decades without him knowing the reason for the ordeal he is put through. While in confinement, his only reason for staying alive is his hope of seeing his daughter. The film has a small but significant shift in the climax which looks good but is not easily explained by facts. It does sound strange when a 20 million bounty is unnecessarily offered to the prisoner without any explanation of why he is at the receiving end of such a largess. It does neatly fit in towards the end but the ending is just too convenient. In all this, the prisoner shows no remorse for his actions and he continues with his pre confinement persona after release too. I guess many thugs like him would be happy to go through the ordeal if they were offered 20 million dollars.
Hasee Toh Phasee (India, 2014) [ IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 64%]
The film is a genuine romantic comedy which falters severely towards the end. (Spoilers ahead) It is very difficult to understand why the director chose to go with Parineeti Chopra as the choice of the lead in the climax of the movie. It is evident that the protagonist had a strong seven year old relationship going with his fiancee and for him to leave her for a girl he meets after his engagement looks a dumb idea. This is augmented by the fact at no stage there are strong sparks between the hero and the new girl in his life, who also happens to be a runaway thief. The film has some really funny scenes and sharp dialogues but all the effort goes down the drain when the director chooses to go for the easy and conventional ending with lot of glycerin induced scenes thrown in. The acting is competent and the screenplay hold on its own for large parts but the songs are as stale as yesterday’s leftovers. Still, a one time watch.
Gunday (India, 2014) [ IMDB: 1.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 5%]
Hell hath no fury like Bangladeshis scorned. ‘Gunday’ has been at the receiving end of Bangladeshi rage as mass voting from this country has made Gunday the worst rated film in the history of IMDB. ‘Gunday’ now occupies the unenviable position of the worst film in movie history going by popular sentiment. What has led to such negative reaction is the accusation of misrepresentation of the freedom struggle of Bangladesh. Bangladeshis have taken offence and responded with full vigour. As for the film, it is a triangular love story. It is a stock template of Bollywood movies and offers nothing new. The film is loud, boring and a total disaster. It has kids who think they are men and a spinster who thinks she is still a crowd puller. Come to think of it, this hated film hit the screens on Valentine’s day. The irony of it all.
Documentary Pick of the Week
The Armstrong Lie (2013) [ IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]
For all those who are still in denial that Lance Armstrong was the biggest cheat in the history of sports, get your dose of reality from the man himself. Even the director’s attempts to save him fall flat. Must watch.
The : D Retrospective
My Fair Lady (1964) [ IMDB:7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]
A lady from a poor neighbourhood is picked up for a social experiment and groomed into a fine lady. Audrey Hepburn carries the film on her tiny shoulders and does it with remarkable success. It remains a mystery to me how the film landed up with eight Oscars because the best it could have hoped for was an invite to Hepburn to the Oscars. Watch it just for her.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]
An underrated gem which earned a young Di Caprio his first Oscar nomination. The plot involves Johnny Depp who is burdened with a dysfunctional family and his attempts to break free are stifled. The film has a great ensemble acting performance with all the actors putting in memorable performances. A bittersweet tale which deserves a more wider audience.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) [ IMDB:6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%]
An author buys a house in Tuscany in the spur of a moment. Over a long period of time many characters enter and leave her life and she keeps on searching for true love. Watch to find out if she does find love. Diane Lane is a dignified presence throughout the movie and her acting makes you root for her.
Eagerly Waiting For: ‘Blended’ because Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler think they are still good to be in romantic comedies.
Did you know: Following the tremendous success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the New Zealand government even created a Minister for Lord of the Rings, whose remit was to exploit all the economic opportunities the films represented.