Edition 71

The Non-English Movie of The Week

Assassination (South Korea, 2015) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, My Rating: 7.5]

Assassination_(2015_movie)_poster)

Trailer

Set in 1933 in Korea when Korea was under Japanese occupation, the movie captures the attempt to assassinate a top Japanese Commander by a committed bunch of nationalists. Lavishly mounted and slickly edited to airbrush the inconsistencies in the plot, this action-drama provides enough entertainment to keep you on the edge of your seat for a large part of the movie. The movie feels like an epic and the director should be commended for stretching every cent of the $16 million budget. Definitely worth a watch.

Movies I Saw This Week

Spotlight (2015) [IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes:97%, My Rating:8.5 ]

Oscarometro2016Spotlight

Trailer

Featuring the best ensemble cast assembled in 2015, this early Oscar favorite tells the true story of the Boston Globe expose of the widespread abuse of children by the clergy in Catholic churches. The 2002 story was an act of journalistic courage. The movie is an ode to the good old ways of investigative journalism and a gentle reminder of the power of a newspaper to do good. The movie underplays the heroes of the story. There are no trumpets here, no soaring background score, and no singular acts of courage. It is about a group of men and women using their best abilities to do what they do best. They are ordinary folks who have concerns of their own and are appalled by the state of affairs. ‘Spotlight’ is a subdued movie and will now be the gold standard for any movie on journalism.

The Big Short (2015) [IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes:90, My Rating:8.0 ]

the-big-short-poster-new

Trailer

Coming from author Michael Lewis and producer Brad Pitt who collaborated for the much admired ‘Moneyball’, this film is about a set of defiant individuals who saw what others refused to see and gained from it. ‘The Big Short’ follows the lives of a few men who bet on the bursting of the housing bubble that culminated in the financial meltdown of 2008. With a cast that was only bettered by the ‘Spotlight’ team in 2015, the film deftly manoeuvres through the series of events which involve some heavy financial jargon. The film comes up with a new way to explain the jargon. The Hollywood studios must be commended for betting their money on what is a difficult topic to make a film on and the American audiences must be equally complimented for their reception to such movies. Steve Carell and Christian Bale put in commanding performances in what is certainly one of the best movies of the year.

Steve Jobs (2015) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes:85%, My Rating:7.5 ]

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Trailer

Michael Fassbender gives his career best performance in this biopic of Steve Jobs directed by Academy Award winner Danny Boyle based on Academy Award winner AAron Sorkin’s screenplay. The film is episodic and features the behind the scenes story of Steve Jobs before every major product launch in his life. Since the movie focuses on the personal life of Steve Jobs, a viewer without much knowledge of the business aspect of his life will find it a bit difficult to understand the subject matter. The movie’s greatest failure is that it demands familiarity with the Apple maestro. To the credit of the movie it must be said that it shows a personal side of Jobs that the media seldom covered before his death. Though the film is an entertaining one and an artistic success, its commercial failure may point to the fatigue of the audiences due to too many Jobs films releasing in s short span of time.

Beasts of No Nation (2015) [IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes:93%, My Rating:8.0]

Beasts-of-No-Nation_poster_goldposter_com_15

Trailer

The first thing that struck me while watching this gem of a film, is the familiarity with the geography. Later I discovered that the film was shot in Ghana but the film is set in a unnamed country and tells the story of child soldier Agu who loses his family and ends up being part of a ragtag militia of rebels. Idris Elba puts in his best performance as the leader of the decrepit but highly committed group. It is interesting to note that he never picks up the gun himself even when leading ambushes. Abraham Attah carries the weight of the movie on his tiny shoulders with a towering performance. The greater acclaim deservedly should go to producer-director-cinematographer-writer Cary Joji Fukunaga for creating an engaging and spellbinding movie of the highest quality.

Slow West (2015) [IMDB: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes:92%, My Rating:7.5 ]

slow-west-poster-3

Trailer

‘Slow West’ is the hidden marvel of 2015. It is a movie which resurrects the Western but is not a film that should be put in compartments. Jay travels from Scotland to seek his Rose in the wild West of USA in late 19th century. Meanwhile Rose is wanted for murder and a group of bounty hunters are after her life. Charming in its unique way and telling a story which can truly be called original, ‘Slow West’ gradually becomes an unforgettable movie. The movie also uses clever tricks in narration. The movie is also an unflattering look at life in the lawless terrain. One of the best movies of the year.

The Good Dinosaur (2015) [IMDB: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes:76, My Rating: 7.0]

 

The_Good_Dinosaur_poster

Trailer

This movie was plagued by numerous script revisions and disagreements between the creators that even the director was changed midway through the project. It also comes hot on the heels of the success of the classic ‘Inside Out’. Add to that the Pixar label. The weight of expectations crushes an otherwise decent flick worth a watch. The movie is set in a world in which dinosaurs are not extinct and run families which (strangely) look like human families. The weak dinosaur in the family gets his chance to ‘grow up’ when he is separated from the family. During this time he meets and befriends a human child, and embarks on a multitude of adventures. The excellent animation is no match for a movie which could be called ‘Finding the Way Home’. I believe that the movie itself would have been better if the protagonist was a child but then it would be called ‘Baby’s Day Out’.

No Escape (2015) [IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes:46%, My Rating:6.0 ]

No Escape

Trailer

Owen Wilson stars as the patriarch of an American family in an unnamed Southeast Asian country facing the ire of violent mobs protesting against the company for which Wilson works. Providing some good thrills and yet never shying away from stereotyping, the film is good enough to deserve a single viewing.

Adi Kapyare Kootamani (Malayalam, 2015) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes:Not yet rated, My Rating:7.5 ]

pic-adi-kapyare-kootamani-film-3287

Trailer

This rib tickling comedy works on an entirely Indian premise where a girl who enters a boys hostel needs to be escorted out without the knowledge of the hostelers. With winning performances from all involved, this movie which is made on a shoe string budget laughs its way into the hearts of viewers.

Two Countries (Malayalam, 2015) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: Not yet rated, My Rating:7.0 ]

image-two-countries-wallpaper-24

Trailer

Coming from a team which has only made hits together, the movie tells the story of a happy go lucky man who marries an Indian-Canadian. Peppered with humorous scenes, the film is a laugh riot. Yet another proof that the finest comedy in the country is produced in Malayalam.

Charlie [IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes:Not yet rated, My Rating:6.0 ]

charlie

Trailer

A girl moves into a rickety flat where she discovers the possessions of the former tenant. Intrigued by what she sees, she sets out to find the man behind the story. What she and the audience discover forms the crux of a story that is cloyingly sweet and preachy in parts. Neither boring nor great.

Documentary of the Week

Next Goal Wins [IMDB: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes:100%, My Rating:8.5 ]

nextgoalwinsposter

Trailer

The soccer team of American Samoa holds the record for the worst defeat in international soccer (a 31-0 drubbing at the the hands of Australia). Their goalkeeper gets nightmares in his sleep. In fact, American Samoa could never score a goal in an international match. Then everything changes. A true story of ecstasy, heartbreak and redemption. Must see.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Macbeth’ with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.

Did you know: ‘Jurassic World’ was the highest grossing film in USA in 2015.

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Week 32

Movies: Non-English

The Cranes are Flying (Russia, 1957) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

cranes are

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGsXmwPj0TA

This Russian classic is set during the Second World War. A young girl is forced to marry someone she doesn’t love when her lover is away in the battlefield. The most outstanding feature of the movie is the universally acclaimed cinematography. Some of the scenes have been shot so magnificently that they can be used to teach cinematography. Unlike many contemporary movies where beautiful images are confused for good cinematography, here the camera moves to create the right mood for the story. The story is not exceptional but holds your attention even after half a century. In addition to this some competent acting also helped the movie clinch the Palme D’or at Cannes. Must see if you want to know anything about Russian cinema.

The Wind Will Carry Us (Iran, 1999) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

Wind_Will_Carry_Us_poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsS3sXwwwNo

An engineer moves into a rural community and it changes his outlook towards life and people. This Iranian tour de force is a reminder that Iran always punches above its weight in the world of cinema with a handful of exceptionally talented filmmakers. The film is a bit slow but like the Turkish film ‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’ reviewed a few weeks ago, it is not the story that matters but the setting. The landscapes are haunting and there is a wild beauty about them. For folks from the cities it is a reminder that time stands still in many places and in those places people take life as it comes.

English Retrospective

The Constant Gardener (2005) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%]

constant gardener

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYXYzzng3Fo

A man tries to find out the reason for his wife’s murder and discovers more than what he had bargained for, in this film set in Africa. Ralph Fiennes brings his trademark intensity to his role as a man harrowed by guilt and searching for answers; in equal measure. The showstopper though, is the performance by Rachel Weisz who should be doing more of these kind of roles. She has a magnetic presence and  almost carries the whole film on her shoulders. Watch this deadly concoction of politics, espionage and corporate greed.

Trainspotting (1996) [ IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

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Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2GKVtWsXKY

One of my friends once told me that the scenes of drug abuse in ‘Trainspotting’ could only be shot by someone who has experienced it himself. I don’t know whether Danny Boyle has ‘experience’ in this category but in the process he made arguably his finest movie in ‘Trainspotting’. The protagonist and his friends are habitual drug abusers in this story set in Scotland. He wants to get out of it all and make a decent living. Ewan McGregor, a regular with Danny Boyle, is in top form and his accent and and acting are pitch perfect.It is a story about friendship and group behaviour. For all its smugness and style, the movie is a psychological study of how certain characters behave under special circumstances. Must watch.

Big Fish (2003) [IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

big fish

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3YVTgTl-F0

I would love to see a movie made by Tim Burton which has a story fully set in the real world. ‘Big Fish’ suffers from Burton’s tendency to go overboard when simplicity could have helped his cause. The film’s story has a man trying to recollect his father’s life through a series of anecdotes. The colourful man that his father was, there are too many things that don’t fit in the puzzle. The movie is quite good but is not helped by some uninspired acting. Like most of Burton’s movies, it leaves a feeling of having missed the woods for the trees.

Movies I Saw This Week

42 (2013) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

42

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9RHqdZDCF0

This film is based on the life of the first ever African-American Major League Baseball player Jackie Robinson. I did not know about this true legend earlier. He was an icon of the civil rights movement and an inspiration for many. His on field behaviour was impeccable. His off field life was exceptional. The movie may not have done justice to him because it would be so difficult to capture the life of such an extraordinary man in a single film. Other wise it is a very good film to watch and one of the better ones to have come out in 2013. The deep divides in the US society during his period are exposed and it is on watching such movies that we realize how far we have come from those days of inequality. I literally had tears by the time the end credits started rolling. The movies ticks every cliche for a sports movie but then inspiration is a cliche I love.

Prisoners (2013) [ IMDB:8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

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Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpXfcTF6iVk

I have only two complaints against ‘Prisoners’. One, that it is painfully slow. Second, that no matter what, everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty and this dictum does not justify some horrible torture scenes in the movie. These apart, the movie is one of the best to have come out in 2013. The most remarkable thing is the high quality performances put in by every single person on screen. Hugh Jackman offers a new side to his acting as the charged up American who sings the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ in the shower. Maria Bello as his wife is outstanding. I wonder how she acts with such composure when they say ‘action’. Paul Dano is an exceptional talent and his choice of movies shows that he has the right priorities. Overall, an engrossing film to watch.

Ramleela (India,2013) [ IMDB: 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 62%]

ramleela1

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StphRCLkx6Q

Imagine Sanjay Leela Bhansali in the black and white era. What would he be telling? Nothing, because without colour his movies mean nothing. After a string of flops he returns to Gujarat which had earlier saved him with ‘Hum Dil de Chuke Sanam’. He even dons the hat of the music director for RamLeela. I suggest that the next time he leave it to someone who knows the trade. Since finding new stories is tough for Indian film makers, Bhansali also relies on ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Now no one call that a bad story. Bhansali sets it in Gujarat and it is easily understandable that the movie is shot in a set than in Gujarat. The story is set in a village where people shoot at children for the fun of it. Seriously, not funny. The major selling point of the movie is that the hero bares his torso. Maybe the women like it because I thought that Deepika Padukone looked stunning. The end is a disgrace to Shakespeare. (Spoilers ahead) Lovers kissing with guns pointed at each other? Are you kidding? Put them aside. Finish the kiss and then shoot each other. Take your own time. Shakespeare must have turned in his grave.

Documentary Pick of the Week

The Island President (2011) [ IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes:98%]

island pres

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

Mohammad ‘anni’ Nasheed came to power in Maldives in its first open election is 2008 dethroning Gayoom who ruled for 30 years prior to that. He recognized that the very existence of his nation would be in peril if measures to control global warming were not taken. The documentary captures his efforts in that direction. The unrestrained access that the filmmakers got gives a peek into the behind the scenes deliberations at government level. The setting is Maldives. So the images are beautiful. Too bad that Mr. Nasheed lost the reelection bid in 2013.

Eagerly Waiting for:‘Frozen’ because animation needs to wake up from the hibernation mode.

Did you know: The Golden Globes are awarded by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Silver Week Edition

We are reaching a numerical milestone of 25 continuous weeks of publication. I would like to thank each and every one from the 49 countries across 6 continents who found something interesting to read here. This edition is a celebration of love and features 25 of the most romantic movies I have ever seen.

25. The Yellow Handkerchief (Japan, 1977) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%]

Yellow Handkerchief Shiawase no kiiroi hankachi DVD Review

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAOl7Ii-TKI

The Best Line: Too many to mention. Not really. I don’t know Japanese.

The Plot: Three unrelated people take a road trip, one of them an ex convict who is on his way to meet his wife for the first time after his release from the prison.

Where is the romance: Some endings are truly sensational. This is one such ending.

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

roman holiday

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIFo0txAvuE

The Best Line: “Tell you what. Why don’t we do all those things, together?”

The Plot: A princess enjoys her day in anonymity with an American newsman and falls for him.

Where is the romance: Everywhere, except in the end.

23. Atonement (2007) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

atonement

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWPZDi723Eo

The Best Line: “Had they let me, every day, I would have been there every day.”

The Plot: A young girl changes the love story of her sister.

Where is the romance: In the book in the movie.

22. An Affair to Remember (1957) [ IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]

affair to

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

The Best Line: “There must be something between us, even if it’s only an ocean.”

The Plot: A playboy meets the love of his life on a ship. They decide to meet six months later at the Empire State building.

Where is the romance: When you want Cary Grant to know what you know, in the last scene of the film.

21. Titanic (1997) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

titanic

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCy5WQ9S4c0

The Best Line: “Where to, Miss?” “To the stars!”

The Plot: An aristocrat lady falls in love with a poor artist on the doomed maiden voyage of the Titanic.

Where is the romance: In the tragedy.

20. When Harry Met Sally (1989) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

when haary

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8DgDmUHVto

The Best Line: “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

The Plot: Harry and Sally have been friends for a long time. It takes time for them to realize that they were meant to be together.

Where is the romance: For such an out and out sugary romance, the most memorable scene is the one in the restaurant.

19. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (India, 1995) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes 94%]

ddlj

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U9SpwJ9TCs

The Best Line: ” Iss ladke se zyaada pyar tujhe koi aur nahi kar sakta” (No one can love you more than this boy).

The Plot: After Raj met Simran, love was never the same.

Where is the romance: Mustard fields got the biggest makeover in terms of reputation. After Raj met Simran, mustard fields were never the same.

18.  The Apartment (1960) [ IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

apartment

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4OXm9-E8OQ

The Best Line: “That’s the way it crumbles.. cookie-wise.”

The Plot: The girl of his dreams is seeing his married boss.

Where is the romance: It is about finding true love and the triumph of the underdog.

17. Gone With the Wind (1939) [ IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

gone with the

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mM8iNarcRc

The Best Line: “You should be kissed and often; and by someone who knows how.”

The Plot: A woman loves someone so blindly that she is not able to see the man who loves her the most.

Where is the romance: In the roughness.

16. Doctor Zhivago (1965) [IMDB: 7.9, IMDB: 85%]

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Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAWrXTn5Www

The Best Line: “There’s an extraordinary girl at this party.” “I know. I’m dancing with her.”

The Plot: Doctor Zhivago is in love with two women and in the background is the Russian Revolution.

Where is the romance: All the scenes at railway stations, especially the last one.

15.  Annie Hall (1977) [IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

annie hall

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBzHphcc2Jw

The Best Line: “That is the most fun I’ve ever had without laughing.”

The Plot: The compelling romance of a comedian and a singer.

Where is the romance: Love fades but the idea of love is intact.

14. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

Slumdog-Millionaire-2008

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIzbwV7on6Q

The Best Line: “I knew you’d be watching.”

The Plot: A game show is his only hope for finding his long lost love.

Where is the romance: Every question brings him close to his love.

13. Before Sunrise (1995) [IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes; 100%]

before sunrise

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v6X-Dytlko

The Best Line: “Isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”

The Plot: A man and woman meet on a train and spend an evening together in Vienna.

Where is the romance: If they did not make ‘Before Sunset’, you would still be thinking about the possibilities.

12. Breathless (France, 1960) [ IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

Breathless-1960-poster2

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJFFy3soy9Y

The Best Line: “Informers inform, burglars burgle, murderers murder, lovers love.”

The Plot: A murderer and a girl escape and hide in Italy.

Where is the romance: In the ambiguity.

11. Wall-E (2008) [ IMDB: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

wall e

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alIq_wG9FNk

The Best Line: “Computer, define ‘dancing’.”

The Plot: A robot goes in search of his love.

Where is the romance: The moment when WALL-E falls in love with Eve.

10. Notting Hill (1999) [ IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

NottingHillRobertsGrant

The Best Line: ” I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

The Plot: The unlikely romance of a superstar and a bookseller.

Where is the romance: In the park.

9. Lost in Translation (2003) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

lost in translation

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYAS92XPvIM

The Best Line: “Can you keep a secret? I’m trying to organize a prison break. I’m looking for, like, an accomplice”

The Plot: Two lonely people bond in Tokyo.

Where is the romance: You can feel it. You can only feel it.

8. The English Patient (1993) [ IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%]

English_Patient_Poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPKpU14Kqqw

The Best Line: “This… this, the hollow at the base of a woman’s throat, does it have an official name?”

The Plot: A spy and a married woman have a passionate affair.

Where is the romance: In the cave.

7. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (France, 1964) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

umbrellas

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7bhJkQd1T4

The Best Line: “People only die of love in the movies.”

The Plot: The tragedy of lovers separated by war which leads them to take life altering decisions.

Where is the romance: The most practical film on love.

6. Before Sunset (2004) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomaotes: 95%]

before

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

The Best Line: “You can never replace anyone because everyone is made up of such beautiful specific details.”

The Plot: They meet again after  nine years, this time in Paris.

Where is the romance: Everywhere.

5. It Happened One Night (1934) [ IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

it happened

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

The Best Line: “I don’t know very much about him, except that I love him.”

The Plot: The mother and father of every romantic comedy ever made.

Where is the romance: In it and in all the movies made later using the same template.

4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) [ IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

eternal_sunshine_of_the_spotless_mind_movie-207695

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0ywpOFLHMY

The Best Line: “I’ve never felt that before.”

The Plot: A couple undergo a procedure to erase each other from their memories when their relationship turns sour, but it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with. (From IMDB)

Where is the romance: When you know that some things are meant to be.

3. Cinema Paradiso (Italy,1988) [ IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes:96%]

cinema

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2-GX0Tltgw

The Best Line: “Whatever you end up doing, love it.”

The Plot: Love and heartbreak in post war Italy.

Where is the romance: In the music.

2. Brief Encounter (1945) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

BriefEncounterPoster

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

The Best Line: “This misery can’t last… Not even life lasts very long.”

The Plot: They meet by chance, they fall in love and ……

Where is the romance: Too many to mention.

1. Casablanca (1942) [IMDB: 8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

casablanca

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLU41jUnWM4

The Best Line: “We’ll always have Paris.”

The Plot:  Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into his.

Where is the romance: Whenever Ingrid Bergman is on screen.

Week 14

Movies: Non- English

Departures (Japan, 2008) [IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

Layout 1

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtdENmR6jKw

A young unemployed cellist is forced to take up the job of preparing the dead for funerals. What makes the film unique is the distinct cultural landscape of Japan where your job and matters of death are of high importance. The movie is an audience pleaser with moments that will make you smile and reflect. The underlying idea is something I strongly believe in; every job deserves dignity and respect. Come to think of it, I would have watched the movie just because of the title. Death as just departure.

Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (South Korea, 2004) [IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%]

brotherhood

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IY3v9gMehf4

This movie was recommended to me by Rithin, one of the readers of this blog and I would like to thank him for that. This Korean war film tells the story of two brothers caught in the quagmire of the Korean war. The elder one enlists in the army to protect the younger one but as the story progresses fissures appear in their relationship. This is an out and out war film with some sentiments thrown in. The thing about Korean movies is that they are as melodramatic as commercial Hindi films but they also try to tell a story. Some of the war sequences are quite impressive for an Asian film but the same cannot be said of the computer graphics. It becomes evident that some of the scenes are shot on set. That can be pardoned as the budget of the movie is a fraction of what a similar Hollywood film would have demanded. Some of the scenes are flimsy and technical finesse is evidently missing but that is compensated by the scale of the film and the well choreographed action scenes. I would definitely recommend it for fans of war movies.

Hollywood Retrospective

The Piano (1993) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

piano

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_kaUp8NDDU

Jane Campion became the first woman director to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes with this master class which is a romance at its heart but has equal amounts of mystery and adventure thrown in. A married woman has a torrid affair with an odd character which shakes the world around her. Other than the outstanding performance by Holly Hunter in the lead role, watch out for the promising performance  that Anna Paquin delivers as a child. The film is so beautifully shot that viewing it on a small screen would be an injustice.

Full Metal Jacket (1987) [IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

full metal jacket

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAvWQa64B8M

Another Vietnam War classic. The initial training period sequence when one of the nerdy guys snaps is chilling and the effect of that on fellow soldiers might have been more dehumanizing than their experiences later. Still, the film explores how the line between right and wrong blurs when self preservation is the overriding emotion. Stanley Kubrick is a master at crating rough sequences and this could be his most realistic film dealing with real people and raw emotions. I believe that for Kubrick Vietnam was just another setting. His story could have been set in any war and that is what makes this an emotional drama more than a war film.

Apocalypse Now (1979) [IMDB: 8.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 99%]

apocalypse now

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HEiqAsrVMQ

The makers of the film almost got killed making it. Their effort did not go in vain and the end product is perhaps the best movie on the conflict in the Indochine region to be made. Though it is Martin Sheen show all the way, the few scenes where Marlon Brando appears confirms that quality triumphs quantity. It is not an easy watch at 153 minutes but then good things require time. It is a hellish experience in the mould of ‘Das Boot’. At the denouement, the question about who is right and who is wrong is difficult to answer but then the soldier is on a mission and he must complete the task assigned to him. All this, because another soldier forgot which side he was on. Must watch.

Movies I Saw This Week

A late Quartet (2012) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 78%]

a-late-quartet-poster02

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NX66lRnNmqs

One of the better films of 2012. It says the story of a Quartet whose members are at a turning point in their lives. When one of the members is diagnosed with Parkinson’s, strains appear in the relations between other members and hitherto suppressed feelings boil over. The film is quite engaging right from the beginning. The film scores quite high in the acting department. The story has only five characters but the director is able to keep it engaging. The only issue is that if you are not an expert in Western Classical, you will make a fool of yourself in some scenes. I can tell the difference between Mozart and Wagner but I bet there won’t be many who can detect mistakes if some notes of Beethoven are played wrongly. There are a few such scenes and you just have to trust the screenplay on such occasions. It is also an area that has seldom been explored in movies. So you get to know how much hard work goes into the making of a half decent musician. Definitely worth a watch.

Trance (2013) [IMDB:7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 72%]

Trance

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvTW1JecmZo

James McAvoy has been heralded as the next superstar for quite some time now. In ‘Trance’, directed by Danny Boyle, he does his reputation no harm. The film is typical Danny Boyle stuff with scenes of time lapse photography, indulgently shot sequences and pulsating music. Here the protagonist loses his memory after a cooperating in an art heist. So the other gang members come up with the idea of using the services of a hypnotherapist to retrieve his lost memory. The story is sleek and missing any scene may mess up the understanding of what is happening onscreen. As it is, even if you watch all the scenes you will be little confused about some of them. The story is full of unreliable characters. So you can choose whom to trust.

Ghanchakkar (India, 2013) [IMDB: 5.5, Rotten Tomaotes: 25%]

ghanchakkar-poster-large

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClncY3AQxeg

The funny thing with ‘Ghanchakkar’ s that it begins on a premise similar to ‘Trance’ reviewed above. That is, the lead character loses his memory after a heist but the similarity ends there. Whereas in ‘Trance’ they go to a hypnotherapist to retrieve the memory, in ‘Ghanchakkar’ they go to a baba. That sums up the difference in approach between Hollywood and Bollywood.  ‘Ghanchakkar’ is a painfully slow movie but with a rock solid climax. The issue is that you may not have the patience to sit through the movie to see the climax. I believe that the script would have looked good on paper but what is shown on screen is a cure for insomnia. The film is neither funny nor engaging. When a film has Emran Hashmi as the best performer, it says so much about its quality. The characters are annoying and the director deserves much of the flak for making it less interesting than a television serial. I did like the ending but then who cares about the dessert when the main course is stale.

Documentary Pick of the Week

The Corporation (2003) [IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

corporation

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKbpQ_H7ziU

Documentary which charts the growing influence of large companies in a historical perspective. Very educative but a little biased in my opinion. Still, must see.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ because a little fun never killed anyone.

Did you know: Steven Spielberg met Drew Barrymore when she acted in ‘E.T’. When she grew up she posed for Playboy. When Spielberg found out, he sent Barrymore a blanket so she could ‘cover up.’