The Paper Anniversary Edition

In the last one year this blog has been published regularly every week without fail. When I started out, the idea was to quit after an year.During the last one year, the trying circumstances under which I have published the blog every week only cemented that thought but I won’t be entirely stopping with this edition. This blog will continue to be published but it will no more be a weekly. Thank you for the continued readership.

Movies: Non-English

Time of the Gypsies (Italy-Yugoslavia, 1988) [ IMDB: 8.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%]

Time of the Gypsies

Trailer:

Five time winner at the Cannes, Emir Kusturica is a director whose oeuvre needs no introduction. His movies are remarkable for the fact that they do not try to tell unbelievable or extravagant stories. He likes to focus on ordinary people with interesting lives. He populates such stories with quirky supporting cast and shoots the films at a pace which keeps you interested in the proceedings on screen. This film is another in a glowing list that he has produced and this one takes us to the world of gypsies with their idiosyncrasies and rituals. A young man in a gypsy family blessed with telekinetic powers moves out to the big city where he gets drawn into crime. Peppered with remarkably shot sequences which are authentic, this film is a must watch for the glimpse it gives of normal people who are on the fringes of the society.

Amarcord (Italy,1973) [ IMDB:8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%]

Amar

Trailer: 

Another classic from another master. Fellini looks at the lives of people in an Italian coastal town during the Mussolini years. The magical and saccharine tale is tempered only by the liberal doses of political reality. The number of characters introduced in the film are far too many but they are vital to the story and remain a part of it even when they appear only in a single scene. The cinematography is breathtaking and it is ably assisted by the original music. A must watch bittersweet story with heavy political undertones.

Movies I Saw This Week

Dom Hemingway (2013) [ IMDB:6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 55%]

DomHemingwayPoster

Trailer: 

Twelve years a prisoner, Dom who has been released from the penitentiary goes back to collect what he was promised for his silence during the trial. Once outside the prison, he realizes that the world has since moved on and it may be difficult to get what he believed was legitimately his. He also has an estranged daughter to deal with and has to fix his broken family and his fragile ego. Jude Law goes off the beaten track but the screenplay does not aid his cause. Not a dud but not a classic too.

Better Living Through Chemistry (2014) [ IMDB: 6.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 36%]

Better Living Through Chemistry

Trailer: 

A married and respected pharmacist loses control of his life when he meets a lonely young wife. They hit it off together with the aid of drugs. Coming at a time when a series like ‘Breaking Bad’ has made chemistry far too cool, this one also shows the vast powers that people who have access to the supply of pills can wield to amuse themselves.Unfortunately, the bubble bursts midway and then the film really goes nowhere even when it thinks it is making progress. Similar to the hallucinatory effects of some drugs, the story is a no brainer without anything substantial. I guess some of the guys dreamt up the story when they were high on something.

Diana (2013) [ IMDB: 5.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 8%]

Diana_poster

Trailer: 

Diana was an overrated,over hyped lady who gained sympathy for being the lonely rebel in an irrelevant monarchy. This disaster of a film tries to map the turbulent period in her relationship with the monarchy when it had reached a point of no return. Naomi Watts styles herself on the lady but there is nothing much she can do to improve a plastic lady whose photo op moments were her only contribution to the society. The screenplay is bereft of any value and looks like a string of tabloid gossip strung together to make an awful film. The film is not even able to match the voyeurism which mostly defines the British tabloids. The film never has an emotional connect and it is better to give it a miss unless you are not aware of some tempestuous chapters in the leading lady’s life.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Manufactured Landscapes (2006) [ IMDB:7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%]

Manufactured Landscapes

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie5SJ39LsDg

Photographer Edward Burtynsky travels the world to see the effect of human activities on the environment and the beauty in the ugliness of the large industrial facilities. Thought provoking.

The : D Retrospective

No Way Out (1987) [ IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

No_Way_Out_(1987_film)_poster

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lypNWLvpb0I

The film that catapulted Kevin Costner to stardom is a labyrinthine thriller which slowly tightens the screws as it proceeds. A Naval Officer is drawn into a cover up and an investigation designed to uncover nothing. He must be part of a process investigating the death of his ex-girlfriend when he is quite sure of what might have happened to her. An edge of the seat thriller which has a predictable ending.

The Hurricane (1999) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]

Hurricane

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsmszHWnO3k

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was a renowned African American boxer who was wrongfully accused of murder and imprisoned. The film tells the story of  the people who help him prove his innocence. The film is cliched to some extent but features perhaps the best performance by Denzel Washington. He brings the anguish of the lead character to the screen with much success. He also looks the part as a boxer. A very good watch.

Eagerly Waiting for: ‘Fading Gigolo’ starring Woody Allen.

Did you know: In ‘Saving Private Ryan, all the main actors except Matt Damon were forced to undergo a brutal week long fitness camp for their roles as soldiers. Damon was exempt from it in order to generate genuine resentment towards him and his character.

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Week 10

Movies: Non-English

Let the Right One In (Sweden, 2008) [IMDB: 8.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

Let-The-Right-One-In-Poster-let-the-right-one-in-16068910-600-849

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICp4g9p_rgo

I am not sure whether this is a horror film or a thriller and I am not too bothered by which genre it belongs to because it keeps you on the edge of your seat without you even knowing it. Credited with reviving the left for dead (no pun intended) vampire movie genre, this is a movie which will redefine your cinematic sensibilities. A young boy falls in love with a girl who happens to be a vampire. The girl returns the love by taking care of the people who bully the boy. The boy also helps her with occasional supply of blood which quenches her thirst. An odd love story where you will root for a vampire. Classy. Still not convinced? Watch the swimming pool scene.

Spirited Away (Japan, 2001) [IMDB: 8.6/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

Spirited_Away_movie_poster_by_miemie_chan3

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6az9wGfeSgM

Animation is imagination on the big screen. ‘Spirited Away’ takes you on a journey like no other and shows the world that some of the best work in animation happens outside Hollywood. A girl and her wonderland. That is pretty much what the movie is about but they made it into an animation classic they swept the awards at places like the Berlin International Film Festival, Sundance and ultimately at the Oscars where it beat Ice Age to deservedly land the nod for the Best Animation Picture. Along the way it found fans like James Cameron. To date, it remains one of the best animation movies ever made. There must be some reason when it is the first animation picture I chose to write about in my blog.

Pather Panchali (India, 1955) [IMDB: 8.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

Pather Panchali

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

Legend has it that when the movie was screened for the first time for European audiences, some critics walked out midway through the movie. Nearly 60 years later, the reputation of the movie as a timeless classic has increased with every passing year. With a haunting background score by Pandit Ravishankar, the movie remains a masterful study of people. The mundane life of a peasant family in rural Bengal comes to life  in a motion picture which flows like a river with hardly a moment to pause. It is sad that not many in India have seen the movie in recent times. Essential viewing.

Hollywood Retrospective

Reds (1981) [IMDB: 7.3/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

reds-1981

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjjRDJ039FI

Warren Beatty had staked his reputation and much more on this classic which took a long time to make but when he finally made it, it became the best picture on the communist movement in USA. For a country which sees the devil in the word ‘socialism’, it is also a reminder that there was indeed a communist movement in the country. Spanning a long and critical period in world history, the film takes you to locations around the world along with its protagonist. The story is based on real events. There is a good love story running parallel to the theme and I think the movie has the best performance of Diane Keaton. One of the most poignant scenes I have seen on screen is the climax of the film when Diane Keaton goes to get some water and sees a child. The movie makes you wonder about the glorious possibilities of history.

Unforgiven (1992) [IMDB: 8.3/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

unforgiven

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

The last great Western. Men are called upon to avenge the dishonouring of women. Well, if life were were so simple, we would not have Westerns. Clint Eastwood’s return to greatness is marked by this revenge drama which like most of the movies of Eastwood in the last two decades deals with the idea of justice. When law fails, it is left to the outlaws to make the world a better place. This, like last week’s ‘Road to Perdition’ is my kind of movie. Strong screenplay, great dialogues, nuanced performances and a great story to tell. Clint Eastwood plus Morgan Freeman is the formula for magic on screen. Throw in Gene Hackman and you get some twisted magic. Must see.

Movies I Saw This Week

A better Life (2011) [IMDB: 7.1/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%]

A-Better-Life

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

An illegal immigrant anchors his dreams for his son on owning his own business without getting caught by the law. The performances are really good, especially the one by the lead actor Demian Bichir who leads a life of quite dignity. His restraint in the car park scene is in stark contrast to the reaction of his son. The movie is effective in showing the distressed lives of illegal immigrants in the USA. It is a one time watch. I had this nagging feeling that the movie is an advertisement for Obama administration’s immigration policies. Well you see, the child can stay on.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (India, 2013) [IMDB: 6.6/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 62%]

yeh-jawaani-hai-deewani-8-s

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rbp2XUSeUNE

Since it is produced by Karan Johar, I had very low expectations from the film and for this reason I could sit through it. It does have some good dialogues in the second half. It was not bad as it was expected to be, but it did try hard. For starters, Karan Johar thinks that the nerd girl to cool babe transformation is achievable by replacing spectacles with contact lenses. From Preity Zinta in Kal Ho Naa Ho to Deepika Padukone in this flick, his heroines fervently believe in this formula. In fact, Deepika goes one better. She transforms herself like Kajol in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. To be sure, boys and girls cannot be friends. They have to fall in love too. Oh, I almost forgot. Everything is resolved at destination weddings where the radical girl has an arranged marriage. To complete the cliches, there is the dumb beauty too. Just for the record, Hamdard Rooh Afza is any day better than the Pepsi Ranbir Kapoor endorses. If you have forgotten the Indian movie formula and want to revise it, watch the film.

Morning Glory (2010) [IMDB: 6.4/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 55%]

morning-glory-movie-poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9lWUqraDoU

This movie is also way too predictable. It has some nice touches though. Rachel McAdams is a producer of a television show running on life support. She gets two veterans to come on board as hosts and together they try to make things better while fighting each other. Strictly for weekend viewing when you have nothing much to do.

Passion Play (2010) [IMDB: 4.3/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 17%]

Passion-Play-2010

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cy36HZhspyw

Megan Fox as an angel with wings, waiting to be rescued by Mickey Rourke. What were the writers smoking? Right up there in the list of worst movies to have come out in the last 5 years, the movie has no reason for its existence. For those thinking, what happened to Rourke after ‘The Wrestler’, this movie is a reminder that it is not for nothing that he has a bad boy reputation. Watch at you own risk.

Documentary Pick of the Week

The Invisible War (2012) [IMDB: 7.4/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%]

invisible war

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECOqpv45tIo

The story that was swept under the carpet far too many times finally becomes public. The documentary exposes the lopsided policies of the US Government against women in the military while telling the story of sexual abuse in US armed forces. Hard hitting. Must watch.

Eagerly Waiting For: ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ because Scorsese and DiCaprio together make great movies.

Did you know: ‘Midnight in Paris’ was Woody Allen’s biggest box office success.