Rashomon (Japan, 1950) [ IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%]
A work of genius from Akira Kurosawa, this piece of art remains essential viewing for anyone interested in knowing anything about cinema. The story has many characters recalling the same event and the different interpretations that they give depending on who is narrating. Enough paens have been sung about the movie and any high praise is worth it. Watch it to find out why.
Even the Rain (Spain, Mexico, 2010) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]
A group of people filming a documentary get entangled with the problem of drinking water privatization in the region they are filming. The film is an allegory comparing the neo-liberals to the colonizers in a not so subtle manner. In the process they revive some of the heroes of yore and make a strong political statement. As usual, Gael Garcia Bernal steals the show. Worth a watch.
Driving Miss Daisy (1989) [ IMDB: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 82%]
The story of an African American chauffeur and his Jewish patron. I am not a huge fan of the film and I don’t think it deserves 4 Academy awards but the competition was mediocre. Also, the Academy likes to think that it is at the vanguard of the fight for social justice. It may also be that I may have my own prejudices on the condescending manner in which the film moves. Please watch and disagree with me.
Ordinary People (1980) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%]
The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son (From IMDB). Robert Redford‘s directorial debut won 4 Academy awards including ‘Best Picture’ in an upset. ‘Ordinary People’ is a good film but nowhere close to ‘Raging Bull’ over which it triumphed at the Oscar. The bigger snub was for Martin Scorsese who lost out to Robert Redford in the director category. Only people who like depressing family dramas over classy biopics would have voted for ‘Ordinary People’.
In the Heat of the Night (1967) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]
Sidney Poitier was the first African American to win the Oscar for the ‘Best Actor’. ‘In the Heat of the Night’ is one of his finest performances. He plays a cop trying to solve a murder mystery in a town not particularly well-disposed towards black men. The thrill in the movie is as much a result of the murder investigation as it is due to the racial relations tensions involved. I often feel sad for Sidney Poitier. He is one actor who has been roundly abused on screen for his skin colour on many occasions, even when he comes across as a perfect gentleman.
Movies I Saw This Week
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013) [ IMDB: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]
For once, I agree to the blurb. It is indeed the comedy of the year. A radio jockey who has only one interest and that is self-interest, gets involved in a hostage crisis when one of his disgruntled colleagues takes over the radio station. The movie has some clever writing and many well written lines blend in with the scenes. To add to this, not one character seems to be in a normal mental state. The concoction of a self centred man, a madman and few nutcases makes this film a pleasure to watch. Highly recommended.
2 Guns (2013) [ IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 71%]
Two undercover operatives run into each other and form an unlikely partnership to save themselves from quick death. The film tries too hard to be stylish and forgets that there is only so much that style can do. It is a reminder of what Denzel Washington has become. Mediocre.
Scenic Route (2013) [ IMDB: 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 62%]
The friendship of two friends are tested to the limit and beyond when they are stranded in the middle of nowhere. Could have been much better. Could have been much worse. In the end it settles for the ordinary. The acting is good though.
Documentary Pick of the Week
The Tillman Story (2010) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]
Pat Tillman joins the US Army when he could have easily settled for a cosy life with his million dollar contract as a football player. He gets killed in ‘friendly fire’ and the ever lying Bush administration tries to twist the story to suit its needs. Tillman’s family fights back. They are ignored, then they are ridiculed and then they win.
Eagerly Waiting for: ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ because I will see all the movies in which Tom Hanks appears even for a second.
Did you know: Launched in 2004, the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) is the oldest film festival in the Gulf region. This blog is also being published from Dubai today.