Week 48

The blog was delayed by a day because I was traveling.

Movies: Non-English

Gomorrah (Italy, 2008) [IMDB: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%]

Gomorrah

Trailer: 

This Italian film on the mafia had real life gangsters play roles with ease. After all, they could relate easily to the screenplay which was raw in its power and held back no punches. The film tells the story of crime as a way of life in some of the families in Italy, notorious for clan wars. The movie has been hailed as one of the best to come out on the theme and won over the critics when it was released. Two thumbs up.

Elite Squad (Brazil, 2007) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]

Elite Squad

Trailer: 

Set in the second half of the 1990s, the film looks at the efforts to cleanse Rio De Janeiro of crime before the visit of the Pope to the city of Christ, the Redeemer. Though not very impressive in its execution, the film has too many logical loopholes but is very ambitious for a foreign language film. It has its moments though and fans of the thriller-action genre will find the film quite entertaining. Hence, it is recommended to only that sub category of viewers.

Movies I Saw This Week

Queen (India, 2014) [ IMDB:9.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

Queen

Trailer: 

By far the best mainstream Hindi film to have come out in 2014, ‘Queen’ is a Kangana Ranaut show all the way. She is practically present in every shot of the movie as the naive Rani who is ditched by her fiance on the eve of the wedding. (Spoilers ahead) She decides to get over the situation by going on the honeymoon she was supposed to have. It is through this journey that she discovers the world and in the process, herself. What could have become a cliched attempt finds its way through nice twists and some memorable performances from the supporting cast. Still, they all pale in comparison to the pitch perfect performance by the leading lady who comes up with the right expressions and carries the film on her shoulders. I would like to raise a toast to an entertaining film that is a small diversion from the cliche that Bollywood has become.

 

Adult World (2013) [ IMDB: 6.2, Rotten Tomatoes; 50%]

adult-world-image

Trailer: 

Mostly inept and highly predictable, this film is again on the coming off age theme. A young girl whose graduation is not good enough to make her employable and who has notions of rebellion at the family life she is forced to live, takes up a job in an adult store. She also meets her literary idol (played unconvincingly by the otherwise reliable John Cusack) and tries to force her way into his life. The film meanders along and by the half way stage the viewer would be hard pressed to maintain interest.

Homefront (2013) [ IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 63%]

Homefront

Trailer:

Toughie living the life in exile is the theme of this average flick. As with numerous other movies that have dealt with the theme, the smooth on the exterior guy is forced to reveal his fangs when his family is challenged by external forces. Nothing much to write about happens as the film takes a predictable turn. I must say that the shots of the Louisiana landscape were quite beautiful to watch.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2004) [ IMDB: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]

Roman Polanski Wanted and Desired

Trailer:

Roman Polanski revealed like never before. Two thumbs up.

The : D Retrospective

Mona Lisa Smile (2003) [ IMDB: 6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 61%]

Monalisa Smile

Trailer: 

When Julia Roberts prods you on to rebel against the society, even the most conservative women are made to take notice and act on it. Julia Roberts is an arts professor in this feel good movie set in the 1950s. A very feel good movie.

A Walk on the Moon (1999) [ IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 7.2]

A Walk on the Moon

Trailer: 

A bored middle aged housewife leads an affair with a journeyman, throwing all caution away. The times are very exciting; with man landing on the moon. The same lady also has a teenage daughter to whom she wants to be a guide. In this cautionary tale, it is Diane Lane who leads the show. Beautifully shot without the in your face cinematography, the film has some exciting tracks to add to the general feel of the movie. Though the film is not very well known, it is one of the above average flicks that need your attention.

The Good Girl  (2002) [ IMDB: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 81%]

The Good Girl

Trailer: 

Jennifer Aniston has an affair but the problem is that no one expects her to have one. She has a loving husband and a normal life but she decides to add some excitement to the proceedings. Watch it for her because she can also play serious characters.

Eagerly Waiting for:‘Transcendence’ because of Johnny Depp

Did you know: Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was the first film to ever show a toilet flush.

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Week 21

Movies: Non-English

Divided We Fall ( Czech Republic, 2000) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

divided we fall

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAYjBHUIS7A

This acclaimed film is set in erstwhile Czechoslovakia during the Second World War. It deals with the issue of persecution of Jews under the Nazis, a theme done to death by Hollywood to the extent that you lose sympathy for the Jews. This film though, raises moral questions with shades of grey. The major actors on screen can be counted in one hand. There is nothing remarkable in the way the story is told but it has its twists and turns mostly because some of the steps taken by the actors cannot be anticipated in a normal moral framework. Extraordinary situations lead to extraordinary solutions.

The Thief (Russia, 1997) [IMDB; 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

Thief_FilmPoster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs7FGGvRQYU

Deception is the main theme in this Russian drama set during the rule of Stalin. A single mother and her son are drawn towards a soldier who is their only hope for escape from poverty. Things do not exactly turn out the way they are planned. It is a pleasure to watch this wonderfully shot movie but the emotion it deals with is the polar opposite of pleasure. The story is told through the eyes of a child. Circumstances force him to be on the wrong side of the law. It is difficult to forget his reaction when he sees his stepfather in the climax of the movie. Recommended.

English Retrospective

Terms of Endearment (1983) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]

terms of endearment

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsdDeh0M_nk

Winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actress (for Shirey Maclaine), this movie tells the story of the relationship between a mother and daughter who love each other more than they themselves know. It is not an exceptional movie but the performances make it worth a watch. Debra Winger won many fans with her fine performance but it was Shirley Maclaine who upstaged her at the Oscars. The movie tends to be too sentimental towards the end but I can tell you that some of the scenes are really worth all those sentiments. The bedside scene with the kids towards the end will melt the hearts of even the emotion resistant folks. To add to all this, there is Jack Nicholson playing  a former astronaut.

An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) [ IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 81%]

an officer

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1Ehz_cAMGc

There are some movies with an endearing quality about them. This is one such film which works because of the thoughtful writing and the onscreen chemistry between Richard Gere and Debra Winger. A young man in the armed forces has his own demons to fight and personal battles to win. A factory girl enters his life. The story is how the relationship goes through testing times. It is a coming off age movie in the true sense. Richard Gere plays his most vulnerable character on screen but for me the star of the show is Debra Winger whose acting matches her beauty. A really good afternoon watch.

Chariots of Fire (1981) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%]

chariots of fire

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWle59ZHPIM

If there is a movie which seals an Oscar for Best Music with the first few scenes, this is the one. The initial scene with the runners on the beach is one of the sensational sequences in cinema and all that is aided by the score by Vangelis. The story is about the British athletic team at the 1924 Olympics. It is no coincidence that the same theme music was played at all the medal presentation ceremonies at 2012 London Olympics. As for the movie, it loses steam midway but it is a joy to watch some of the sequences. If you are not British you may not enjoy it that much towards the end and I am not British.

Movies I Saw This Week

We’re the Millers (2013) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 77%]

We're-The-Millers-Poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Vsy5KzsieQ

The summer blockbuster of 2013 is a crude comedy  which is also testament to the fact that Jennifer Aniston is a bankable star who can still make people laugh. Frankly, the humour does get little out of control at times but there are some genuine laugh out loud moments. The one when Sudeikis goes to get a hair cut is one such scene. The story involves an out of luck drug dealer trying to put together a family from assorted characters so as to make his drug deal look more realistic. Only Aniston ( and maybe Sandra Bullock) can pull off scenes like the family prayer on the aircraft. A guilty pleasure.

The Bling Ring (2013) [ IMDB: 6.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 60%]

BlingRingPB_CoverFINAL

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4LzhgExvrc

Sofia Coppola drew attention with the understated gem ‘Lost in Translation’ but she suddenly fell from grace with a dud called ‘Marie Antoinette’. Then came ‘Somewhere’ in 2010 and she won a few awards for that. ‘Bling Ring’ is comparable to the quality of ‘Somewhere’ where she seems to be doing a decent job as a director but she never touches the highs she was able to achieve with ‘Lost in Translation’ . The film is inspired by real life events where celebrity obsessed teenagers broke into the houses of celebrities to steal high end branded merchandise. There is nothing that raises the movie from an average flick. The scenes get repetitive in the middle. Only Sofia Coppola knows the secret behind her fetish for stupid songs in the background. May interest the viewer who is interested in celebrities. Otherwise, who gives two hoots about what happens to Paris Hilton?

Satyagraha (India, 2013) [ IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 35%]

SATYAGRAHA1

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KXwGcZI13k

There is no sting in this tale. It is basically a screenplay stitched together by recent events in India. The problem with that is that the issue has received so much media exposure that there is hardly anything new to be said. Prakash Jha repeats the folly he made with ‘Arakshan’. Issues which look good in television debates don’t translate automatically into good cinema. In fact, it often makes for caricatures and plastic characters who don’t connect with the audiences. A poor attempt.

Grown Ups 2 (2013) [ IMDB: 5.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 7% by critics]

grown ups 2

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

I guess the first edition of this series made lot of money for the studios. There is no other reason why they would have gone for the sequel. I could not sit through the first edition and the sequel is a pain to watch. It is not funny, not even by the pathetic standards set by current Adam Sandler movies. Keep away.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Hot coffee (2011) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

hot coffee

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBKRjxeQnT4

An 81 year old lady wins 2.9 million USD in damages from McDonald’s after their coffee burns her body. This sets in motion a series of events culminating in major restrictions being passed on the rights of citizens in USA to sue companies. You don’t need to vote in elections because some corporations can buy the election for themselves. A thought provoking documentary.

Eagerly Waiting for: ‘Gravity’ because George Clooney and Sandra Bullock team up.

Did you know: Madonna changed costume 85 times for the film ‘Evita’.