Edition 67

The Non-English Movie of The Week

Corn Island (Georgia, 2014) [IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: Not yet rated, My Rating: 7.5]

Corn Island (2014)

Trailer:

For the first time we have a Georgian film in this blog and from what I have seen, I would love to have a look at many more movies from Georgia. ‘Corn Island’ tells the story of a man and his granddaughter who have to farm for survival. The entry of new characters- some unexpected and some uninvited- makes the story unpredictable. The high point of the movie is the cinematography and the breathtaking scenery that aids the ambiance. Some of the shots and terrain reminded me of ‘Mud (2012)’. Though the movie has a rather tedious pace, the images on screen do not make an eyesore. Overall, this one is recommended to all those who like to try something new.

Movies I Saw This Week

The Gift (2015) [ IMDB:7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, My Rating: 6/10]

Gift-Movie-Poster-Robyn

Trailer: 

Full disclosure: I slept for 15 minutes during the movie. The good part ( or from a neutral perspective, the bad part) is that I did not miss anything. This movie is a good one time watch but leaves you with the feeling that a good one hour drama was stretched to be made into a watchable movie. For a seasoned viewer, it is very easy to predict the climax of the movie which has a good performance from Rebecca Hall. Interestingly, the director-writer of the movie has also taken the role of being the provider of ‘gifts’ in the movie. The fact that he has a one note performance could be attributed to this. ‘The Gift’ is the kind of movie that you will have difficulty remembering after a few years. If at all the movie retains a place in your memory, it would be due to the dialogues in the climax scene.

Chappie (2015) [IMDB:7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 31%, My Rating: 4.5]

Chappie Poster

Trailer:

This Dev Patel movie is a reminder that voting in IMDB does not reflect the true merit of a movie when it comes to sci-fi flicks. The robot with emotions is a concept that Hollywood has tried multiple times; some successful like ‘Wall-E’ and some disasters like ‘Bicentennial Man’. ‘Chappie’ tries too hard to sound authentic but is let down more by human actors who fail to match even the robot when it comes to emotions. Avoid this one and hope that the next robot movie will have better things to do and better co actors.

Madame Bovary (2015) [IMDB: 6.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 43%, My Rating: 5.5]

madame_bovary

Trailer:

This movie is the latest interpretation of the classic novel and the main reason why I was interested in watching this one was the decent quality of the trailer. Some expensive movies which have been beautifully shot are a joy to watch (try ‘To The Wonder’) even when they have rather mediocre story lines. As it turns out, the producers seem to have handpicked the scenes that were put in the trailer because the movie does not deliver on any front. The performances are uninspired and the screenplay is insipid. In the final analysis it is a sheer waste of time and money: my time and the producer’s money.

Danny Collins (2015) [IMDB:7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 80%, My Rating: 7.5]

danny_collins

Trailer:

There are some people who can continue to light up the screen after decades of solid performances. Al Pacino is one such thespian. Here he plays a down and out singer who lives on past glories. A letter from his past changes his life forever. Based on a true story, ‘Danny Collins’ tells a very enjoyable ( who cares if it is predictable) tale of a man on self discovery at a ripe old age. That also makes this movie Al Pacino’s best performance in over a decade. Definitely worth a watch.

 

Phantom (Hindi, 2015) [IMDB: 5.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 41%, My Rating: 5.5/10]

phantom

Trailer: 

As the movie’s tagline says, after watching ‘Phantom’ I wished that it was true. In fact, the confidence with which the movie was unfolding made me feel that it was indeed based on true events. I even googled to find out whether the terrorist David Headley was dead. When truth struck and I was back to my senses, I realized that ‘Phantom’ was a fanciful work of imagination which does not stop at stretching the limits of imagination but also bends and breaks it. At the same time it is a decent thriller to watch, if you can forget the fact that you read newspapers. The things going for the movie are the racy pace and the limited screen time for Katrina Kaif. The things against the movie are your functioning brain and Saif Ali Khan. After all this, still a decent one time watch,

While We’re Young (2014) [IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 845, My Rating: 7.0]

WhileWereYoung-poster1

Trailer:

Ben Stiller has been trying too hard to get out of the comedian tag for the last few years. Perhaps he does not realize that his acting talents are very limited and he looks best in movies like ‘Tropic Thunder’ and ‘Zoolander’. Here, Stiller plays husband to Naomi Watts (who is in her comfort zone in the role). Their lives and thoughts are deeply affected by the entry of a young couple into their lives. The phenomenon of mid-life crisis gets another look in this movie. The movie is ultimately rewarding for those who have the patience to sit through some of the plainly boring sequences.

Kunjiramayanam (Malayalam, 2015) [IMDB: 6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: Not yet rated, My Rating:6.0]

Kunjiramayanam Posters-Stills-Images-Malayalam Movie-Vineeth Sreenivasan-Dhyan Sreenivasan-Basil Joseph-Onlookers Media

Trailer: 

This debut feature film by Basil Joseph tells the story of events that happen in a small village in Kerala. An entertaining study of the lives and culture in a picturesque village in Central Kerala is told in an interesting way. The grip of the director on the subject is evident and it is truly a feast for the eyes to have rich visuals in the background. It is not for nothing that they call Kerala ‘God’s Own Country’.

Documentary of the Week

South of the Border (2009) [IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 69%, My Rating: 7.0]

South of the Border (2009)

Trailer:

A one sided take on the governments in South America. An introduction to the politics in Latin America.

Eagerly waiting for:Crimson Peak‘ directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Jessica Chastain.

Did you know: ‘Skyfall’ is the first Bond flick directed by an Oscar winning director.

 

 

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Edition 65

The Non-English Movie of The Week

Timbuktu (Mauritania,2014) [IMDB:7.3, Rotten Tomatoes:99%, My Rating: 7.5]

Timbuktu_poster

Trailer:

Once upon a time Timbuktu was synonymous with the last outpost of Western Civilization.  This town in North Mali at the edge of the Sahara desert was also a cultural centre of Islam. ‘Timbuktu’ the movie, does justice to the mysterious and tantalizing town while capturing the wild beauty of the nomadic life in the interiors of Africa. The movie won at Cannes and had a formidable run at the film festivals culminating in an Oscar nomination. The story is that of a cattle herder and his family whose traditional way of life is interrupted when the town is taken over by conservative Islamic terrorists. What ensues is a series of curbs on the life of the people, with football and music among the things banned. Mesmerizingly shot scenes only add to the authenticity of the film with a group of amateurs turning in performances they can be proud of. Though some of the scenes like the imaginary football one did not work for me, the movie is a definite winner for its ability to portray a polarizing subject dispassionately.

Movies I Saw This Week

Dear White People (2014) [ IMDB: 6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, My Rating:6.5]

Dear White People

Trailer:

At a time when USA is in the throes of major racial tensions, this film throws light on the lives of African-American students in an Ivy League university. It is a movie which focuses on the relationships and changing dynamics among the students with a dose of racial issues adding to the mix. The movie has good production values and for once there is a role reversal with the minority students playing the role of the erudite people and the whites being the troublemakers. Though the movie does flag towards the end, it is a one time watch.

Paddington (2014) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, My Rating: 7.5]

paddington_bear

Trailer:

A bear from Peru lands up in UK and gets a place to stay with a kind family. Soon enough, a villain turns up and the rest of the story is about how good triumphs evil. The movie is told at a decent pace and keeps the viewer engaged. With dialogues which have an element of humour in them, the movie is quite an easy watch and certainly one of the good ones of 2014.

Jigarthanda (India, 2014) [IMDB: 8.6, Rotten Tomatoes: Not Rated, My Rating:7.5]

Jigarthanda

Trailer:

Billed by the producers as a “gangster-musical”, this Tamil film scooped a few National Awards including one for the antagonist played by Simhaa. In fact, he is the show stopper with his carefully nuanced performance becoming the highlight of a movie with a convoluted plot. A contestant in a TV show bags a project to direct a movie but the catch is that he must make a movie about a gangster. In his steadfastness, he starts to tail a real life gangster, only to be caught by the gangster. From there the movie takes myriad twists and turns before finishing in an anti-climax. Highly recommended.

Starred Up (2014) [IMDB: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 99%, My Rating:7.5]

starred-up-movie-poster-jack

Trailer:

An instant cult classic for movies with prison as a background, ‘Starred Up’ starts on a high and vaguely resembles the French classic ‘A Prophet’ (2009). But then the movie gets into unchartered territory with a bit of family drama complicating an already tough tale. With a career defining performance from Jack O’Connell, the film is a gripping story about a standoff between a teenage prisoner and the establishment. Highly recommended.

Get Hard (2015) [IMDB:6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 56%, My Rating: 5/10]

Get Hard

Trailer:

Will Ferrell plays a hotshot Harvard Business School Graduate (yes, you read that right) who makes money for fun on the stock market. Kevin Hart plays a car washer who nurses dreams of making his business bigger. Destiny brings them together. The movie does have some funny scenes but it is laborious in the second half and becomes boring as it keeps on moving away from its story brief.

You’re Not You (2014) [IMDB: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 66%, My Rating:6.5]

youre_not_you

Trailer:

This critically panned movie has received a much more favourable response from the viewers. It tells the story of a pianist who is diagnosed with ALS. As she disintegrates, she comes in contact with new people in her life. A tearjerker for those who are interested in crying, the movie does not have anything extraordinary to say. Even Hillary Swank who has an author backed role dwarfs in comparison with performances of people who share the screen with her.

Mr. X (India, 2015) [IMDB: 4.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 33%, My Rating: 2.5/10]

mr-x-poster-embed

Trailer:

I believe that Vikram Bhatt gets to direct movies because his family produces and acts in them. Emraan Hashmi’s new flop has him gaining the power to become invisible. That helps Tanmay Bhatt of AIB to fill the screen. The lead actress in the movie has nothing to do. The producers could have done with just the lips of the lady as that is the only part of the actress called into action. Maybe, she could also have gained some power to disappear from the movie. The movie has low production values and is evidently directed by someone from another era. What more do you expect from a director whose last five movies were ‘Creature’, ‘Raaz 3’, ‘Dangerous Ishq’, ‘Haunted’ and ‘Shaapit’ ? Thankfully, the audiences also gained the power to become invisible from the movie halls.

Documentary of the Week

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015) [IMDB;8.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, My Rating:8.5]

Going_Clear_Poster

Trailer:

A look into the origin, growth and stupidity of the cult of Scientology. Must watch.

Eagerly waiting for: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared‘  because titles don’t get more interesting than this.

Did you know: In the movie ‘Shrek’, the right hand page of the book at the end of the film says ‘The End’. The left hand page says ‘And they lived ugly ever after. ‘

Edition 56

The Non-English Movie of The Week

Goodbye First Love (France, 2011) [ IMDB: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 80%, My rating: 6/10]

Goodbye First Love

This film which had a good run at the festival circuits, is an intimate observation of adolescence and the youthful passion associated with being in love for the first time. Camille and Sullivan fall in love as if they were made for each other. Then Sullivan decides to go on a trip, only to return after eight years. Camille meanwhile has been through an emotionally turbulent period. Will their once indestructible and fervent love stand the test of time? The film is an exploration of how maturity brings change in the thoughts and actions of people. Beautifully shot and competently acted, this film is not a classic by any stretch of imagination but is certainly worth a look.

Movies I Saw This Week

Boyhood (2014)  [ IMDB: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 99%, My rating: 9/10]

Boyhood

Trailer:

A first in the history of cinema, this movie delves into the life of Mason at the age of 5 and follows him till age 18. That would be a normal thing in film making but the filmmakers do the incredible by shooting with the same boy over a course of 12 years. Ellar Coltrane who plays Mason quite literally grows as the movie progresses. Richard Linklater, best known for the ‘Before sunrise/sunset/midnight’ series of movies also ropes in actors who stay committed to the project over such a long course of time. The movie is a coming off age tale and at the risk of sounding overenthusiastic, I can say that there was and never will be such a story. The best part is that the there is a seamlessness about the acting. It feels as if a real life is unfolding in front of you. Kudos to the producers for staying invested in the movie for such a long period. The risks were too many. Certainly one of the best movies of the year and a piece of cinema history to boot.

The Theory of Everything (2014) [IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes:84% My rating: 7/10]

Theory_of_Everything

Trailer:

Based on the memoirs of Stephen Hawking’s first wife, the film tells the renowned physicist’s battle with life as he ascends into the pantheon of intellectual greats. At its heart, it is a personal story in which the science part comes into play intermittently. The standout feature is the dramatic performance from Eddie Redmayne who plays Stephen Hawking. Critics have already started comparisons with Daniel Day Lewis’s performance in ‘My Left Foot’, some even calling it as ‘My Left Brain’. All this augurs well for Redmayne who can count an Oscar nomination as a given. The film though is mostly told from the viewpoint of Jane, his wife and at times feels like a long explanation for her leaving Mr. Hawking. Quite obviously, she did not sign up to be his partner for life and would have been driven by emotional considerations when she thought of providing solace to a young man staring at imminent death. The film only scratches the surface when it comes to the science and is clearly targeted at the masses. To its credit, it must be said that the film is shot well and is successful in capturing the persona of the genius and the times he lived in.

Predestination (2014) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 82%, My Rating: 6.5/10]

Predestination (2014)

Trailer:

Adding to the never ending list of time travel movies, ‘Predestination’ is a new variant in this sub category. On his last mission, a special agent wants to save the world from a violent person . He goes back in time a few times to achieve his task. If only life was that simple or shall we say, only that complex. Frankly, it took me some time to figure out what the scenarists were trying to say and once you get the gist of it, it becomes more or less a film on bending the rules of biology to fight crime. How about the daughter, mother and father being the same person? Will an agent choose self preservation over saving other’s lives? If you like movies which have a lot of knots (some of them beautiful to look at) and want to attempt untying them, this is the movie for you.

The Babadook (2014) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, My Rating: 7.5/10]

babadook

Trailer: 

An out and out horror movie which is one of the better ones I have seen in a long time. Unlike some of the pseudo horror movies in recent times, ‘Babadook’ does have some really edge of the seat stuff. A mother still recovering from the tragic death of her husband has a troublesome kid to deal with. Already in a depressed state, her life hurtles towards complete annihilation when a devious cartoon character enters her life. All hell breaks loose and then it is a fight to death as she and her son turn enemies and allies in the fight against evil. Often relying on the standard stunts of horror movies, it is the treatment and the sheer force of what is on screen that makes the movie stand apart. If you like horror, this one is for you.

Magic in the Moonlight (2014) [IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 53%, My Rating: 6/10]

Magic in the Moonlight

Trailer:

Coming from the master Woody Allen, this film relies on magic and conjuring to tell its story. Unlike many of his previous screenplays, the magic is sorely lacking on screen. A world renowned illusionist is summoned by a friend to help solve the mystery of a lady who can make fancy statements about a person’s past with an all knowing look. Devoid of much logic and giving the feel of a theatre piece, the film lacks the wit that once used to be a hallmark of Woody Allen. The film also has shades on his earlier work ‘The Curse of Jade Scorpion’ and is similar in the quality too. The only plus in this half hearted attempt is the scenic beauty of the French terrain.

Happy Ending (India, 2014) [IMDB: 5.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 29%, My Rating:1/10]

Happy-Ending

Trailer:

Saif Ali Khan continues his wonderful run of films with this one. Continuing on his contribution to cinema in the last two years in the form of ‘Humshakals’, ‘Race 2′, Bullett Raja’, ‘Agent Vinod’ et al, this one is a film for which he will have a lot of explaining to do when he meets his maker. An author who is a one book wonder has a writer’s block and hasn’t published a book in a very long time. He is roped in to write the screenplay (why? god knows) for a superstar’s new film which aims to capture the hearts of all sections of the audience. I fervently wished that this track involving Govinda would bloom and prosper because that was the only hope of redemption in a movie which otherwise has no idea what it is doing. It seems that the following day’s script for shooting was written on the night of the previous day. I genuinely wish that the script writer’s should have stuck to the advice the character of Govinda gives in the movie. It would have been less painful if they just took DVDs of Hollywood movies and mixed them up. That concoction would be palatable and not as deadly as this ‘original’ work.

Ungli (India,2014) [IMDB: 6.0, Rotten tomatoes: Not yet rated, My Rating: 3/10]

Ungli-2014

Trailer:

Coming from the director of the severely flawed ‘Kurbaan’ who also penned the screenplay for ‘Rang De Basanti’, ‘Ungli’ literally shows the finger (ungli) to the audience. After making a mess with Kurbaan, the director hopes that his tried and tested formula of vigilante justice will see him through. What comes out is a series of fantastical ideas and leave-your-brain-at-home events. The good cop-bad cop routine is also played out in the most stereotypical way possible. The movie is essentially a call to arms and tries to be a voice against the injustice that some of the cast members are subjected to. As for the acting, the only one doing any justice to his role is Randeep Hooda. Sanjay Dutt who also had the time and opportunity to study the behavior of cops in real life, also tries his two bits.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Helvetica (2007) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, My rating: 7.5]

Helvetica

Trailer:

The story of ‘Helvetica’ font and the tremendous influence it has had. Also, a study of the art and craft of graphic design. Interesting for the interested.

Eagerly Waiting for: ‘Spectre’ because 007.

Did you know: The alien language used in ‘District 9’ was created by rubbing pumpkins.