Week 49

Movies: Non-English

The Skin I Live In (Spain, 2011) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%]

skin I live in

 

Trailer: 

An accomplished plastic surgeon who is obsessed with creating the perfect skin after his wife’s tragic death achieves a breakthrough after more than a decade of persistence. He has a patient in captivity who is a guinea pig for him to try his new accomplishment on. It is the mysterious past of this patient that holds key to the story as it unfolds. Told with the trademark panache of Pedro Almodovar, this film did not get the attention it deserved when it was released. It may be because Almodovar is a director who has made many films on gender issues and this one obliquely pays respect to that. It is also one of his latter films without Penelope Cruz. Such minor details aside, the film is a really good watch with Antonio Banderas showing us that he has it in him to step up to the plate when required, in the acting department.

Subramaniapuram (India, 2008) [IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: Not yet rated)

Subramaniapuram

 

Trailer: 

‘Subramaniapuram’ is a film that brought a zest to movie making in the Tamil film industry. Set in 1980, the film follows the story of five educated unemployed men in the rural heartland of Tamil Nadu (in South India). This is one of my personal favourites. (Spoilers Ahead) What starts as a simple romance slowly turns into a violent tragedy. The film gets its setting and feel right but the tale could have held on its own in any era. The cinematography and music add to the merit of the movie. There are some really good touches. It requires a certain vision to have one of the five men as physically challenged. That explains the whole movie in the opening sequence and in the climax without having to utter a word. A must watch.

Movies I Saw This Week

Philips and the Monkey Pen (India, Malayalam,2013) [IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: Not yet rated]

philips

 

Trailer: 

An absolutely delightful story of a boy who fears his mathematics classes like the plague and who has a streak of trouble making. Congratulations are in for the producers who showed the guts to finance a film with a young kid at the centre of the story. They also made sure that no effort is spared in the making of it, as is evident from the good production quality. A special mention must also be made of the background score which sets the right tempo for the movie. All this fade into the background when compared with the wonderful performances of the kids in the film. Some of the scenes and lines are too hilarious and it is all helped by the fact that the film has a story to tell. Two thumbs up.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2013 [IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 64%]

Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa

 

Trailer: 

This one is about the trip a ‘grandfather’ takes his grandson with him to return the grandson to his father. In other words, it is an excuse for a road trip in which a young man dressed up as a grandpa takes a younger brat with him to play a series of pranks on unsuspecting strangers. At many levels, the film tries to be outrageous and funny but usually is just outrageous. There are a few funny  moments though but they are far and few in between the ones that concentrate on body parts. Recommended for those who can find fun in toilet humour and juvenile jokes.

Shaadi Ke Side Effects (India,2014) [ IMDB: 5.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 36%]

Shaadi Ke Side Effects

 

Trailer: 

It remains a mystery how some movies get sequels in Bollywood when the original itself was a pain to watch. The only good thing about the movie is the title and even talents like Vidya Balan and Farhan Akhtar are wasted in roles that demand nothing of them. A married couple have a kid and then they have difficulty in coping up the upbringing of the kid. You see, they are having a kid for the first time. So they have no prior experience in the matter. Then the merry go around starts when they start imagining problems when there are none. They start lying to each other with the premise that small lies lead to a happy marriage. Some stretch of imagination, I must say. I guess the filmmakers could have just titled the film ‘Baby’ because that in their opinion is the side effect of a marriage.

Highway (India, 2014) [ IMDb: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 70%]

highway

 

Trailer: 

Imtiaz Ali makes nicely packaged movies with zero content like ‘Love Aaj Kal’ and ‘Rockstar’ where the actresses put in shoddy performances in the name of acting. ‘Highway’ is just another addition to the list. A young girl gets kidnapped on the eve of her wedding and then she has a bout of Stockholm syndrome. The movie then becomes an excuse for taking the lead characters around the country on a trip with a very easy ending to boot. Even the music by A R Rahman is tepid. An absolute bore of a movie in which even Randeep Hooda fails to perform.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Indie Game: The Movie (2012) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

Indie Game The Movie

 

Trailer:

A look at the world of independent game developers and the passion they bring to the scene. Insightful.

The : D Retrospective

The Devil Wears Prada (2006) [ IMDb: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 76%]

The Devil Wears Prada

Trailer: 

Anne Hathaway is the wet behind the ears office assistant to Meryl Streep in the adaptation of the novel by the same title reportedly based on true events. The characters are all so well etched out that Meryl Streep could be held liable for torturing kids. Even when playing a character everyone loves to hate, she oozes class and literally makes the film her own. The dialogues are razor sharp and quite often acerbic. If you want a primer on how to torture employees, this one could be of great help and still be entertaining.

Romancing the Stone (1984) [ IMDb: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

Romancing the Stone

 

Trailer: 

A writer goes to Colombia to rescue her kidnapped sister and in the process gets into an adventure she didn’t bargain for. She also meets her love in dashing Michael Douglas. Kathleen Turner though does not make it count. She largely has a wooden performance but this works in her favour as that is what the role demands. That also makes it a case of good casting. Also thrown in are few rides in the forest and a very happy ending. A good watch for a lazy evening.

Fatal Attraction (1987) [ IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 71%]

Fatal Attraction

 

Trailer: 

A box office hit from the glory days of Michael Douglas, ‘Fatal Attraction’ tells the story of an obsessive woman a man wants to avoid to save his marriage. The performances are all top notch and the film has the mood of a thriller which is what separates it from the countless movies based on a similar theme. Even when it is predictable and has an obvious ending, the film keeps you interested with the pacy screenplay and antics of the characters which are at times unpredictable.

Eagerly Waiting for: ‘Noah’ because it a Darron Aronofsky film starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly.

Did you know: The real Frank Abagnale Jr. appears in Catch Me If You Can as the French policeman who arrests Di Caprio.

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Week 16

Movies: Non- English

Nine Queens (Argentina, 2000) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

nine queens

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

Classic con movie. The best thing I like about this one is that the guy who gets conned never gets to know that he has been conned. In the numerous remakes of this movie that I have seen in other languages, they could not resist telling the guy that he has been conned. For such reasons and more, this original version in Spanish is a better attempt. It shows great restraint in its storytelling, slowly building a jigsaw puzzle which fits perfectly at the end. It also metes out justice in the old fashioned way without violence, concurrently taking care of the bad guys. The story is simple: Two guys try to make a quick buck through forgery but then all is not what it seems. Some best laid plans work like the way they were planned.

The Intouchables (France, 2011) [IMDB: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

Intouchables

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34WIbmXkewU

Genuine crowd pleasing movie which tells the story of a bond which develops between a physically challenged man and his caretaker who are from the opposite ends of the social spectrum. Based on a true story, it tells the adventures, camaraderie and insecurities both of them share. The medical condition is not a hindrance for them when they decide to see the world and experience it with full vigor. Similar to ‘The Class’ reviewed last week, it also throws the spotlight on the challenges facing French society. The acting is laudable and the whole mood is encapsulated by the background score which rises to the occasion. Still, it is a light film to watch with some really good scenes. How about being escorted by the police to reach the destination instead of being fined when caught for over speeding?

Hollywood Retrospective

Garden State (2004) [IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

gardenstate_cover_1098316967

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u82n0e1mgmQ

One of the best romantic comedies I have ever seen, this debut feature from Zach Braff was one of the surprise hits of 2004. The writing is sharp and the acting does justice to it. The premise for the story is the return of the protagonist to his hometown to attend his mother’s funeral. The unconventional characters he meets on his return home and how he finds his lady love form the rest of the story. It is told with the freshness of morning dew. There are many remarkable scenes but the one I like the most is the one in the swimming pool when the girl swims towards the guy; it says so much without a word being spoken. If you are a fan of romantic comedies, this is a must watch.

Doctor Zhivago (1965) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%]

doctor_zhivago-289268745-large

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

Epic, in the sense of a cinematic experience, has few parallels like David Lean’s adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s classic ‘Doctor Zhivago’. The story in its essence tells how the lives of ordinary people are changed forever by events of far reaching historical significance. Doctot Zhivago who is a happily married man has his life turned upside down after a chance meeting with one of his patients. What follows is a saga of love and passion with the Russian Revolution in the background. The imagery is breathtaking and the music is one of the best in the history of cinema. It is a pity that neither David Lean for direction nor Omar Sherif for acting won the Academy award but the film did win 5 of them. At the risk of sounding immodest, I must say that if you have not seen this film then you have not seen one of the greatest movies ever made.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) [ IMDB: 8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

Its_A_Wonderful_Life_Movie_Poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJfZaT8ncYk

There are few movies which fit the bill ‘timeless’ and this is one of those. Looking for a film of hope and optimism? This is the one. A man is shown how he brings joy and happiness to the people around him and how life would be for them without him. It is a little strange to see that such progressive films were made in the days of the studio system but with such shackles removed it is impossible to make such a movie now. Moreover, this film could be called socialist by today’s standards in USA. The film is a James Stewart show all the way. Recommended viewing for all types of people from all age groups. After all, it’s a wonderful life.

Movies I Saw This Week

The Best Offer (2013) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

best offer

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJGleGyahC8

This is perhaps the most engaging film to have come out in 2013 and most of the viewers will find it absolutely spell binding but the issue with someone like me is that I have unfortunately watched too many movies to figure out the only possible ending to the movie. Nevertheless, it is one of the best made thrillers of 2013 and looks authentic. Ennio Morricone’s music is testament to the fact that some things get better with age. The story is that of an art auctioneer who is at the top of his game but has issues dealing with women. He meets a young lady who is looking to auction off her collection. What follows is a mix of intrigue and treachery. I cannot say more without revealing the story but the film is definitely worth a watch and has the most costly love making scene of all time. That was a clue to the story. Just watch it.

Only God Forgives (2013) [ IMDB: 6.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 48%]

only god forgives

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reIxnLrtY5g

The film from the director of ‘Drive’ has Ryan Gosling as a drug dealer in Bangkok. It also has a story which is told between scenes of torture. The scenes are so violent and self serving that you will look away from the screen because you will slowly get used to the fact that the next shot will involve blood oozing out of the body. The movie may have been made with the intention of catering to the film festival audience and it is no coincidence that it premiered at Cannes. It is a kill fest with opposite groups trying to find and hunt down people even remotely connected to a crime. I will never be able to enjoy karaoke singing again if I were in Bangkok. The saying goes; Those who live by the sword die by it. Here that is not the case.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (India, 2013) [ IMDB: 8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

Bhaag-Milkha-Bhaag-2013

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nR9JS2WsNg

Milkha Singh is a legend in Indian sports and his story is a one that must be told but not for 3 hours with numerous songs including the mandatory army song. I have never understood why films showing army life in Hindi movies must have a song with the soldiers dancing. Such minor irritants aside, this is a film worth a watch. I so wish that Indian film makers can make inspiring movies and not confuse slow motion with inspiration. Farhan Akhtar has put in a sincere effort but nothing to sing high praises of. As an aside, the 400 m race at the Rome Olympics is considered by many as the greatest ever race in modern Olympic history because the first 4 runners broke the world record in existence before the race. Unfortunately for Milkha, he happened to be the fourth one, missing the medal by a whisker. It is a commentary on the state of Indian athletics that it took almost 40 years for someone to break the record created by Milkha in Rome in 1960. I hope that they make movies on Vishwanathan Anand, P T Usha, Prakash Padukone, Sushil Kumar and others.

Assault on Wall Street (2013) [IMDB: 6.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 47%]

assault

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Y-NqShTj5w

One guy who loses everything in the financial crisis and blames the Wall Street for it takes law (read ‘gun’)  into his hands and tries to settle scores by taking down who he thinks is responsible for his plight. The film tries to channel the anger of the population against big banks and funds in the aftermath of the financial crisis and the bailout programmes. The film is remarkable for its naivety but it also has some biting dialogue especially the one which aims at the big names in American history who made the most amount of money. If you are very angry with the Wall Street this film may help you as it shows one guy taking up guns for you. Otherwise, don’t even bother.

Documentary Pick of the Week 

Bowling for Columbine (2002) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

bowling

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

The only documentary to have ever won the Palme D’or at Cannes, ‘Bowling for Columbine’ is an essential watch for anyone trying to figure out why USA is such a trigger happy nation. Absolute must watch.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Jobs’ because it is the story of Steve Jobs and it could be either very good or very bad.

Did you know: Agatha Christie’s ‘Mousetrap’ has not been made into a movie till now because the movie rights were sold under the condition that the film will be made only after the play stopped performing. It so happens that ‘Mousetrap’ which started as a play in 1952 is still going strong.