Week 33

Movies: Non-English

Iron Monkey ( Hong Kong, 1993) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

iron monkey

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7LgixNDtQo

Just as there is ‘Pulp Fiction’ in ‘Fiction’, there is ‘Pulp Action’ in ‘Action’ and the Chinese are quite good at it. Here, the ‘Pulp’ refers not just to the crass commercial aspect of the movie but also the fact that some guys are beaten to pulp in mindless action. Still, a little bit of fun never killed anyone. ‘Iron Monkey’ for me, is the pinnacle of such movie making. With spectacularly choreographed sequences, nail-biting action and awe inspiring set pieces, this is a film that one should not miss. Even after two decades this film remains quite a show. In case you are interested in the plot, a doctor puts on a mask and fights corruption. The plot is just incidental. Enjoy.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (China, 2000) [IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

crouching

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEaGsdiA0y0

There is scale. Then there is ambition. When these two combine, you get ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’. At times it gets grandiose but who does not like to suspend disbelief once in a while? Watch warriors walk on water, fight atop bamboos, flash swords without a care in the world in a monumental film of epic proportions which will leave you asking for more. The major advantage of this movie over ‘Iron Monkey’ is that it has top class actors and a solid story to tell. Above all, it has Ang Lee at the helm. It is a reminder of how versatile a director he is. It is the mark of a genius to have done films as varied as ‘Sense and Sensibility’, ‘Hulk’, ‘Brokeback Mountain’, ‘Lust , Caution’ and ‘Life of Pi’.

English Retrospective

The Changeling (1980) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 81%]

Changeling_ver1

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

A man recovering from a terrible family tragedy moves into a large house. It takes him time to realize that he has company he never wanted. ‘The Changeling’ has some of the best horror scenes I have ever seen. It gives an eerie feeling similar to ‘The Shining’. The film is a George C Scott show all the way with the thespian being present in almost every frame. The ending is a bit convenient but then the ride compensates for the destination.

Slap Shot (1977) [ IMDb: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

slap shot

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUuEWI6F3dQ

An Ice Hockey team down in the dumps and facing closure finds an ingenious way of roaring back to winning ways. This film is not about Ice Hockey. In fact, at times it feels like a movie on boxing. I don’t know whether Ice Hockey was played like the way it is depicted in the movie. If so, it has come a long way. The movie is a farce and the good part is that it does not matter. The end scene lends some gravitas to an otherwise out and out entertainer.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) [ IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

to kill a

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KR7loA_oziY

There have been few heroes in the world of fiction like lawyer Atticus Finch. Gregory Peck is Atticus Finch is this classic film adaptation of the classic book by Harper Lee. The protagonist defends an African American in the South against false charge of rape and in the process teaches his kids to stand up against prejudice and racism. Gregory Peck gives the performance of a lifetime. Must see.

Movies I Saw This Week

Still Mine (2013) [ IMDb: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

still mine

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mv_Rl0CBPNs

One of the best films of the year. Highly recommended. An old couple, still strongly in love after 6 decades of marriage decide to build a new house. They run into the establishment in the process and also tackle the memory loss of the wife as they go along. Excellent writing and some memorable performances make it a film that deserves your full attention. If I had a vote at the Oscars I would have given this film a few of the statuettes.

How I Live Now (2013) [ IMDB:6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 66%]

how i live

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSaxm68PPT4

Apparently the book on which the movie is based was a bestseller. Either the movie does not do justice to the book or the author got lucky. An American girl in England has to stay put with her love as the world is facing a nuclear meltdown, in this movie set in a not too distant future. It really requires an effort to remain interested in this film after ten minutes. None of the characters are likeable. I wouldn’t have really bothered if the protagonist disappeared midway through the film.

The Croods (2013) [ IMDB:7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%]

the croods

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fVCKy69zUY

I am mighty disappointed with animation movies nowadays because they have started to look the same. ‘The Croods’ is no exception and relies on the same tired gags and subplots. Hope that they rediscover the spark in those animation studios. As for this one, the kids may like it to some extent. Otherwise, off the mark.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Chasing Ice (2012) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

chasing-ice

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIZTMVNBjc4

This documentary should be viewed on the big screen. To call the images stunning would be a gross understatement. You almost forget that you are watching a documentary on global warming. Ice never looked so cool.

Eagerly Waiting for: ‘Out of The Furnace’ because it has a red hot cast in Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck and Zoe Saldana.

Did you know: Full length feature films (except foreign language films) should run with paid admission for at least 7 days in Los Angeles to be considered for the Oscars.

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Silver Week Edition

We are reaching a numerical milestone of 25 continuous weeks of publication. I would like to thank each and every one from the 49 countries across 6 continents who found something interesting to read here. This edition is a celebration of love and features 25 of the most romantic movies I have ever seen.

25. The Yellow Handkerchief (Japan, 1977) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%]

Yellow Handkerchief Shiawase no kiiroi hankachi DVD Review

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAOl7Ii-TKI

The Best Line: Too many to mention. Not really. I don’t know Japanese.

The Plot: Three unrelated people take a road trip, one of them an ex convict who is on his way to meet his wife for the first time after his release from the prison.

Where is the romance: Some endings are truly sensational. This is one such ending.

24. Roman Holiday (1953) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

roman holiday

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIFo0txAvuE

The Best Line: “Tell you what. Why don’t we do all those things, together?”

The Plot: A princess enjoys her day in anonymity with an American newsman and falls for him.

Where is the romance: Everywhere, except in the end.

23. Atonement (2007) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

atonement

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWPZDi723Eo

The Best Line: “Had they let me, every day, I would have been there every day.”

The Plot: A young girl changes the love story of her sister.

Where is the romance: In the book in the movie.

22. An Affair to Remember (1957) [ IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]

affair to

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

The Best Line: “There must be something between us, even if it’s only an ocean.”

The Plot: A playboy meets the love of his life on a ship. They decide to meet six months later at the Empire State building.

Where is the romance: When you want Cary Grant to know what you know, in the last scene of the film.

21. Titanic (1997) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

titanic

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCy5WQ9S4c0

The Best Line: “Where to, Miss?” “To the stars!”

The Plot: An aristocrat lady falls in love with a poor artist on the doomed maiden voyage of the Titanic.

Where is the romance: In the tragedy.

20. When Harry Met Sally (1989) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

when haary

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8DgDmUHVto

The Best Line: “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

The Plot: Harry and Sally have been friends for a long time. It takes time for them to realize that they were meant to be together.

Where is the romance: For such an out and out sugary romance, the most memorable scene is the one in the restaurant.

19. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (India, 1995) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes 94%]

ddlj

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U9SpwJ9TCs

The Best Line: ” Iss ladke se zyaada pyar tujhe koi aur nahi kar sakta” (No one can love you more than this boy).

The Plot: After Raj met Simran, love was never the same.

Where is the romance: Mustard fields got the biggest makeover in terms of reputation. After Raj met Simran, mustard fields were never the same.

18.  The Apartment (1960) [ IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

apartment

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4OXm9-E8OQ

The Best Line: “That’s the way it crumbles.. cookie-wise.”

The Plot: The girl of his dreams is seeing his married boss.

Where is the romance: It is about finding true love and the triumph of the underdog.

17. Gone With the Wind (1939) [ IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

gone with the

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mM8iNarcRc

The Best Line: “You should be kissed and often; and by someone who knows how.”

The Plot: A woman loves someone so blindly that she is not able to see the man who loves her the most.

Where is the romance: In the roughness.

16. Doctor Zhivago (1965) [IMDB: 7.9, IMDB: 85%]

doctor_zhivago-289268745-large

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

The Best Line: “There’s an extraordinary girl at this party.” “I know. I’m dancing with her.”

The Plot: Doctor Zhivago is in love with two women and in the background is the Russian Revolution.

Where is the romance: All the scenes at railway stations, especially the last one.

15.  Annie Hall (1977) [IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

annie hall

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBzHphcc2Jw

The Best Line: “That is the most fun I’ve ever had without laughing.”

The Plot: The compelling romance of a comedian and a singer.

Where is the romance: Love fades but the idea of love is intact.

14. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

Slumdog-Millionaire-2008

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIzbwV7on6Q

The Best Line: “I knew you’d be watching.”

The Plot: A game show is his only hope for finding his long lost love.

Where is the romance: Every question brings him close to his love.

13. Before Sunrise (1995) [IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes; 100%]

before sunrise

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v6X-Dytlko

The Best Line: “Isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”

The Plot: A man and woman meet on a train and spend an evening together in Vienna.

Where is the romance: If they did not make ‘Before Sunset’, you would still be thinking about the possibilities.

12. Breathless (France, 1960) [ IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

Breathless-1960-poster2

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJFFy3soy9Y

The Best Line: “Informers inform, burglars burgle, murderers murder, lovers love.”

The Plot: A murderer and a girl escape and hide in Italy.

Where is the romance: In the ambiguity.

11. Wall-E (2008) [ IMDB: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

wall e

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alIq_wG9FNk

The Best Line: “Computer, define ‘dancing’.”

The Plot: A robot goes in search of his love.

Where is the romance: The moment when WALL-E falls in love with Eve.

10. Notting Hill (1999) [ IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

NottingHillRobertsGrant

The Best Line: ” I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

The Plot: The unlikely romance of a superstar and a bookseller.

Where is the romance: In the park.

9. Lost in Translation (2003) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

lost in translation

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYAS92XPvIM

The Best Line: “Can you keep a secret? I’m trying to organize a prison break. I’m looking for, like, an accomplice”

The Plot: Two lonely people bond in Tokyo.

Where is the romance: You can feel it. You can only feel it.

8. The English Patient (1993) [ IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%]

English_Patient_Poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPKpU14Kqqw

The Best Line: “This… this, the hollow at the base of a woman’s throat, does it have an official name?”

The Plot: A spy and a married woman have a passionate affair.

Where is the romance: In the cave.

7. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (France, 1964) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

umbrellas

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7bhJkQd1T4

The Best Line: “People only die of love in the movies.”

The Plot: The tragedy of lovers separated by war which leads them to take life altering decisions.

Where is the romance: The most practical film on love.

6. Before Sunset (2004) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomaotes: 95%]

before

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

The Best Line: “You can never replace anyone because everyone is made up of such beautiful specific details.”

The Plot: They meet again after  nine years, this time in Paris.

Where is the romance: Everywhere.

5. It Happened One Night (1934) [ IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

it happened

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

The Best Line: “I don’t know very much about him, except that I love him.”

The Plot: The mother and father of every romantic comedy ever made.

Where is the romance: In it and in all the movies made later using the same template.

4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) [ IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

eternal_sunshine_of_the_spotless_mind_movie-207695

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0ywpOFLHMY

The Best Line: “I’ve never felt that before.”

The Plot: A couple undergo a procedure to erase each other from their memories when their relationship turns sour, but it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with. (From IMDB)

Where is the romance: When you know that some things are meant to be.

3. Cinema Paradiso (Italy,1988) [ IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes:96%]

cinema

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2-GX0Tltgw

The Best Line: “Whatever you end up doing, love it.”

The Plot: Love and heartbreak in post war Italy.

Where is the romance: In the music.

2. Brief Encounter (1945) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

BriefEncounterPoster

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

The Best Line: “This misery can’t last… Not even life lasts very long.”

The Plot: They meet by chance, they fall in love and ……

Where is the romance: Too many to mention.

1. Casablanca (1942) [IMDB: 8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

casablanca

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLU41jUnWM4

The Best Line: “We’ll always have Paris.”

The Plot:  Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into his.

Where is the romance: Whenever Ingrid Bergman is on screen.

Week 22

Movies: Non-English

No Man’s Land ( Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2001) [ IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

no man's

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YL8IF6431n4

In India, the claim to fame of this movie is its triumph over ‘Lagaan’ at the Oscars in the Best Foreign Film category. If you watch this movie you will understand why ‘Lagaan’ stood no chance. ‘No Man’s Land’ is quite possibly the best movie to have come out from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the conflict in the region. It does not shy away from exposing the farce that the war had become in the region. A bunker in a neutral territory is the stage for the film. Aided by strong writing and witty dialogues, the film is a breeze to watch. It is also a reminder that a good war movie can be made without relying on technical wizardry. A must watch.

A Very Long Engagement (France,2004) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

very long

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

Audrey Tautou became the darling of the masses with ‘Amelie’. Here, she collaborated again with the director of that movie to mixed success. The story is that of a lady who goes in search of her soldier fiance who does not return after the war. ‘A Very Long Engagement’ is a finely shot film. It is a visual treat but the moment the story starts you get a feeling that it is a feel good film that will definitely have a happy ending. On this count, the director does not disappoint. I would have loved it if it had been a tragedy but then the film takes the easy exit route. Audrey Tautou is there in almost every frame and she does justice to her role. Some technical jugglery becomes evident as we go along and this does not impress if you are a careful viewer. For example, the shots in which the train is shown give you a feeling that it was shot just once and then cut and pasted in different scenes. Even the background sound is the same. For its 133 minute duration, it is a very long movie for a very short story.

English Retrospective

Parenthood (1989) [ IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

parenthood

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgrbuRNc-AQ

This life affirming comedy tells the story of a family over a summer. Boasting a cast of some exceptional actors, the film delves into the different character types who form part of a big family of four siblings. The best thing about the movie is that all the characters are so well etched out that each of them stands out. The pivot is Steve Martin in arguably his best movie role. I feel that the movie is a tribute to the ordinary people who go about their lives and contribute to the society taking in their stride the ups and downs of life. My impression of the movie has only increased over time. It is not a movie you will easily forget.

The Guns of Navarone (1961) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

The Guns of Navarone collectors edition DVD

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhQvkPMNt70

Columbia Pictures had the audacity to claim in 1961 that ‘The Guns of Navarone’ was the most exciting film that people will ever get to see. Times have changed. The claim looks silly now but in 1961 that was not the case and to be sure, it did excite people when it was released. I have heard oldies discuss this film with passion and harping back to the good old days. Though technically it is a dinosaur, its dialogues and screenplay still make it a treat to watch. Gregory Peck is in his second best film role (the first will always be ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’) adds class to this movie in which he leads a mission to destroy Nazi cannons in an island in the Aegean sea during the Second World War. Soon it becomes evident that there is a traitor in the group. As if fighting the Nazis was not enough, they also have to find the mole in the group. Exciting.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

nightmare

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdb_HSvf2Zk

“Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep.” That dialogue is the key to this movie from the master of horror films Wes Craven. Frankly, I was a little confused after watching it for the first time because if you don’t watch with full attention you may find it difficult to make sense of the climax but there is no confusion on it being one of the best horror movies to be ever made. The movie turns spooky by blurring the line between reality and nightmares. Did that just occur or did you imagine it?

Movies I Saw This Week

Kick-Ass 2 (2013) [ IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 29%]

kick-ass-2-poster1

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UMbwxbgv8U

This film is a reaffirmation of my belief that Rotten Tomatoes ratings are closer to reality than the IMDB ratings. IMDB voting, I believe, is done primarily by teenagers who cannot distinguish between class and crap. It is exactly to this kind of audience that this sequel to a widely liked movie caters. It looks more like a satire or a parody on superhero movies with customary references to Youtube and Justin Bieber. Dialogues are way off the mark with gems like ” I’d rather be waterboarded than listen to Justin Bieber”. This, before the lady is turned on by a video featuring Bieber lookalikes. Whereas Kick-Ass had violence as a means to an end, here violence is the end itself. Characters are trigger happy and entering into violent duels is perhaps the favourite hobby of the characters. The movie seems to be confused whether it wants to pay homage to Hollywood’s obsession with dressed up superheroes or make fun of them. What was the scriptwriter thinking of when he came up with the name of the principal villain? I guess this movie may be for the kids of trigger happy conservative Republicans in the Christian belt of USA. Jim Carrey shows his true class by signing on the dotted line for this project. Avoid this film like the plague.

The World’s End (2013) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

world's end

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YF-4c8U-mUI

Simon Pegg teams up with his co-writer and director Edgar Wright after the success of ‘Hot Fuzz’. Simon’s character realizes at a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous that he had left his pub crawl unfinished when he was a teenager 20 years ago. He meets up with his buddies and cajoles them to do the thing all over again. Once in their hometown they realize that things are not what they expected them to be. The story takes a bizarre turn and the film turns into a thriller with the group now given the onerous responsibility of (what else) saving the world. The witty dialogues and banter keep the show going till this point. After that it is a big yawn. The action scenes are well choreographed and that is the best praise I can come up with for the second half of the movie,

World War Z (2013) [ IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 67%]

World-War-Z

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcwTxRuq-uk

Humans are facing an existential crisis. Don’t worry because USA is there. With a little help from Israel and Britain they will save the world. What could have been a really good thriller is spoiled by the overt attempt to fit the narrative in line with the US worldview. Truth be said, it is a pacy thriller with some really horrifying scenes. If you get sucked into the story it is more terrifying that the horror film of the year ‘The Conjuring’. The scenes are shot excellently and I would be surprised if the movie does not get at least an Oscar nomination for Production Design. The weakest link is Brad Pitt. His acting, it seems, has been affected by the dual responsibility of being a producer and an actor. He sleep walks through the role as if he knows the climax (and he surely does). Even in the most terrifying scenes he does not show any panic. Now coming to the red flags with regard to international politics. You see, Israel is justified in building large boundary walls so that they can keep the aliens (read ‘Palestinians’) out. North Korea, being a dictatorship, can remove the teeth of  all 23 million people in less than 24 hours, a mathematically improbable event (you do the math, I have done mine) so as to escape the pandemic. Of all the airlines in the world, the protagonist must escape on the plane of ‘Belarus Airlines’ (another dictatorship). The hero’s family must rescue a Spanish speaking boy along because there should be something for the American amigos to cherish after Mexico city has been lost. UN Under Secretary works to save only Americans. A Harvard greenhorn mutters something before dying and that conveniently becomes the principle on which the great American mind of Brad Pitt solves the entire issue. The rest of the world must be full of dumb idiots. Maybe a Nobel Peace Prize for Brad Pitt like his President? As his President showed, sometimes you just have to be alive to get one.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Confessions of a Superhero (2007) [ IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%]

confessions

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsAQ9nVZrJ8

The story of four people who make a living dressing up as superheroes on the Hollywood boulevard. Moving. In its own unique way.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Thanks for Sharing’ because it could be hot.

Did you know: The most popular movies in Africa are produced in Nigeria and the local industry is called ‘Nollywood’.