Edition 84

The Non-English Movie of The Week

Our Little Sister (Japan,2015) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes:93% , My Rating: 7.5 ]

Trailer

‘Our Little Sister’ tells the story of three sisters who take in their fourth sister they never knew they had. This Japanese tale is a quiet triumph and a joy to watch. It also gives an insight into the traditions and way of life in rural Japan. The movie is akin to a piece of music which flows unabated. There is a sublime sense of happiness pervading the movie even when it tackles more serious questions. For a film which could have ended in various ways, ‘Our Little Sister’ bows out with a dignity that is the hallmark of the feature. Highly recommended.

Movies I Saw This Week

Detroit (2017) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes:83% , My Rating: 8.5 ]

Trailer

I have thoroughly enjoyed previous movies of Katheryn Bigelow like ‘Hurt Locker’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ (One of the best movies of the decade). ‘Detroit’ surely lives up to the expectations. Based on a real life incident in Algiers Motel, Detroit during the race riots of 1967, ‘Detroit’ is a story which must be told. Exposing the deep fault lines within the American social fabric and raising pertinent questions on police criminality, the movie is an edge of the seat thriller. ‘Detroit’ never has a boring moment but it has plentiful moments of horror and sadness. All credit for the memorable movie is due to Bigelow who deftly handles a theme which could have failed miserably in the hands of a less competent director. Watching the movie itself is a harrowing experience which can question your belief in the idea of justice itself. For all its pains, the movie is a pleasure.

Mother! (2017) [IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes:68% , My Rating: 4.5 ]

Trailer

My emotion towards ‘Mother!’ has been summed up beautifully by Anthony Lane of the ‘New Yorker’; “If you gave an extremely bright fifteen-year-old a bag of unfamiliar herbs to smoke, and forty million dollars or so to play with, “Mother!” would be the result.” ‘Mother!’ is a movie which is an insult to the intelligence of the audience. It is pointless and manipulative even when discounted for the allegory it purportedly portrays. I had to search to find out what the heck all this posturing by the director was about. If you are interested, the idea behind the movie is explained in an article here. It does not exonerate the director who also wrote the screenplay. Jennifer Lawrence who rose to fame through Harvey Weinstein movies, puts in a solid shift. There is nothing redeeming about the movie. It is a self indulgent piece which should be played as torture to death row inmates.

1922 (2017) [IMDB: 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes:88% , My Rating: 7.5]

Trailer

Based on the Stephen King novella, ‘1922’ is a haunting movie. Though the omens point to a decline into tragedy, the events that follow are nothing short of terror. Dealing with the concept of guilt and retribution, this movie sucks in the viewer with its raw and relentless attack on the protagonist who is destined to disintegrate. This is one of the underrated flicks of the year. The only word of caution is to watch the movie with subtitles as the accent is dated and a tad difficult to pick up.

Logan Lucky (2017) [IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes:93% , My Rating: 7.0]

Trailer

Steven Soderbergh is one of the most talented directors of our generation. ‘Logan Lucky’ marks his return to form. A disparate group bound only by their love for the booty decide to rob NASCAR (nothing less!) on a race day. As is the case with every good heist movie, it is not the heist per se which is important but what happens afterwards. That is what makes the movie better than average. Surely, ‘Logan Lucky’ is not a masterpiece but it is a movie which does justice to your viewing time. Since half decent heist movies have been in short supply recently, this movie quenches the appetite for the time being. Recommended.

It (2017) [IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes:85% , My Rating: 7.0]

Trailer

Another movie based on the work of Stephen King, ‘It’ has been a smash hit at the box office. The reasons are not hard to miss. It has a bunch of kids at the centre of the story and deals with adult themes like identity and willpower. A murderous shape shifting demon needs to be tamed before it finds its new prey. All the usual Stephen King props are in play in this movie. Conquering the fear of the dark, first love, taming inner demons, unity in diversity, and some other simplistic ideas are thrown in to add weight to the movie. The only thing missing is a kid in spandex. Surely, ‘It’ is not a boring movie. Far from it, ‘It’ has its moments but otherwise it is a movie with a standard template which leave the viewer rather underwhelmed as the credits roll.

Better Watch Out (2017) [IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes:91% , My Rating: 7.0]

Trailer

What I loved about ‘Better Watch Out’ is the twist it gives to ‘Home Alone’. In fact, there are not so subtle references to the ‘Home Alone’ franchise in this thriller with a bad heart. A boy is left with his nanny when his parents are away. What unfolds initially is a horror movie but with a major turn in the story as it evolves. Even the ending of the movie holds a punch and leaves the door open for a sequel. ‘Better Watch Out’ is a bit of twisted fun and I am not complaining.

A Ghost Story (2017) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes:90% , My Rating: 5.5]

Trailer

With a remote in your hand you will need very small amount of time to watch this tedious and unrewarding drama. Surprisingly, some people did find this movie interesting. I found the movie to be absolutely one of the worst of the year with its fake ideas and positioning. It has all the ingredients of a brainless idea which got greenlit by the presence of some bankable stars. For the record, the movie concerns itself with afterlife and coping with grief. In this respect the movie does not attain salvation. To be more to the point, it needs to be buried deep in the ground.

The Foreigner (2017) [IMDB: 7.2., Rotten Tomatoes:75% , My Rating: 6.5]

Trailer

Apparently, Jackie Chan has cried twice in his movies before. The third time is in ‘The Foreigner’ and this time you will join in his pain. Even in a movie where Pierce Brosnan has more screen time and better dialogues, Jackie Chan stands out as the 60 year old father who has lost everything and wants to avenge his daughter’s death. Though the politics of the movie is dubious and some parts are a stretch of imagination, the movie is written well enough to keep the viewer engaged till its predictable climax. The worldwide box office of more than a 100 million USD shows that the audiences also seem to approve the first real acting turn by superstar Jackie Chan.

Ingrid Goes West (2017) [IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes:86% , My Rating: 6.5]

Trailer

In times such as this where social media acts as an alternative to the real world, ‘Ingrid Goes West’ is a timely reminder of how far things can go wrong in the cyberspace. The lead character’s manic obsession of the number of likes she receives and the number of followers she has, leads to her losing her footing in the real world. As she gets close to an ‘influencer’ by crook, her obsession spirals out of control. ‘Ingrid Goes West’ tells that story and does it with panache. My only grouse is that the ending was unnecessarily saccharine sweet.

Documentary of the Week

Blue Planet 2 (2017) [IMDB: 9.8, Rotten Tomatoes:89% , My Rating: 10.0]

Trailer

Wow! Just wow. All the beauty in the world like never before. Educational, informative and entertaining. Must watch.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Phantom Thread’ because it is the swansong of Daniel Day Lewis.

Did you know: Shashi Kapoor had more films as the protagonist than any other member of the Kapoor clan. RIP Shashi Kapoor.

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Week 8

Movies: Non- English

The Sea Inside (Spain, 2004) [ IMDB: 8.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes : 91% ]

sea inside

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVRnG1MddAM

This week also we start with a Spanish gem. Based on a true story, ‘The Sea Inside’ chronicles a man’s fight for dignity and assertion of his right to live or die. As a bed ridden man, Javier Bardem shows that emoting does not require the whole body. The scene where he imagines him getting out of the bed has been shot exceptionally well. This movie may not be for everyone as it does pose some disturbing questions. I have a particular liking for the title. All of us, I believe, have a sea inside us. Sometimes calm, sometimes agitated.

The Eel (Japan, 1997) [IMDB: 7.3/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 81%]

the-eel

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

Winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival, this Japanese classic tells the story of a man trying to rebuild his life after a murder and a subsequent jail term. Usually the Palme d’Or goes to movies which focus on the technique than on the story. Here the story is as compelling as the style and for once it is not a slow movie. In spite of its comfortable pace, the philosophical moorings are hard to miss. In retrospect,  the protagonist’s life would have been different and he would have lived it out differently but he deserves a second chance. Everyone does.

The Son’s Room (Italy, 2001) [ IMDB: 7.3/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 84% ] 

son's room

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

This one also is a Palme d’Or winner. A psychiatrist who thinks he has all the answers is shaken after the sudden accidental death of his only son. The dynamics of a happy family change for the worse. It is interesting to note how a complete stranger is the trigger for them to return to their normal lives. The sessions after the death are painful. The movie is a study of people than anything else. To be sure, the film ends on a positive note. Sometimes, just feeling the wind blow may be the best therapy.

Hollywood Retrospective

The Bridge on River Kwai (1957) [ IMDB: 8.3/10, Rotten tomatoes: 96% ]

The_Bridge_on_the_River_Kwai_poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5hZ4Xv5VjE

If there is one moment in movie history when self realization is shown with such devastating effect, it is when Alec Guiness’ character says, ” What have I done?” in the motion picture ‘The Bridge on River Kwai’. Winner of 7 Academy awards, it is one in a series of masterpieces by maestro David Lean. The story is set in a prisoners of war camp where British soldiers are held by the Japanese during the Second World War. The captives are given the task of building a railway bridge across the river Kwai. What follows is the crux of the story, eventually highlighting the futility of war. This one is a must see. Also, see how a profanity can be whistled.

The Elephant Man (1980) [IMDB; 8.3/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%]

elephant man

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye4YTZOq2fk

This is a film about human dignity. The core idea being that every person deserves respect irrespective of how he/she looks. A heavily disfigured man finds his footing in a world which likes only the photogenic. His intelligence and character shine through with the help of a doctor. The movie was also a landmark for make-up. The category for ‘Make-up’ at the Oscars was introduced after this movie because people thought that if that did not deserve an Oscar, what would?

Movies I Saw This Week

Margaret (2011) [ IMDB: 6.5/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 71%]

margaret

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

A witness who is also a part cause for an accident that kills a woman goes in search of justice. Overall, the movies is not that bad but then it is only halfway through the movie that you realize that it is a study of the protagonist than a thriller. Anna Paquin is in fine form in that role but you will be left wondering what some of the characters are doing in the film, especially the ones like Matt Damon. I also think that the editor forgot to do his job. At 150 minutes the film does test your patience.

Shootout at Wadala (India, 2013) [IMDB: 5.7/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 47%]

Shootout-at-Wadala-Mo97vie-Poster-

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRwzT-oOoig

Based on the first ‘encounter’ in Mumbai,, the film says the oft repeated story of a middle class boy turning to crime after being wronged by the establishment. It is an unremarkable movie which one should ideally catch when it comes on the TV. It is as predictable as the colour of the Indian PM’s turban. The movie is told through one liners and some of them are good too.

Amen ( India, Malayalam, 2013) [IMDB: 7.5/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 100 %]

Amen-Malayalam-Movie-Review

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3NyHUPXARI

The movie has been shot so well that it shows Kerala at its full glory. For a movie made with limited financial resources, ‘Amen’ shows the hard work that has been put into the making of the film. A man’s attempt for recognition and his effort to win the hand of his lady love are told in the background of turbulent events at a church. The introduction of divine element in the climax was a nice touch. There are some avoidable scenes but the movie as a whole is a treat for the senses.

Parental Guidance (2012) [IMDB: 5.8/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 63% ]

parental

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

There are some really funny dialogues and scenes. The plot basically involves grandparents taking care of the kids when the parents are away. It is the type of movie which you don’t mind watching with popcorn to munch. No wonder that it was a blockbuster last year. If you are looking for anything beyond a ‘leave your brains at home’ entertainer, you will be disappointed. As always, Marisa Tomei is a delight to watch on screen.

Documentary Pick of the Week

The Cove (2009) [IMDB: 8.4/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

the-cove-movie

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KRD8e20fBo

This is an activist documentary. It shows the murky business of dolphin fishing and how powerful business interests are often portrayed as national interest. It is an inside view of what happens in the fishing industry. The documentary had been immensely successful in creating awareness about the issue. It is definitely worth a watch.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Man of Steel’ because if Christopher Nolan has a story to tell, it should be interesting.

Did you know: Akira Kurosawa and Alfred Hitchcock never won a competitive Oscar.