Week 20

Movies: Non-English

A Moment to Remember (South Korea, 2004) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

A-Moment-to-Remember-2004-K-Movie

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo9WSLv-lzs

This Korean romance will put even Bollywood to shame with its melodrama and overplaying of sentiments. It is a mushy romance which is worth a watch with your girlfriend/boyfriend. A young couple overcome many obstacles to get married and start a life together. Sooner than later, tragedy strikes when the wife is diagnosed with a rare form of memory loss. How the couple cope with it forms the rest of the story. The onscreen chemistry between the lead couple is unmistakable. The story reminded me of Erich Segal’s book ‘Love Story’. Overall, a breezy romance.

In the Mood for Love ( Hong Kong, 2000) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

in the mood for love

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kRQqksluZk

This is one of the better works of Wong Kar Wai. A man and a woman have one thing in common. Both doubt their spouses of infidelity. They also happen to be neighbours and this becomes their meeting point. The film is shot in a rather fluid way and moves at a leisurely pace. The film was acclaimed universally by the critics and had a good run in the festival circuit when it was released, with the lead actor bagging the ‘Best Actor’ award at Cannes. The best thing is that the films keep you interested till the very end when it goes for an unpredictable climax, something I could not foresee even though there are very heavy hints in the movie for that particular ending.

English Retrospective

The Graduate (1967) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

graduate-movie-poster

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

The film that practically made a star out of Dustin Hoffman. ” Mrs. Robinson, you are trying to seduce me.” The charm with which Hoffman says the dialogue is a reflection of the ease with which he carries the role. Hoffman plays a man who also falls for the mother of his girlfriend. Exceptional music with some of the chart-busters of the era help in creating the ambiance for one movie which is easy on the eye. Watch it for Dustin Hoffman.

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

gone with the

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFu-jemU-bA

If you not yet seen this classic, please do. It is one of the greatest movie spectacles to unfold on the big screen. Winner of 10 Oscars, it has unforgettable performances from all those performing in the movie. Few movies have had success in achieving the scale and grandeur of this movie. At its heart it is a love story but it is more of a story in the vein of great works of literature. I have wondered how they were able to achieve such finesse in 1939. It would be no exaggeration to say that many languages have not yet made one movie to compare with the quality of ‘Gone with the Wind’. And frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. Could not resist it.

From Here to Eternity (1953) [IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

from here to

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yup3rl2yK8A

This movie’s consistent claim to fame is the kiss scene on the beach which has almost always been voted as the best kiss scene in movie history. Fortunately, the movie also has a riveting tale to tell. It tells the story of an ultimately doomed romance with the US Army as the backdrop. It has a stellar cast and strong screenplay. All in all, a movie you should not miss.

Movies I Saw This Week

Pain and Gain (2013) [ IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 52%]

pain and gain

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEQ8jyvmYtw

The one thing about this movie is that if they did not write at the beginning that it is based on true events, it would have been hard to believe. For this reason, it feels like a farce at times but it is not the trash movie I was expecting it to be. It is a decent shot at telling a rather improbable story. For once I liked the acting of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson because he was playing a character that fits him well. A dumb body builder who has as many grey cells as the highest number a newborn baby can say. The casting is spot on but you know you are watching a wannabe film when graphics appear on screen to tell you explicitly who is the ‘weak link’ or who is the ‘new recruit’. For all its infirmities, it is still worth a watch.

Madras Cafe (India, 2013) [IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%]

Madras_Cafe_Poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnkKI01I0Ac

I have generally appreciated the efforts of John Abraham and his willingness to try different types of films. This is his attempt at interpreting the events that led to the assassination of former Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi by the now dead and buried LTTE rebels of Sri Lanka. The movie has a definite cutting edge feel to it and the fact that it has no songs is a great step because it does not mind breaking the stereotypes. Most of the scenes are evidently shot in Kerala. John looks the part as an army man. Even Nargis  Fakhri whose acting was so poor in ‘Rockstar’ that Ranbir Kapoor’s guitar in that movie acted better than her, does justice to a role which suits her. Legendary quizzer Siddartha Basu making his debut also looks sharp as the intelligence Chief. The movie builds towards the climax so well that one starts feeling sorry for Rajiv Gandhi. The film does have many loopholes. It is audacious to suggest that big corporations were behind the planning of the assassination just because Rajiv Gandhi was interested in solving the issue peacefully. Truth be told, Congress was down and out for the general election that was approaching then. There was no chance for Rajiv to return to power. Even the sympathy wave generated by his death did not help Congress get a majority in the elections that followed. Also, the film makes a joke out of India’s intelligence gathering capabilities. The reporter sitting in London knows more than the intelligence establishment. Now there is a talk of making this India’s official entry for the Oscars. Spare us the pain.

The Angel’s Share (2012) [IMDB: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

angel's share

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcQIvmR21VU

This is a fun movie and a mood elevator. It also happens to be on whisky. It is Ken Loach’s least serious film and that itself is enough reason to raise a toast to this movie which is about normal working class people trying to find their way in a difficult world. Not at all boring and educative in many ways. I recommend.

Documentary Pick of the Week

McLibel (2005) [ IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%]

mclibel

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyGK5j_EcmE

The story of a postman and a gardener who took on McDonald’s and won against all odds. The biggest David Vs Goliath story in corporate history. The biggest PR disaster in corporate history. I’m loving it. The documentary, that is.

Eagerly Waiting for: ‘Salinger’ because they apparently have material on this dead and reclusive writer to make a documentary on him.

Did you now: Samuel L Jackson holds the record for the actor whose films have grossed the highest at the box office.

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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.