Week 28

Movies: Non-English

The Violin ( Mexico, 2005) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

violin

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVI4GjFkEq8

Quite possibly the best Mexican film of the last decade. The only soft thing onscreen is a violin, in a story which deals with the use of brute government force to crush dissent by a group of rebels. The heroism of the rebels is in stark contrast to unapologetic use of violence by the government forces which makes the film a difficult one to watch. Involving some of the most graphic and realistic scenes of violence you will ever see in a film, this one is ultimately worth the effort.

The 400 Blows ( France, 1959) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%]

400 blows

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i89oN8v7RdY

Francois Truffaut‘s masterpiece is one of the movies integral to the French ‘New Wave’. The story of a boy who is a victim of his circumstances remains timeless even half a century after its release. In the end, it is also a reminder that strong screenplay and an engaging story are the hallmarks of true classics. A must watch if you have any interest in international cinema.

English Retrospective

Mulholland Drive (2001) [ IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

mulholland-drive

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96R9MG0DxLc

This acclaimed film from David Lynch is one of the most discussed movies because of the way it leaves itself open to interpretations. If you read the numerous discussions on the movie you will be confused by what the movie wants to say. This has not been helped by the director’s refusal to clarify on what he meant to make but at the same time this is not a movie you can trash. The only thing that can be said with certainty about the plot is that there is a car crash and the victim suffers emotionally from it. The rest of the story is very much open to interpretation and you will be  certainly hooked on as the narrative progresses.

Election (1999) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

Election

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBgM_Kw6PSM

One of those easy to watch movies which raises itself a notch higher with the help of some fine acting and what I would bravely call as a story never told before. A high school teacher whose life is going nowhere is given the responsibility of handling the elections in his school. Only problem is that one of the candidates is a high achieving pushy character played with elan by Reese Witherspoon. Looking at the comedy that US politics has become, I guess they carry over the petty shenanigans of high school politics when they go to the Congress.

Life of Brian (1979) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

life of brian

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVHhg67RVd4

If ‘Life of Brian’ is made in almost any other country in the world, chances are it won’t see the light of the day. Quite obviously a hilarious take on Christ, it is only in USA that such unhindered freedom of speech would be possible. The end result is an outrageous and irreverent comedy that will make you ask for more.

Movies I Saw This Week

The Way Way Back (2013) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomaoes: 88%]

way-way-back-banner

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwNo1i3jkCo

A coming off age story of a 14 year old boy who discovers himself during a summer vacation. The movie is very predictable but some nice touches make it interesting and engaging. Nothing extraordinary but there are some movies which are ordinary and good. This one belongs to that category.

Best Man Down (2013) [ IMDB: 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]

BEST-MAN-DOWN_413x612

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eA1lAl9muuQ

The best man at a wedding dies on the night of the wedding. The newlyweds cancel the honeymoon and make arrangements for the funeral. It is then they discover who truly their dead friend was. A pretty decent flick which picks up in the second half. Sometimes you discover how good people were only after they die.

The Heat (2013) [ IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 76%]

heat

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahGnefZTdq4

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy play cops in this attempt at comedy which huffs and puffs as it plays out. There are some genuinely funny moments but then it fizzles out and does not live up to its initial promise.

War Chod Na Yaar (India, 2013) [ IMDB: 5.9, Rotten Tomaotes: 57%]

war-chhod-na-yaar

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw1ELVWGamI

Who funds such movies? Who was stoned, the producer when he decided to make it or the writer when he hallucinated the idea?

Documentary Pick of the Week

Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism (2004) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%]

outfoxed-rupert-murdochs-war-on-journalism-movie-poster-2004-1020227487

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w39FnpuMRfo

Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has a right wing agenda. Fox News is a leading unit of that empire and all its claims of fair and balanced reporting are exposed in this documentary. Indian news channels sold out to the ruling party look like kids in front of the sophistication of the propaganda of networks like Fox.

Eagerly Waiting for: ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’ because it won Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2013.

Did you know: Manna Dey and Bhupen Hazarika are the only two male playback singers to have won the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest award in Indian cinema. RIP Manna Dey.

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Week 12

Movies: Non- English

Merry Christmas (France, Germany, 2005) [IMDB: 7.7/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 81%]

merry-christmas-joyeux-noel-poster-0

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkKkAg4Ew-s

Based on true events, the film tells the story of enemies united by music and the spirit of Christmas. During the First World War, German, French and Scottish soldiers momentarily stop fighting on the eve of Christmas and celebrate it together. It is little difficult to describe because it looks surreal. If I were at the scene, I would have pinched myself. They just lie down their arms, exchange hugs, sing, celebrate Christmas and then go back to fighting. Nominated for Oscar in the best foreign language film category. Did not win. Even the Academy voters would have found the story too good to be true.

Mediterraneo (Italy, 1991) [ IMDB:7.1/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

mediterraneo

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hU4G6mfyvhM

Exquisitely shot anti-war romance. Italian soldiers land in a Greek island during the World War 2. The story develops as they come in contact with the people (some of them too gorgeous) of the island. Picturesque locations and the laid back life of the islands have an enduring effect on the soldiers. Though set during the World War, it is a light movie which moves at a leisurely pace. Only thing that can hold you back from watching this Oscar winner is the damning fact that it was produced by Silvio Berlusconi (yes, the Bunga Bunga guy). On a serious note, worth a watch.

Hollywood Retrospective

A Fish Called Wanda (1988) [IMDB: 7.6/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

fish called wanda

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

The thing about ganging up to commit robbery is that trust between the gang members is an absolute essential. The uproarious British comedy explores what all could go wrong when each member of a four member gang tries to double cross one another. Jamie Lee Curtis is in the role of a lifetime in this film which has comedy at its core but also has a story to tell. The sad thing is that many Indian movies have unashamedly stolen scenes from this movie. Otherwise, perfect weekend entertainment.

Raging Bull (1980) [IMDB: 8.3/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

raging-bull

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiVOwxsa4OM

The original boxing classic based on the life of Jake LaMotta. LaMotta reaches the heights by channeling his rage and anger on the boxing ring but as he climbs the charts, the same flaws take a heavy toll on his personal life. Robert De Niro deservedly won an Oscar for his performance but Scorsese had to wait till ‘The Departed’ to land his first one. The movie is a lesson on life. Don’t miss the title sequence in the beginning. I would have given Scorsese the Oscar just for that.

The Searchers (1956) [IMDB: 8.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%]

searchers

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI2AZb04HAc

A man’s search for his last remaining relative who has been kidnapped at a tender age. His persistence and focus also leads to morally ambiguous situations. After years of staying away in a different culture would the girl still want to come back? Will he take her back when she discovers that she is no more like the girl he was searching for? Tough questions. Watch the movie which is often cited as the best Western ever made.

Movies I Saw This Week

Upside Down (2012) [IMDB: 6.3/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 41%]

upside down

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkYvYGR7Ys4

A boy and a girl fall in love. Then they are separated. The boy does not let go and pursues the girl. Simple story. Only issue is that they live in different worlds which have opposite gravity. Since digitally everything is possible, we have a plastic world where things are so beautiful that you know they don’t exist. Since the science is spurious, the story also feels fake. Maybe, you can take your partner to the cinema, eat popcorn, discuss few things and occasionally look at the screen.

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) [IMDB; 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 61%]

Oz_-_The_Great_and_Powerful_Poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DylgNj4YQVc

The initial idea behind big budget animation films was that kids will drag their parents to the cinema and help sell those extra tickets. Disney has laughed all the way to the bank on a couple of occasions milking this idea. Now things are not so simple. So they have to throw in Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams to attract the right kind of audience. The grown ups can ogle at the beauties while the children can have the real fun. The movie is strictly for kids. They may enjoy it.

Raanjhanaa (India, 2013) [IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 50%]

tum-tak-raanjhanaa-2013-trailor-full-720p-multi

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ER9vmhxFucg

One line verdict: Not a bad film by the standards of Bollywood. Now the real thing (Spoilers ahead). If you think about it, ‘Raanjhanaa’ is a regressive film. The Muslim girl cannot marry any Hindu guy even when she has a choice of two. The leading lady is manipulative and does not really love any of her suitors. Truth be said, the film is about the love story of two different men for the same girl but it is all one way traffic. One of them is dumb enough to try his luck at marriage by posing as a Muslim and the other gets into politics of which he has no clue. The most sincere scene in the movie is when the men bond at the hospital bed of Abhay Deol. I have not lived in Uttar Pradesh but I can safely say that wrist slashing at the drop of a hat is not the preferred mode of wooing a girl in any part of the country. Come to think of it, Dhanush’s character is a bigger psycho than Shahrukh Khan of ‘Darr’. Here the stalking is direct and so in your face. Unfortunately Dhanush looks so earnest in his performance that you are willing to give him some sympathy but if you want to see why he won the National Award for best actor, watch ‘Aadukalam’. The good thing is that the movie does not really bore you and A R Rahman’s music helps the cause. Moral of the story for men: You cannot force anyone to love you and when you understand that get out of the scene. Otherwise you may find yourself in a coffin and the girl won’t even cry.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Man on Wire (2008) [IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%]

man on wire

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIawNRm9NWM

Some people have too much courage or are they plain crazy? In which category would you place someone who walks 200 feet on a wire between two buildings at a height of 110 storeys? That too, without any safety features. One guy did it in 1974 and this is the documentary on him and his activities. Don’t try at home.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘The Lone Ranger’ because of Johnny Depp.

Did you know: The African Americans who acted in ‘Gone With the Wind’ were not allowed entry to the premiere of the movie.