Edition 107

The Non-English Movie of The Week

The Whistlers (2019)[IMDB: 6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%, My Rating: 7.5]

This Romanian tale of corruption and romance does get too smart for its own sake at few key points but brings novelty in the form of a whistling language. I found this film a thoroughly enjoyable ride with great atmospherics in the form of dark humour and a sense of foreboding pervading the movie. With a little more thought in its screenplay, this movie could have been a classic but falls short when such high standards of judgement are to be employed. Nevertheless, ‘The Whistlers’ is a quirky piece of filmmaking that deserves a watch.

Movies I Saw This Week

A Quiet Place Part II (2021) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, My Rating: 7.5]

Starting with a scene to establish the antecedents of a prominent new character, this sequel is, I dare say, better than the original. The director-actor Krasinski at one point employs three parallel story threads to keep the viewer on the edge of the seat. There are copious scenes in which what sound means to us is manipulated to keep the viewer engaged. The acting is first rate with Emily Blunt stealing the show. There are some smart props including the scene when water is emplyed to disorient the predators. I have some beef with the climax though. I thought that it is similar to the climax of ‘Mars Attacks’. On second thought, maybe I am wrong to think so. I just hope that they do not make a third part for the sake of the adage ‘quit when you are at your peak’.

Plan B (2021)[IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, My Rating: 7.5]

An A level student and her buddy go on an adventure filled mission to secure a rare lifesaving invaluable thing which will change their lives forever. Translated as, a teenager desperately tries to get the after pill in the anti-abortion heartland of USA. Americans who pride themselves in their freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom to carry guns, freedom to go to war and so on, cannot engage with the idea that women are free to choose for themselves and not to be dictated to by men. Though ‘Plan B’ is a movie with a lot of fun, at its heart it speaks to bigotry. Bigotry is not the monopoly of right wing nuts but seem to permeate what the movie calls ‘the Indian mafia’. Come to think of it, the whole movie has existence because a Punjabi pharmacist uses a dubious defence to not allow teenagers access to birth control. Even when the movie aims for a laugh and in the most part does not take itself seriously, it does not bypass the angst and frustration of being pilloried by the devious lawmakers who pander to a vocal minority. As for the movie itself, it is a joy to watch. Highly recommended.

Luca (2021)[IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, My Rating: 7.0]

‘Luca’ has some very good animation and a lot of attention to detail. Fundamentally, it is a story of acceptance and willingness to engage with people who are alien. The Italian setting with a Vespa thrown in makes it all the more an easy ride. My major gripe with all this Disney stuff is that they seem to fit a carefully curated template which has helped Disney rake in the moolah without ever pushing the boundaries of storytelling in animation. If you are not bothered about such profound things, you can easily grab your popcorn and enjoy the ride. Afterall, you are being taken for a ride (in a Vespa, that too).

Till Death (2021)[IMDB: 5.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, My Rating: 7.0]

I have an admission to make. I have had only scorn for the acting prowess of Megan Fox. ‘Till Death’ has changed that wrong perception. Megan Fox looks the eye candy she has always been and I believe she likes it that way. Even in the first few scenes of the movie, she looks wooden without any acting chops. Then she embraces her character and churns out a career changing performance in this richly rewarding thriller. A wife finds herself handcuffed to her dead husband in a retreat in advanced winter. She also has some killers coming for her. She has to battle the odds to survive. The best thing with this movie is that once the stopwatch starts, it is a sprint to the end. Never boring even when there is no question on how the end will be.

Dinner in America (2021)[IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, My Rating: 7.0]

‘Dinner in America’ is not your average movie. It is about people on the fringes of the society and who do not fit in, in the conventional sense. Eventhough the storytelling is linear, it never gives the feeling that a story is being told. The characters evolve as time passes. ‘Dinner in America’ is a movie that grows on you with time. It is quirky. It has some riotous comic scenes. It is absurd. Also, it is a good love story. The usual story of a boy meeting a girl and finding each other as a reason to get better.

French Exit (2021)[IMDB: 6.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 62%, My Rating: 6.0]

An heiress’ escapes to Paris to live the last leg of her life. She is accompanied by her wayward son and a cat who embodies her dead husband. Michelle Pfeiffer does the star turn with her elegant performance. Her whims and acerbic tongue are her able aides as she plays the denouement of her operatic life. ‘French Exit’ is unremarkable except for the protagonist. It is the moments when she decides to take on people that define her and bring out the eccentricity of her character. That eccentricity is her most endearing trait. Yet, I could not help myself from imagining Meryl Streep in the role. That would be unfair to Pfeiffer. That is because of the fact that there is not much in the movie and whatever good is in the movie is secure with Pfeiffer.

The Power (2021)[IMDB: 5.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%, My Rating: 6.0]

In the Thatcherite years, a new nurse finds herself on night duty in a hopital where power cut is not the only darkness she has to battle. ‘The Power’ refers to more sinister characters in its title and not just the lack of electricity. The superhuman elements are weaved in to a movie where the heart of darkness is within those living and not those who are dead. The viewer need not be a genius to figure out who the antagonist is. The real credit for the movie is in the way it is shot and the ability to create a sense of horror and doom with minimal resources. ‘The Power’ seldom hits the high notes but insures itself against plunging to the depths. Overall, a one time watch.

Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021)[IMDB: 6.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 62%, My Rating: 6.0]

This movie has a lot going for it. An A-list lead, an A-list director and a budget to do justice to the script. The problem is with the script. The end product is slightly better than B-grade. Not a fail but just pass. There isn’t enough narrative tension. I was a disengaged viewer to the proceedings which boast some impressive set pieces but the sum of the parts does not add up to anything tangible. At every instance the movie gives a feeling of going through the motions. Watch if it’s free and you do not have to pay.

Documentary of the Week

Framing Britney Spears (2021)[IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes:NA , My Rating: 6.5]

The guardianship of Britney Spears is a contentious issue. A look at how Britney Spears ended up where she is and why she yearns for independence.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Val’ the documentary on Van Kilmer

Did you know: Harvey Weinstein’s defence in court appealed in the name of movies his production house made and the art it created as mitigating circumstances for his behaviour. Clearly, it did not move the jury.

Edition 88

The Non-English Movie of The Week

In the Fade (Germany, 2018) [IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 75%, My Rating: 7.0]


From acclaimed director Fatih Akin comes an avenge drama which gives a glimpse of the struggles of the delicately balanced identity politics in Germany. Diane Kruger plays a mother caught in the crossfire of neo-Nazi extremism and an inept judicial system. It is with great horror that she sees the tables turned on her when the neo-Nazis who show no remorse for their actions get away scot-free. She decides to take matters into her own hands. The film which plays out as a thriller has a lot going for it but the highlight of the movie is the sterling performance by Diane Kruger who scooped up many awards, including one at Cannes, for her theatrics. For all the drama that unfolds during the course of the movie, it is the denouement which leaves much food for thought.

Movies I Saw This Week

Thoroughbreds (2018) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, My Rating: 7.5]


Cory Finley is a director who offers copious amounts of promise in this stylish take on entitled millennials who cannot take no for an answer. Two friends reunite and in their cold emotionless thoughts develop a plan to kill. For them everything is dispensable and there is no concept of what is right or wrong. One of them revels in silence and the other reveals her inane thoughts by opening her mouth. They are always impeccably turned out. The director never lets the pace drop and shrewdly writes the dialogues which take the story forward without upsetting the tempo of the movie. The product is as high class as the the background of the protagonists of the movie.

Ali’s Wedding (2017) [IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, My Rating: 7.0]


This Australian feature is a delight to watch. It is that rare cross between a colourful Bollywood flick and a thoughtful Hollywood drama. The movie tells the life of Ali whose one lie spirals out of control. Though ‘Ali’s Wedding’ does paper over some medieval practices vis-a-vis the treatment of women in Islam, it does not hold back when it shows the intricacies of the life in the Muslim community in Australia. Mostly, the results are hilarious and when they are not, they still do not bore you. A breezy watch with heart warming performances and an engaging screenplay, Ali is worth your time.

The Death of Stalin (2018) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, My Rating: 7.5]


This biting political satire is an unvarnished look at the fictional politics during the death of Stalin. There are two ways to look at the movie. The favourable way is to see it as an attempt at farce to bring out some key ideas relating to politics and power play in the erstwhile Soviet Union. The slightly less favourable way is to read it with the present animosity between Russia and Britain and a British filmmaker’s attempt to paint the Russians as scoundrels. Apparently, the Russian government agrees with the latter evaluation as it has banned the movie in Russia. From a neutral perspective, the setting and shenanigans of the movie could fit into any autocracy in the world. The viewer may watch the proceedings with slight bemusement. There are enough colourful characters in this movie to keep you engaged and their unpredictability brings enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. Recommended.

A Quiet Place (2018) [IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, My Rating: 7.5]


‘A Quiet Place’ is set in a post apocalyptic world where aliens who respond to sound, kill and silence is golden. A corollary from the plot is that the movie has minimal dialogues. A family tries to survive and care for itself in seclusion. Their griefs and joys interspersed with violence form the crux of the movie. Though the film borrows heavily from other ventures which had sound in them, it finds its own place as one of the most well written movies to have come out in recent times. On a lighter note, the film shows you how to keep infants silent and how steaming or grilling is the best way to cook. Recommended.

The Mercy (2018) [IMDB: 6.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 71%, My Rating: 6.0]


The good thing with the movie is that it is based on a true event which had captured the imagination of the people for its scandalous nature. The bad thing about the movie is that there is no anticipation or excitement as the story is well known. To add to this, the director does not delve much into the character study and lets the events play out. The film which tells the story of amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst who went for broke as he decided to take up the challenge to be the first person to circumnavigate the earth non-stop. The performances of Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz add respectability to the movie. Ultimately, the movie is about a man who did not know what he was getting into and could never utter the word ‘no’ with conviction.

Revenge (2018) [IMDB: 6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, My Rating: 7.5]


With with the ‘Me Too’ and ‘Time’s Up’ movements in the vogue, ‘Revenge’ is a timely movie which may at many levels be the defining movie of  the aforementioned movements. Sophisticated and chic, ‘Revenge’ is a revenge drama with blood splashed all over it. For the ones who enjoy gore and violence, this movie may be music to ears and poetry in motion. With great performances and outstanding music complemented by beautiful cinematography which captures the brutal landscape, ‘Revenge’ does not fall into the trap of slasher films. It is often meditative and makes the audience root for the wronged heroine. ‘Revenge’ is not for the weak of heart and if you watch it you will understand that it was never meant to be.

Lust Stories (2018) [IMDB: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 77%, My Rating: 5.0]


An anthology directed by four respectable filmmakers, ‘Lust Stories’ stays true to its title. Probably that is the best thing I can say about it. Many of them play out like short films made by film students to complete their coursework. Somehow, it is the final piece of the quartet directed by Karan Johar which gets naughty. Karan Johar has no qualms about ruining one of his popular songs and he relishes the chance to do something different from the syrupy brainless movies he normally dishes out. It is in this setting that the high brow directors like Anurag Basu, Zoya Akhtar and Dibankar Banerjee fail to get out of their comfort zone. The pieces by the Basu and Akhtar are particularly tedious. The low cost of production is also evident in their work. Overall, the lust part is strong but the story part is particularly weak in ‘Lust Stories’.

The Kissing Booth (2018) [IMDB: 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 70%, My Rating: 5.5]


Some movies question your judgment as you watch them. In this case, my judgement of having chosen to watch ‘The Kissing Booth’. Based on a book developed on Wattpad (the warning signs were there, you see) and apparently loved by the millennials, the movie does justice to its source material. That’s not saying much though. The story is about a girl who falls for her friend’s brother but that is a taboo as per the regulations and rules governing their friendship. There are decidedly positive outcomes in this bleak scenario. For one, the movie works if you have are not bothered too much by the concept of logic and sense. ‘The Kissing Booth’ in fact, gives a good name to chick flicks.

The Week Of (2018) [IMDB: 5.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 36%, My Rating: 5.5]


The problem with ‘The Week Of’ is that I enjoyed it for a large part of its running time. Even when I was laughing at an outrageous joke or set piece. Even when I knew that what I saw did not make sense. Some of the jokes are so bad that they are good. As the setting of two families getting together for a wedding played out, one could not miss the fact that Adam Sandler was now the father of the bride. Adam Sandler is also one of the writers of the script. That is when I realized that Sandler is not going to go away anytime soon. Maybe it is a good thing. Maybe not.

Documentary of the Week

Faces Places (2017) [IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 99% , My Rating: 8.0]


A quirky duo set off on a road trip. They bring joy to people in small towns in France. An uplifting documentary which was crowdfunded.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘BlacKkKlansaman’ directed by Spike Lee

Did you know: ‘In the Fade’ is only the second time in her 47 acting credits where Diane Kruger speaks German.