Edition 86

The Non-English Movie of The Week

The Square (Sweden, 2017) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 82%, My Rating: 7.0]

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Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, this movie straddles between the realms of satire, drama and social commentary. The largely successful attempts to have some fun at the expense of the vacuous art world do not compensate for a screenplay notable for its inconsistency. The director bites more than he can chew. The missteps of a director at an art museum and the shenanigans surrounding his life form the bulk of the story. Then there are multiple strands on immigration, social media hype, artless art and allegories on the state of the society. The farce culminates in a mystifying sequence at an annual reception. ‘The Square’ is an entertaining movie in most ports but is more memorable as an opportunity squandered.

Movies I Saw This Week

Phantom Thread (2018) [IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 91% , My Rating: 7.5]

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Some actors have the ability to rise above a movie and draw the viewer in. Daniel Day Lewis is perhaps the greatest living actor and what a pity that he makes movies once in a blue moon. As the workaholic designer in ‘Phantom Thread’, he is a joy to watch. His screen presence and a masterclass in acting take the otherwise average movie a notch or two higher. The story is about a designer at the top of his game and the interruptions in his life when a lady as hard as a nail walks into his life. The cinematography of the movie is first rate and the director should take some credit for keeping the movie as taut as he could. Watch it for Daniel Day-Lewis.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) [IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 82% , My Rating: 7.5]

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The story of author Charles Dickens as he pulls out all stops to get the classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ published after reeling from the failure of his three previous novels. The movie does a good job of bringing the persona of Dickens to screen. Although a bare minimum knowledge of ‘A Christmas Carol’ will be needed to understand the movie well, the lack of it will not be a hindrance to enjoying this movie which celebrates the life of Dickens. Not only is there a context to the creation of ‘A Christmas Carol’, there is nice back story to the life of Dickens and his evolution as an author. This movie is one of the lesser known and yet eminently watchable releases of 2017.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017) [IMDB: 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 51% , My Rating: 5.5]

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I expected much more from the director of ‘Nightcrawler’ and what was served was a damp squib. The only saving grace of this mangled venture is a powerhouse performance from Denzel Washington. He plays a civil rights lawyer who gets the short end of the stick after a selfless life dedicated to causes he believes in. He goes rogue and from there on the director also goes rogue. Some movies tie themselves in knots and have no fair chance of untangling the mess. This movie, after a certain point in the narrative, is in dire search for a climax. Imagine you have in mind a juicy piece of chicken and what you get is a wet piece of chicken dripping with water. This movie is the cinematic equivalent of that wet piece of chicken.

My Friend Dahmer (2017) [IMDB: 6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 83% , My Rating: 7.0]

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Jeffrey Dahmer was one of the worst serial killers in history. He was a sociopath. Before he started his killings, he was the classmate of a cartoonist in high school. This movie which is based on the best selling graphic novel by his cartoonist friend tries to shed some light on the making of a sociopath. The movie is a character study and does not try to airbrush the brutality of the killer. The good part is that there are no killings in the movie as the movie shows the build up to the creation of a monster. Packed with competent performances and a strangely memorable ending, this is a movie which is certainly worth your time.

A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 75% , My Rating: 7.0]

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This movie tells the story of the people behind the creation of ‘National Lampoon’ through the story of one of the co-founders of the magazine and movie franchise. The movie takes a format which gives it a feeling of a documentary. A bevy of comedians including Chevy Chase are part of this ride. The story is told in a conventional format and is thoroughly entertaining. The only gripe could be that for a story full of irreverent people and unconventional ideas, the director sticks to a rather straightforward narrative. Still, recommended.

Good Time (2017) [IMDB: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 92% , My Rating: 7.0]

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Robert Pattison shows that he can act. He and his mentally challenged brother have to solve a litany of problems in the aftermath of a bank robbery. ‘Good Time’ loses its pace at some key moments and the work could have been more unsettling in the hands of an experienced director. Nevertheless, the famished face of Robert Pattison carries the weight of the movie. He is practically unrecognizable from his ‘cool dude’ image in the insufferable ‘Twilight’ franchise. The last scene of this movie is a knockout and summarizes the movie in the most effective way possible. Watch, if you like slow dark stuff.

Downsizing (2017) [IMDB: 5.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 51% , My Rating: 4.0]

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I believe that Alexander Payne is one of the most overrated directors of our time. He has received undeserved praise for pedestrian films like ‘Nebraska’, ‘The Descendants’ and ‘About Schmidt’. Finally he is exposed in this ruinous and boring movie called ‘Downsizing’. Matt Damon signs up to a new program in which people who are shrunk in size with the aid of science start living in secluded gated communities. After the first twenty minutes, this movie is a bore fest with the viewer wishing that he could also shrink in size and disappear from the movie hall. The movie is just an ego trip for the director and soon tumbles into a the worst mode possible at a cinema; it becomes a pulpit for preaching. Save your time. Think big. Skip this small minded movie.

Only the Brave (2017) [IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 92% , My Rating: 7.5]

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‘Only the Brave’ has the right blend of emotion and action to keep the viewer engaged. It tells a story of firefighters with all the technical stuff while ensuring that the human element is never lost. The story follows a band of characters with a back story which helps in keeping the viewer invested in the destinies of the people on screen. Highly recommended.

Documentary of the Week

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2017) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 93% , My Rating: 7.5]

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The story of a small community bank which was the only financial institution taken to trial in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. When the companies that were deemed “too big to fail” were bailed out, this small bank was considered too small to be trampled upon. Engaging watch.

Eagerly waiting for: The Academy Awards on March 4.

Did you know: In the first edition of this blog in April, 2013, this section told the story of Kevin O’Connell who held the record for maximum Oscar nominations (20) without a win. As a testament to the power of perseverance, he broke his bad luck dating backing to 1984 (his first nomination was for ‘Terms of Endearment’) and won his first Oscar on his 21st nomination. This was for Sound Mixing in ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ last year. The new holder of the unenviable ‘most nominations without a win’ title is another veteran at Sound Mixing: Greg P. Russell, who has 17 nominations to his credit. As an aside, cinematographer Roger Deakins who is right up there in the list with 13 unsuccessful nominations is nominated this year for the 14th time, with his brilliance in ‘Blade Runner 2049’ giving him the nomination this year. Here’s to a win for Roger Deakins.

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75: Platinum Edition

The Non-English Movie of The Week

Son of Saul (Hungary, 2015) [IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, My rating: 9.0]

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One of the most emotionally draining movies of all time, ‘Son of Saul’ effortlessly canters into the status of a classic. With accolades which include top prizes at assorted film festivals including Cannes, and the Best Foreign Movie at the Oscars, the movie is a compelling tour-de-force. The story revolves around a Jew who is tasked with handling ‘operations’ in the Auschwitz concentration camp and his desperate attempts to organize a religious burial for his son who is gassed to death. ‘Son of Saul’ is one of the most original films I have ever seen.The camera focuses on the protagonist and the story is told through his silent despair. Even when the background is mostly out of focus, the horror at the concentration camp is very much in focus. The utter disregard for human life and the clockwork precision of activities at the camp would have been shocking if they had not been deeply moving. This is a movie you will find difficult to forget.

Movies I Saw This Week

The Man Who Knew Infinity (2016) [ IMDB:7.9, Rotten Tomatoes:62%, My Rating:6.5 ]

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Srinivasa Ramanujan was a self taught genius who could have revolutionized the field of mathematics but for his untimely death. In his short life span he was able to create ripples in the lake that is mathematics. The movie version shines a light on his remarkable life but is let down by the sloppy acting of Dev Patel. His acting is still in the infancy of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ days. Jeremy Irons saves the day by virtually carrying the scenes with his screen presence and dialogue delivery. The hackneyed script meanders along before it is set on its due course. There are some redeeming factors which don’t let the film sink but a far better movie would do justice to S. Ramanujan. Till then, if you want to see a movie with a mathematics genius, watch ‘Good Will Hunting‘.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) [ IMDB:7.6, Rotten Tomatoes:90%, My Rating: 7.0]

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’10 Cloverfield Lane’ would have been a classic but for its title. That sentence will make sense when you watch the full movie. A young woman finds herself in an underground bunker after a car crash. Her rescuer claims to be protecting her from the perils of the outside world. She also has company in the form of another hostage. As her stay extends in the bunker, her will to escape gets stronger. The movie is engaging but the jarring background score in the initial parts of the movie distracts the viewer more than it thrills. Even then the anticipation of what lies ahead is never lost. There are some neat tricks in the screenplay like the scene in which the protagonist removes the mask and discovers that everything is normal. ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ is a good sequel and lays the groundwork for another sequel but it could have been much more than that.

Eddie the Eagle (2016) [ IMDB:7.6, Rotten Tomatoes:86, My Rating:7.5 ]

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There is nothing like a feel good movie. Feel good movies from the sports arena are especially captivating because who doesn’t love an underdog story? Eddie Edwards was not shooting for the stars when he chose skiing. His single-minded pursuit was for Olympic glory. He did not even want to win. He just wanted to be an Olympian. This movie, based on real events, is his story. Taron Egerton transforms to Eddie Edwards and makes him a lovable character. Hugh Jackman has fun in a role that helps him break the mold. Together they create an engaging duo in a well written movie with all the paraphernalia that accompany such movies. For a movie which has a guarantee of a happy ending written all over it, ‘Eddie the Eagle’ is a good watch.

Hush (2016) [ IMDB:6.7, Rotten Tomatoes:100%, My Rating:7.5]

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‘Hush’ is the story of a deaf-mute author who is under siege from a killer while alone at home. The killer reveals himself to her and makes it amply clear who is in the driver’s seat. What ensues is a cat and mouse game with the death of one of them as the only way to end the standoff. Deftly handled scenes and some fine acting make this movie a top class thriller. Definitely worth a watch.

The Ardennes (Belgium, 2015) [ IMDB:7.0, Rotten Tomatoes:Not yet rated, My Rating:6.5 ]

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‘The Ardennes’ from Belgium tells the tale of two brothers over the course of four years when one of them is convicted for a botched up crime. The movie has a wafer thin plot and moves at a languid pace for most part. It is predictable to some extent but it is the last twenty seconds of the movie that take it another level altogether. The easy thing to do to is to skip the scenes which don’t have dialogue in them. If it were to be reduced to one hour, the movie would have been a rather short and sweet package. Nevertheless, a good film.

The Jungle Book (2016) [ IMDB:7.9, Rotten Tomatoes:94%, My Rating:7.5] 

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‘Jungle Book’ brings a truckload of nostalgia. When I was a kid (that was a quarter of a century ago), ‘Jungle Book’ used to be one of the main cartoons on Doordarshan (India’s official TV network). From the remarkable run this movie version is having at the box-office, it is safe to assume that it is not just me who is having a bout of nostalgia. The success of the movie is also because of the technical wizardry at work. The scenes are captivating and the editing is sleek. There is no dull moment in this masterful production of a much loved novel.  There are some discordant notes though. In the original Jungle Book the snake ‘Kaa’ was a male and friendly to Mowgli but in the film Kaa becomes a female and becomes a dangerous adversary. Similarly, the monkey king is given mannerisms, crooning and dialogues similar to that of an African-American. Small discordant notes. Enjoyed the film though.

Creep (2015) [ IMDB:6.2, Rotten Tomatoes:96%, My Rating:6.5]

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‘Creep’ is shot in the ‘found footage’ format. A craiglist ad entices a videographer to take up a one day shoot in a remote area. When he arrives there he finds his spooky but well meaning guest. The videographer’s sympathies soon turn into pure angst and fear. For once, he does not realize what he has signed up for. In some ways the naivete of the protagonist is the cause of all his perils. I wondered more than once on the improbability of the plot and also how easily the videographer’s concerns were rubbished by the police. If you sweep such inconsistencies under the carpet, the movie is a rather engaging watch. Mercifully, it is only 77 minutes long.

Jacobinte Swargarajyam (Malayalam,2016) [ IMDB:7.9, Rotten Tomatoes:Not listed, My Rating: 7.5]

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Dubai is a mirage in the middle of a desert. It is in this Dubai that dreams are built and hopes are shattered. When the 2008 economic crisis and a cheating business partner create the perfect storm for a family, the family finds strength and courage from sources hitherto unknown to them. ‘Jacobinte Swargarajyam’ tells the story of that family. Based on real events, the movie does not fall into the trap of being excessively sentimental. The makers also resist the temptation of making it a riches to rags to riches story. The focus is on people: within the family and outside it. Another piece of evidence to show that the best movies in India are made in non-Hindi languages.

Baaghi (Hindi, 2016) [ IMDB:5.9, Rotten Tomatoes:63%, My Rating:5.5]

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This movie is vehicle for Tiger Shroff to establish his credentials as an action hero. The problem with it is that it looks dated and the story and screenplay seem to have been stolen from the tomb of Tutankhamun. The director is so out of his ideas that he even recreates a song sequence of ‘Dil-Se’ in his thoroughly boring songs. Not content with this he also has a copy of a rain song which looks eerily similar to another song in the Tamil film ‘Mazhai’ (That movie is a remake of Telugu hit ‘Varsham’.  The formula is simple. Action sequence followed by a song. Repeat. The jokes could have been called stale but they were pickled a long time ago by other filmmakers to extend their expiry dates. Good that they shot most of the movie in Kerala because people there could have never understood the nonsense they were being subjected to.

Sairat (Marathi, 2016) [ IMDB:9.5, Rotten Tomatoes:Not listed, My Rating: 8.0 ]

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Official selection at the Berlin International Film Festival and on course to be the biggest Marathi film of all time, ‘Sairat’ holds a mirror to the deep seated caste prejudices in our society. Unnecessarily long at 170 minutes, the movie is about the budding love between youngsters from two different castes and the ramifications of their love. Told through the eyes of the leading lady (Rinku Rajguru in a National Award winning role), the film is a breeze in the first half. The director steadily builds the story and adds more gravitas to the proceedings in the second half. The score does no harm to his efforts. It is difficult to write more without giving away the plot details but suffice to say that the climax of the film is truly exceptional for the thought that has gone into it.

Fan (Hindi, 2016) [ IMDB:8.0, Rotten Tomatoes:82%, My Rating:4.0]

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Nobody loves Aryan Khanna (that is, Shahrukh Khan) more than Gaurav Chandna (that is, Shahrukh Khan). The word ‘Narcissim’ traces its origin to a young Greek called Narcissus who fell in love with his reflection in a pool. What if people turned suicidal after watching ‘Dilwale’ and ‘ Happy New Year’? SRK still has fans going crazy in front of his house when he cares to wave at them. He has fans willing to kill for him. He has fans willing to die for him. He has producers who make films for him. He has writers who indulge his megalomania. He can make films where the other actors have nothing to say or do. He can hold forth on issues affecting the nation as if he really cares. He can release films in movie halls and expect people to watch. But he cannot make even his fans watch a film called ‘Fan’. Alas, even SRK’s fans have brains.

Documentary of the Week

That Sugar Film (2014) [ IMDB:7.3, Rotten Tomatoes:64%, My Rating:6.5]

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A documentary chronicling the ill effects of sugar on the body. Informative.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Kabali’ because there is no one like Rajnikanth

Did you know: “Shahrukh” means “face of the king”

Edition 72

The Non-English Movie of The Week

Mustang (France, Turkey, 2015) [IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes:97%, My Rating:8.0 ]

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This drama on the lives of five free spirited sisters in Turkey, is in turns poignant and triumphant. In a deeply patriarchal society where older women are accessories to reinforce the system, the resistance of two of the sisters to chart their own course forms the heart of the story. Shot in Turkey, this film is also France’s entry at the Oscars and rightfully earned its nomination in the Foreign Film category. It may not be off the mark to say that the movie depicts the creeping religious extremism in a once liberal Turkey. Starting on a low gear the movie gains momentum and becomes a tour de force as it progresses. At some point in the movie it feels that in some societies the only expectation from a woman is marriage; a marriage in which she has no say whatsoever.

The cast and crew of the movie deserve plaudits for the original vision and performances. The climax of the movie is an optimistic one but feels out of place and unconvincing based on the narrative till that point. For all its infirmities, ‘Mustang’ is still one of the best films of 2015. Must see.

Movies I Saw This Week

Anomalisa (2015) [IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes:92%, My Rating:7.5 ]

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Charlie Kaufman is one of my favorite screenplay writers. I thoroughly enjoyed his creations like ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, ‘Adaptation’, and ‘Synecdoche, New York’. In ‘Anomalisa’, he addresses the all too familiar issue of mid-life crisis with an unfamiliar technique. With only three actors voicing this motion capture format movie, the scenes are thankfully not belittled by the limited budget. A rock star sales professional who focuses on customer experience and his mundane life form the core of the movie. Mildly dull at times, Anomalisa’s saving grace is the philosophical tinge that permeates the movie. At its center, the movie is a deeply sad one with disturbing visions on solitude and love. Charlie Kaufman is in his elements when he taps into the small things that make life, dissects them and holds a mirror to the daily life. The only grouse I have with this movie is that it would have looked much better if it had been shot in the conventional format with real people.

The Stanford prison experiment (2015) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes:86%, My Rating:6.5 ]

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Based on the famous psychology experiment conducted at Stanford in 1971, the movie captures the behavior of students when they were segregated to prisoners and wardens in an experimental prison. As a classic case of how people respond to authority and power, the experiment itself was quite illuminating. This motion picture tries to capture the essence of what happened behind the scenes. At times revealing and at times painfully monotonous, the movie is dogged by the inconsistency of the material on screen. It is of interest to note that even unimposing characters show an air of supremacy when granted powers to lord over people. The high quality of research at top universities and the lengths to which researchers go can be understood with this showcase research phenomenon. The movie is recommended only for those with an interest in delving into the dynamics of power within a hierarchical system.

 

Sicario (2015) [IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes:93%, My Rating:7.5 ]

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Emily Blunt plays the role of a FBI agent who is coerced to ‘volunteer’ to be part of a team fighting the drug cartels in the area of US-Mexico border. The opening scene sets the mood and pace of the movie but as the movie progresses only the mood is retained. Painfully and unnecessarily slow in certain segments, the movie bursts into life in fits and then returns to dormancy. Sicario’s subject matter is not refreshingly different from movies which have dealt with the same theme. Its beauty is derived from the spellbinding cinematography of Roger Deakins and an engaging music score. It is a pity that Deakins may well lose out to Emmanuel Lubezki at the Oscars. Emily Blunt, whose vulnerability is exposed as the movie progresses, adds her weight to the proceedings. Her anger and fear as her role in the mission is revealed is where the movie rises a notch higher than the movies of the same genre.

The Revenant (2015) [IMDB: 8.3, Rotten Tomatoes:86%, My Rating:8.0 ]

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With a dozen Oscar nominations and a few Golden Globe wins, ‘The Revenant’ is in the driver’s seat for the ongoing awards season. It tells the true story of frontiersman Hugh Glass who was left for dead by his team in the wild with only the crushing winter for company. Director Innaritu follows his trademark hard hitting style he has carried from his directorial debut Amores Perros (reviewed in the first edition of this blog). The film opens with a scene similar to the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan. Many movies have tried to copy that template of a high voltage opening scene to grab the attention of the viewer but very few have been successful. ‘The Revenant’ belongs to the latter category. Then the movie gets into its subject matter where DiCaprio is mauled by a bear. That scene basically checks out the Oscar for best makeup. Then our hero goes through all sorts of trials and tribulations. That checks out the ever elusive acting Oscar for DiCaprio. Finally the effort to act in such a demanding movie may be the only way for Dicaprio to get an Oscar rather than the acting itself.

The movie was shot only with natural light. That means that the crew had to plan shots and utilize the limited time in a difficult terrain to film. The scenery is engrossing and at times intimidating. Unlike last year’s ‘Birdman’, Emmanual Lubezki does not make the presence of his camera apparent and yet delivers one of the most exquisitely shot movie of our times. It is hard to see him not getting a hat trick of Oscar wins. The movie unnecessarily blends in other themes which are irrelevant to the central theme and create distraction. Now the question is about the best Film and Director. This will be a tight call because as an end product the film is spectacular but boring for much of the latter half. More on the predictions in my annual predictions issue before the Oscars. One category the film will not win is the Editing. As the film moves towards the climax you cannot be faulted if you are thinking of what to do after the movie. It does get tedious at some points but the movie is spectacular at some other points. Watch it for the spectacular points.

Creed (2015) [IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes:94%, My Rating:7.5 ]

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‘Creed’ has been in the news for the Oscar snub delivered to its African-American director and lead star. The truth is that purely on the basis of merit that is a fair decision and so is the Oscar nomination for Sylvester Stallone. Creed is a good movie but not a great movie. It plays highly on nostalgia and extracts every ounce of the popularity of the ‘Rocky’ franchise to build its story line. The only one who puts the nostalgia to good use is Stallone who delivers the best performance of his career as the retired champion who takes the son of his great opponent under his tutelage. Full of sports movie cliches, the movie succeeds by keeping it grounded and anchoring the story on the capable shoulders of Stallone.

Joy (2015) [IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes:60%, My Rating:6.0 ]

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The third collaboration of the team of Director David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper after ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and ‘American Hustle’, this movie is the weakest of the lot. In a role which doesn’t suit her Jennifer Lawrence still delivers a very competent performance but the word competent cannot be associated with anybody else who was involved in the making of this movie that meanders like a river before fading into irrelevance. The story is inspired by the life of the inventor of a long lasting ‘revolutionary’ mop and sundry other products. The mop looks to be a very good product but the same cannot be said of the movie which is tiring and directionless in large parts. Wish mops could mop up the remnants of such movies.

Landmine goes click (2015) [IMDB: 6.3, Rotten Tomatoes:95%, My Rating:6.5 ]

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An entertaining revenge drama told in the format of a thriller makes this movie one of the better independent films of 2015. A group of friends in a remote location face an unexpected challenge when one of them steps on a landmine. Their efforts to rescue him lead to a series of events which extend much beyond the landmine itself. Delightfully directed and enacted, the movie is definitely worth a watch.

Mistress America (2015) [IMDB: 6.0, Rotten Tomatoes:82%, My Rating:6.5 ]

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Well written comedy with good dialogues is a hallmark of Greta Gerwig movies. So is the case here. Greta plays a happy go lucky lady with a severely inflated image of her caliber. In reality she is just good at talking and has no plans or the will to implement plans. An episode in her life is told through the eyes of an outsider. The good thing about the movie is that the characters stay true to their roles and are able to connect with the audience. Good viewing especially if you have no great expectations.

Backcountry (2015) [IMDB: 6.0, Rotten Tomatoes:88%, My Rating:6.5 ]

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A couple lost in the woods get attacked by a bear. There could be an Oscar competition for the best bear between the bear in this one and in The Revenant but both of them are a tribute to the way computer effects have helped in movie making. As for Backcountry, it is a movie in which the tension builds up slowly but surely. All hell breaks loose in the last 20 minutes of the movie. Some of the scenes are too graphic and meant only for those who can stomach them. Otherwise, worth your time.

Documentary of the Week

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (2015) [IMDB: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes:95%, My Rating:6.5 ]

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A documentary chronicling the popular uprising in Kiev against the government. Nominated for Oscars this year, the documentary follows a dateline to show the events that unfolded in the anti-government agitations but is restricted by its inability to get the point of view of the opposing side.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ because three is a charm.

Did you know: 94% of Academy Award voters are Caucasian and 77% are male. Only about 2% are black, while Latinos compose less than 2%. Oscar voters have a median age of 62. People younger than 50 constitute only about 14% of the membership. (Source: LA Times)

Edition 53: The Best of National Awards

Movies: Non-English

Fireworks (Hana-bi) (Japan, 1997) [ IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

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With generous doses of blood splashing on the screen and numerous scenes with physical violence, this Japanese classic is not a pleasant film to watch. A cop gets out of the police force and gets into violent ways. He takes up painting after his voluntary retirement but the pent up frustrations in his life boil over. Shot with an element of sadism in the scenes of violence and marked with insensitivity to human life, the film is a masterclass in violence. The lead actor wrote and directed the film and it is safe in his hands as he is able to fully realize what he penned.

The Wave (Germany, 2008) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 81%]

Wave (2008)

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For many poorly informed foreigners, especially non-Europeans, the everlasting word association with Germany is ‘Hitler’. Though unfair to Germany and Germans, this is one association they find very difficult to shake off. This film explores the possibility of the rise of a dictatorship in Germany. Based on a true story (that happened outside Germany),  a social experiment trying to figure out how life would be under a dictatorship, spirals out of control. Though the film suffers much on account of the difficulty in making it believable, it is a study on how cults emerge and how a few committed mad men can create havoc in the society. Highly recommended.

Movies I Saw This Week

Jolly LLB (India, 2013) [IMDB: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: Not yet rated]

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I did not watch this movie earlier thinking that it was one of the assembly line manufactured products from Bollywood. The ‘critics’ from mainstream media were also reserved in their reviews with no high praises being spoken of the film. It is after the film scooped few awards at the Filmfare awards that I thought that I should probably watch it. The probability turned into certainty when the film won a few more awards at the National Film Awards. It is a mystery to me (maybe, it is not) how pathetic mainstream movies with huge star casts receive glowing paid for reviews while good independent cinema is hardly recognized. Jolly LLB, minus the forced songs, is indeed the best Hindi film of 2013. It has a very original script and fine performances from all the main actors including Saurabh Shukla, Arshad Warsi and Boman Irani. Telling a contemporary story, it is a courtroom drama that exposes the ills of the Indian judicial system without taking itself too seriously. The court scenes look authentic and the dialogues are never forced. It is a quite an easy film to watch and keeps you interested even when the climax is a foregone conclusion.

Labor Day (2013) [ IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 33%]

Labor Day

Trailer: 

This film looks like a 70s movie with better cast and poor directing. A cure for insomnia. It is baffling how Kate Winslet got a BAFTA nomination for her insipid performance. The plot involves a single mom and her son being forced to give asylum to a criminal on the run from the law. A lot of mushy moments that are obviously built into the story to initiate intimacy between the couple fall flat. All this makes it a B grade movie with an A list star cast which makes you laugh in the serous moments.

Shahid (India, 2012) [IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

shahid

Trailer: 

Based on the true story of the slain advocate who defended the accused in many high stakes terror cases, ‘Shahid’ is a tour de force. Punching many holes in the narrative of the investigation agencies, Shahid becomes a thorn in the proceedings for people wielding power. He succeeds in getting acquittals for many of the accused.The movie which starts with the killing of Shahid traces his story from almost becoming a terrorist to being at the vanguard of the fight against human rights abuses. Rajkumar Rao deservedly got the Best Actor award at the National Film Awards. ‘Shahid’ tells a story that needs to be told and they have told it quite well.

2 States (India, 2014) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 67%]

2-states-poster_139296427700

 

Trailer: 

First the good parts. It is not a boring film and Alia Bhatt has acted well. Discounting for the source material, the film is well directed and edited. In simple words, it is not boring. Otherwise, it is a story which was taken from a screenplay published as a novel. (Spoilers Ahead) Chetan Bhagat writes screenplays with melodramatic moments and high drama in plain English and first publishes them as books priced at suitable pricing points. Later they make them into movies which neatly fit the genre of the typical Bollywood romance. The film is a refined version of Ekkkkkkta Kapoor’s serials, with squabbling relatives and tender love caught in the cross fire. Here a Punjabi guy and a Tamil Brahmin girl (you see, the cast has to be mentioned. As if, others don’t study in Tamil Nadu) fall in love, copulate and even romance during interviews during their stint at IIM A. In what is bad advertisement for IIM A, the girl even takes the groom to task over his lower salary than hers at a wedding which is her way of addressing the dowry problem. I have only sympathy for the souls who think that Chetan Bhagat writes something new in every book. It is the same recycled trash. All his books have the same type of ‘liberated’ women. Just like the much prized pen in ‘3 Idiots’ there are plot devices that keep on repeating in the movie for them to be magically resolved. A case in point here is the poor singer mother-in-law who gets her place in the sun because of the efforts of her daughter’s boyfriend. Then there is the abusive father who has a change of heart when the director wants it. It is all too convenient.  The piece de  resistance was the ‘ring scene’. I was wondering if all family members would be wearing the ring and if the girl had a sister instead of a brother, would she be wearing one too? For once, I did not understand the need to have a session at the shrink’s place as a venue for the flashback. Maybe producer Kkkkkkaran Johar can explain.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2014) [ IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 75%]

Anchorman 2 The Legend Continues

Trailer: 

If you have brain, leave it in the freezer. Know that you are going to watch a stupid film and know that stupidity has no limits. Get ready for jokes that don’t care about any niceties. Racist jokes, jokes on the blind and so on are the categories that will have benchmarks with this one film which makes no pretensions about what it wants to tell. Finally it boils down to a matter of taste. Watch a version of how 24 hour news channels came into being. Just for the gags.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Why We Fight (2005) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

Why We Fight (2005)

Trailer: 

Why Americans like going to war? Who wants America to go to war? A look at the powerful interests that drive the American war machine.

Eagerly Waiting for:‘Chef’ because it is a movie on food.

Did you know: The first Twilight is the only film in the series to not receive any Razzie Award nominations.

50 Weeks: 50 Movies

When I started this blog 50 weeks ago, I had never imagined that it would have readers from 73 countries and the average weekly readership would cross 70. For 49 weeks I have written ( at times, by burning midnight oil) about my experiences at the movies. The 50th week is a tribute to all the readers who found something worth reading here. For this edition I asked a reader who has read all previous 49 editions, for a list of that person’s 50 favourite movies. This edition is about those 50 movies.

1. Bucket List (2007) [ IMDB:7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 78%]

The Bucket List

The Plot: Two terminally ill men from dissimilar backgrounds go on a journey together and try to do everything they always wanted to do.

Trailer:

The Highlight: Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson team up. If for nothing else, the film is worth a watch for the energy they bring to the screen. It is for the same reason and the high expectations from such a film that the viewer may find a little underwhelmed at the end. Still, a very good watch.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “Everyone’s afraid to die alone.”

2. Insomnia (2002) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

insomnia

The Plot: Two top cops from Los Angeles are sent to a small town to investigate the death of a teen. The sting in the tale is that the sun does not set in the town.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Christopher Nolan’s early work saw a bunch of accomplished actors on screen but the real winner was the cinematography which set the right mood for the film. Even the small town feels like a character on screen. Its beauty and serenity are breathtaking but also add the suspense in the movie.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “I can’t judge. There are two kinds of people in Alaska: those who were born here and those who come here to escape something. I wasn’t born here.”

3. Sliding Doors (1998) [ IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 78%]

Sliding Doors

The Plot: How one event happening/not happening changes the course of a women’s life. The vicissitudes and glorious uncertainties of life.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Gwyneth ‘Conscious Uncoupling’ Paltrow who puts in her best performance after her Oscar winning performance in ‘Shakespeare in Love’.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “For God’s sake, Gerry. I asked you a simple question; there is no need for you to become Woody Allen.”

4. Shutter Island (2010) [ IMDB:8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 76%]

Shutter Island

The Plot: Set in 1954, the film purportedly shows the investigation to find out the location of a convict who has escaped from a mental asylum.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio team up to bring their most provocative story which requires multiple viewings to have a full debate on; a conclusive interpretation being a difficult goal. In the end the story does not matter. All that matters is how much of it is real.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “No assumption, no, not at all. You misunderstand me. I said, you are ‘men of violence’. I’m not accusing you of being violent men. That’s quite different.”

5. Scarface (1983) [ IMDB:8.3, Rotten Tomatoes:94%]

Scarface1

The Plot: An immigrant from Cuba builds his fortune in the world of crime and drugs in 1980s Miami.

Trailer:

The Highlight: Al Pacino shows once more time why he is one of the greatest actors ever.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.”

6. Groundhog Day (1993) [ IMDB:8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

Groundhog Day

The Plot: Bill Murray plays a weatherman who finds that he is living the same day again and again. The good thing is that he has Andie MacDowell for company.

Trailer:

The Highlight: It is a toast to the ordinary life which could be extraordinary if one lived it as if there is no tomorrow.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “I don’t deserve someone like you. But If I ever could, I swear I would love you for the rest of my life.”

7. The Help (2011) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

The Help

The Plot: At the height of the Civil rights movement, a young white woman decides to write a book on the light of African American maids and their perception of their masters.

Trailer:

The Highlight: Viola Davis in an illuminating performance.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Courage sometimes skips a generation. Thank you for bringing it back to our family.”

8. The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

The Greatest Game Ever Played

The Plot: A rank outsider wins against all odds at the 1913 US Open in golf, beating his idol on the way.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Nothing exceptional but once in a while the right cliches at the right time make the right kind of movie.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Let me tell you something. I came here to win a trophy. And on the face of it Ted Ray or I should carry it off. Not for you, not for England, but for sheer bloody pride at being the best, that’s why we do this. And if Mr. Ouimet wins tomorrow, it’s because he’s the best, because of who he is. Not who his father was, not how much money he’s got, because of who he bloody is! And I’ll thank you to remember that.

9. Snatch. (2000) [ IMDB:8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

Snatch

The Plot: A group of interesting characters join the hunt for a missing diamond.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Unbridled action, peppy dialogues and lots of style.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Yes, London. You know: fish, chips, cup ‘o tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary fucking Poppins… LONDON.”

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

Roman Holiday1

The Plot: An American newsman takes a princess on a trip of Rome on her day away from boring life.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Audrey Hepburn. William Wyler. Gregory Peck.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “I have to leave you now. I’m going to that corner there and turn. You must stay in the car and drive away. Promise not to watch me go beyond the corner. Just drive away and leave me as I leave you.”

11. American Gangster (2007) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]

American Gangster

The Plot: A detective trying his best to nab a drug lord.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: A simplistic story and an average performance from Russel Crowe are eclipsed by Denzel Washington in one of his best performances.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Success. It’s got enemies. You can be successful and have enemies or you can be unsuccessful and have friends.”

12. Kiss the Girls (1997) [ IMDB: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 64%]

Kiss the Girls

The Plot: A girl who survives a serial killer’s murder attempt holds the key to nabbing him.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Though there are enough loopholes in the movie, it is the sheer presence of Morgan Freeman that makes the film worth a watch.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “Multiply your anger by about a hundred, Kate, that’s how much he thinks he loves you.”

13. Match Point (2005) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 81%]

Match Point

The Plot: A married man falls for the girlfriend of his brother-in-law.

Trailer:

The Highlight: What you don’t expect from Woody Allen and what you absolutely expect from Scarlett Johansson.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “The man who said “I’d rather be lucky than good” saw deeply into life. People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It’s scary to think so much is out of one’s control.”

14. Blood Diamond (2006) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

Blood Diamond

The Plot: A few people in the illegal diamond trade in Africa and their stories.

Trailer:

The Highlight: The acting of DiCaprio and the nose of Jennifer Connelly.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Sometimes I wonder… will God ever forgive us for what we’ve done to each other? Then I look around and I realize… God left this place a long time ago.”

15. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) [ IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

Four Weddings and a Funeral

The Plot: A man discovers his true love over four weddings, one funeral and many other disasters.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Hopelessly romantic scenes and outrageously funny scenes. Also, Andie MacDowell.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “The truth is… well, the truth is, I have met the right person, and he’s not in love with me, and until I stop loving him, no one else really has a chance.”

16. Enemy at the Gates (2001) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

Enemy at the Gates

The Plot: Sometimes a man can inspire a whole nation. Russia found inspiration against the Germans in the form of sniper Vasily Zaytsev.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: True story. Truly inspiring.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “He isn’t dead, and do you know why? Because I haven’t killed him yet.”

17. Shakespeare in Love (1998) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

Shakespeare in Love

The Plot: Young Shakespeare who is in the doldrums, meets his love and this changes his life forever.

Trailer:

The Highlight: The germ of the idea and the way they brought that imagination to screen.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “All the men at court are without poetry. If they see me, they see my father’s fortune, I – will have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love. Love above all.”

18. Inglourious Basterds (2009) [ IMDB:8.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

Inglourious Basterds

The Plot: How about assassinating Nazi leaders during WWII by burning down the theatre when they are watching a movie?

Trailer:

The Highlight: It is fun to see Quentin Tarantino’s imagination run wild.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Because you’ve just given yourself away, Captain. You’re no more German than that scotch.”

19. Yentl (1983) [IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 75%]

Yentl

The Plot: A girl poses as a man so that she can be trained in religious studies.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Barbra Streisand, who is the only person to have won the Oscar, the  Grammy, the Emmy, the Tony, the Peabody and an AFI award.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line:”Why is it people who want the truth never believe it when they hear it?”

20. The Interpreter (2005) [ IMDB; 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 5.5]

The Interpreter

The Plot: Intrigue in the UN, with an interpreter being the unfortunate beneficiary of a discussion on an assassination plot.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: For a Sydney Pollack film starring Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman, this one disappoints but there are enough scenes which have edge of the seat stuff.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “Vengeance is a lazy form of grief.”

21. Gone with the Wind (1939) [ IMDB; 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

gone with the

The Plot: The US Civil War is the background for the doomed love story of a manipulative woman and a charming man.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: A great novel made into a great film with great music, great acting, great cinematography and great dialogues.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole, but is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail.”

22. Marvin’s Room (1996) [ IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 80%]

Marvin's Room

The Plot: The only hope for a leukemia patient is to get a bone marrow transplant from her sister, a sister who is estranged from her for two decades.

Trailer:

The Highlight: Some stirring performances from Streep, Keaton and DiCaprio.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Most of the time I just keep to myself. I think like what it would be like to be… someone else.”

23. The Last King of Scotland (2006) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

The Last King of Scotland

The Plot: How it was to be a confidante and physician of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

Trailer:

The Highlight: Acting lesson from Forest Whitaker.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “You deserve to die. But dead, you can do nothing. Alive, you might just be able to redeem yourself.”

24. The Tourist (2010) [ IMDB: 6.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 42%]

The Tourist

The Plot: Angelina Jolie walks into the life of Johnny Deep while he is on a vacation in Italy. Wish that was true.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: I can’ think beyond Angelina Jolie here.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “It’s the um… the Roman god, Janus. My mother gave it to me when I was little. She wanted to teach me that people have two sides. A good side, a bad side, a past, a future. And that we must embrace both in someone we love.”

25. Behind Enemy Lines (2001) [IMDB: 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 63%]

Behind Enemy Lines

The Plot: A pilot finds himself deep within enemy territory as his plane is brought down. He must escape from the area and time is a premium.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Spectacularly shot sequences.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “Everybody thinks they’re gonna get a chance to punch some Nazi in the face in Normandy, but those days are over. They’re long gone.”

26. Death Becomes Her (IMDB: 6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 61%]

Death Becomes Her

The Plot: A woman wants to be immortal because that is perhaps the only way she can upstage her competitor.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Meryl Streep and the unconventional idea that is there at the core of the movie.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line:”Wrinkled, wrinkled little star… hope they never see the scars.”

27. Road to Perdition (2002) [ IMDB:7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

road to perdition

The Plot: His son is the only hope for a hit-man who has fallen out of favour.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Some great dialogues and outstanding acting are not a patch on the sensational cinematography.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “I’m glad it’s you.”

28. My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) [IMDB:6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 74%]

My Best Friend's Wedding

The Plot: A woman realizes her love for her friend, a few days before his wedding.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Julia Roberts. Who else?

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line:”It’s amazing the clarity that comes with psychotic jealousy.”

29. Catch Me If You Can (2002) [ IMDB:8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

Catch Me If You Can

The Plot: A lonely master con artist and impersonator has a cat and mouse game with the FBI.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: The antics of the lead character so charmingly played by DiCaprio.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Dear Dad, you always told me that an honest man has nothing to fear, so I’m trying my best not to be afraid.”

30. Jurassic Park (1993) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

Jurassic Park

The Plot: An eccentric millionaire tries to recreate a park with dinosaurs using advancements in science.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Obviously, dinosaurs in starring roles.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line:”T-Rex doesn’t want to be fed. He wants to hunt. Can’t just suppress 65 million years of gut instinct.”

31. The Firm (1993) [ IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 75%]

the firm

The Plot: A lawyer in a young marriage joins a famous law firm. He then finds out that things are not what they seem to be.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Tom Cruise can also act.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line:”I get paid to be suspicious when I’ve got nothing to be suspicious about.”

32. Goodfellas (1990) [IMDB: 8.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

Goodfellas

The Plot: The rags to riches (through violence) story of a group of friends.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: The perfect blend of style and substance.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster. To me that was better than being president of the United States. To be a gangster was to own the world.”

33. Jackie Brown (1997) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

Jackie Brown

The Plot: An air hostess finds herself embroiled in the conflict between arms dealers and cops.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Guns and lots of it.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “You can’t trust Melanie but you can trust Melanie to be Melanie.”

34. The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) [IMDb:6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 73%]

The Mirror Has Two Faces

The Plot: Some people get married just to have sex. He gets married so as not to have it.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Jeff Bridges in a role you don’t expect him to be in.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “I don’t date these girls because they’re well-read. I gave one of them a copy of “Farewell to Arms”. She thought it was a diet book.”

35. The Aviator (2004) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]

The Aviator

The Plot: The eccentricities of the Hollywood insider Howard Hughes.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: DiCaprio. As I write this list I see a lot of great movies in which he has had pivotal roles. I hope he gets due recognition some day.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “You don’t care about money because you’ve always had it.”

36. Milk (2008) [ IMDB:7.7, Rotten Tomatoes; 94%]

Milk

The Plot: The story of gay rights activist Harvey Milk.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Sean Penn sealed his Oscar win with the title role.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “All men are created equal. No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words.”

37. The Untouchables (1987) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

The Untouchables

The Plot: Notorious gangster Al Capone has to be brought to justice but the problem is that he is well capable of buying out justice.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: When Kevin Costner upstages Robert DeNiro.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “You just fulfilled the first rule of law enforcement: make sure when your shift is over you go home alive. Here endeth the lesson.”

38. V for Vendetta (2005) [ IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

V for Vendetta

The Plot: The masked fighter and his friend take on a system of oppressive government.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Natalie Portman and her torture scenes.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: ” I’m not questioning your powers of observation; I’m merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.”

39. Inception (2010) [IMDB: 8.8, Rotten tomatoes: 91%]

Inception

The Plot: Set in the future, a man will get back what he lost if he performs the impossible.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: The Direction of Christopher Nolan. Shame on the academy for not nominating him at the Oscars.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “Because, in my dreams we are together.”

40. A Few Good Men (1992) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

A Few Good Men

The Plot: A court martial opens a can of worms.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Jack Nicholson owns the screen.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: ” You can’t handle the truth.”

41. Ladder 49 (2004) [ IMDB; 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 82%]

Ladder 49

The Plot: A firefighter’s life told in flashback as he awaits to be rescued before he dies.

Trailer:

The Highlight: Reel life heroes find time to act in a movie that tell the tales of real life heroes.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “People are always asking me how is it that firefighters run into a burning building when everyone else is running out. Courage is the answer.”

42. The King’s Speech (2010) [IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

The King's Speech

The Plot: A stuttering king has to inspire his nation in times of war. Some men are thrust into greatness and they learn to speak along the way.

Trailer:

The Highlight: Colin Firth who is otherwise very good with his dialogues, had to unlearn.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “If I’m King, where’s my power? Can I form a government? Can I levy a tax, declare a war? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority. Why? Because the nation believes that when I speak, I speak for them. But I can’t speak.”

43. The Holiday (2006) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 80%]

The Holiday

The Plot: An American and a Britisher swap homes during a vacation and find their respective partners.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: One of Nancy Meyers’ more accomplished works.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “You’re supposed to be the leading lady in your own life, for God’s sake!”

44. The Color Purple (1985) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

The Color Purple

The Plot: Adaptation of the classic novel on the life of an African American woman.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Shoddy direction by Steven Spielberg.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “The jail you planned for me is the one you’re gonna rot in.”

45. The Day of the Jackal (1973) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

The Day of the Jackal

The Plot: A conspiracy to kill the President of France.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: The coldness of the assassin.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “You have to employ a professional. Your organization is so riddled with informers that nothing you decide is a secret for long. No, the job would have to be done by an outsider. The only question would be by whom, and for how much.”

46. The Usual Suspects (1995) [ IMDB:8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

The Usual Suspects

The Plot: It must be easy to solve a crime when the suspects are limited and known. Or is it?

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Kevin Spacey can tell stories.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

47. My Cousin Vinny (1992) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%]

My Cousin Vinny

The Plot: Greenhorn Vinny has to defend his cousin in a murder trial in small town Alabama.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei make you laugh so much that your stomach hurts.

The Best Scene:

The Best Line: “Well I hate to bring it up because I know you’ve got enough pressure on you already. But, we agreed to get married as soon as you won your first case. Meanwhile, TEN YEARS LATER, my niece, the daughter of my sister is getting married. My biological clock is TICKING LIKE THIS and the way this case is going, I ain’t never getting married.”

48. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) [ IMDB: 8.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

The Silence of the Lambs

The Plot: A jailed serial killer is the only one who can help a young investigator reach another serial killer on the rampage.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Anthony Hopkins won the Best Actor Oscar for which his onscreen time was the least among all previous winners in the category.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”

49. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) [ IMDB: 9.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

The Shawshank Redemption

The Plot: How you can be good and still win.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: ‘Hope’, with voice over by Morgan Freeman.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.’

50. Good Will Hunting (1997) [ IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

Good Will Hunting

The Plot: An erratic genius needs the right kind of guidance. Two other geniuses fight over what should be the right kind of guidance.

Trailer: 

The Highlight: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck co-writing an original screenplay and winning an Oscar for it.

The Best Scene: 

The Best Line: “You’re not perfect, sport, and let me save you the suspense: this girl you’ve met, she’s not perfect either. But the question is whether or not you’re perfect for each other.”

 

Week 47

I am happy to report that accuracy levels for the last week’s predictions were way beyond my expectations. Congratulations to all the winners at the 2014 Oscars.

Movies: Non-English

Like Water for Chocolate (Mexico, 1993) [ IMDb: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

Like Water for Chocolate

Trailer: 

Considered a landmark in the history of Mexican cinema, this film tells the story of a man who is forced to marry the sister of the woman he is in love with. It is a lyrically told tale with moments where the director attempts to have scenes of magical realism. The performances are nothing to crow about. The way the story plays out and the twists and turns in the predictable family life make the film an interesting watch. The film remains one of the peaks of Mexican cinema. Highly recommended.

Bicycle Thieves (Italy, 1948) [IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

b_thieves_061609.pdf

Trailer:

Often cited as the greatest film ever to be made, this classic from Italy is a must watch for anyone with even a passing interest in great films and the history of cinema. It is a simple story of a man and his son in search of a cycle. What makes it a classic is the universal theme it deals with, which has stood the test of time and can be understood by the common man anywhere in the world. An absolute must watch.

Movies I Saw This Week

Oldboy (2013) [IMDB:5.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 44%]

Oldboy

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Based on the Korean film with the same title this film deviates from the original, with mixed results. (Spoilers Ahead) While this one is shot particularly well, it leaves some gaping holes in the plot. A man with a dubious character is kidnapped and imprisoned for two decades without him knowing the reason for the ordeal he is put through. While in confinement, his only reason for staying alive is his hope of seeing his daughter. The film has a small but significant shift in the climax which looks good but is not easily explained by facts. It does sound strange when a 20 million bounty is unnecessarily offered to the prisoner without any explanation of why he is at the receiving end of such a largess. It does neatly fit in towards the end but the ending is just too convenient. In all this, the prisoner shows no remorse for his actions and he continues with his pre confinement persona after release too. I guess many thugs like him would be happy to go through the ordeal if they were offered 20 million dollars.

Hasee Toh Phasee (India, 2014) [ IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 64%]

Hasee Toh Phasee

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The film is a genuine romantic comedy which falters severely towards the end. (Spoilers ahead) It is very difficult to understand why the director chose to go with Parineeti Chopra as the choice of the lead in the climax of the movie. It is evident that the protagonist had a strong seven year old relationship going with his fiancee and for him to leave her for a girl he meets after his engagement looks a dumb idea. This is augmented by the fact at no stage there are strong sparks between the hero and the new girl in his life, who also happens to be a runaway thief. The film has some really funny scenes and sharp dialogues but all the effort goes down the drain when the director chooses to go for the easy and conventional ending with lot of glycerin induced scenes thrown in. The acting is competent and the screenplay hold on its own for large parts but the songs are as stale as yesterday’s leftovers. Still, a one time watch.

Gunday (India, 2014) [ IMDB: 1.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 5%]

gunday_trailer_1

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Hell hath no fury like Bangladeshis scorned. ‘Gunday’ has been at the receiving end of Bangladeshi rage as mass voting from this country has made Gunday the worst rated film in the history of IMDB. ‘Gunday’ now occupies the unenviable position of the worst film in movie history going by popular sentiment. What has led to such negative reaction is the accusation of misrepresentation of the freedom struggle of Bangladesh. Bangladeshis have taken offence and responded with full vigour. As for the film, it is a triangular love story. It is a stock template of Bollywood movies and offers nothing new. The film is loud, boring and a total disaster. It has kids who think they are men and a spinster who thinks she is still a crowd puller. Come to think of it, this hated film hit the screens on Valentine’s day. The irony of it all.

Documentary Pick of the Week

The Armstrong Lie (2013) [ IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

Armstrong Lie

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For all those who are still in denial that Lance Armstrong was the biggest cheat in the history of sports, get your dose of reality from the man himself. Even the director’s attempts to save him fall flat. Must watch.

The : D Retrospective

My Fair Lady (1964) [ IMDB:7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

My Fair Lady

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A lady from a poor neighbourhood is picked up for a social experiment and groomed into a fine lady. Audrey Hepburn carries the film on her tiny shoulders and does it with remarkable success. It remains a mystery to me how the film landed up with eight Oscars because the best it could have hoped for was an invite to Hepburn to the Oscars. Watch it just for her.

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

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An underrated gem which earned a young Di Caprio his first Oscar nomination. The plot involves Johnny Depp who is burdened with a dysfunctional family and his attempts to break free are stifled. The film has a great ensemble acting performance with all the actors putting in memorable performances. A bittersweet tale which deserves a more wider audience.

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) [ IMDB:6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%]

under the tuscan

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An author buys a house in Tuscany in the spur of a moment. Over a long period of time many characters enter and leave her life and she keeps on searching for true love. Watch to find out if she does find love. Diane Lane is a dignified presence throughout the movie and her acting makes you root for her.

Eagerly Waiting For: ‘Blended’ because Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler think they are still good to be in romantic comedies.

Did you know: Following the tremendous success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the New Zealand government even created a Minister for Lord of the Rings, whose remit was to exploit all the economic opportunities the films represented.