Week 31

Movies: Non-English

Talk to Her (Spain, 2002) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

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Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNdzcTZUW54

One of the most thought provoking movies I have ever seen, ‘Talk to Her’ raises questions about what is right and wrong. This is one of those movies where Pedro Almodavar indulges himself and the effect is that there are many memorable scenes which blend in with a twisted but ultimately provocative story line. The story revolves around two men who care for two women when they are in a comatose state. The film is a little on the heavy side and if you are looking for a light film, this is exactly the movie you shouldn’t be watching. Otherwise, a classic. Two thumbs up.

Offside (Iran,2006) [IMDb: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

offside1

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xF029bEi00

People in many countries don’t realize the liberty and freedom they have. It is when you get to know really strange stuff that you start to appreciate what you have always taken for granted. For example, women in Iran are not allowed entry into sporting events featuring men. How regressive are those notions which make people enforce such laws? In this film by dissident Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi, he exposes the duplicity of the state. A few women cross dress to gain access to a soccer match featuring the Iran national team. The film dwells on what happens to them. The thing with Iranian films is that they are made on really tight budgets and do not have the funds to rely on technology to tell the story. So they must have a good story to tell and they need to tell it in an engaging way. This movie is a lesson on those very essential qualities that make a good Iranian movie.

English Retrospective

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) [IMDB: 9.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

Good_the_bad_and_the_ugly_poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13EUXqIwDkQ

If you have not seen this one, you have not seen anything. Absolutely riveting movie experience enhanced by the assured direction of Sergio Leone and the unforgettable music of Ennio Morricone.  Genre defining Western which has also been beautifully shot. This movie is better than all the high praise you have ever heard for this movie. Watch before you die.

Walk the Line (2005) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

walk-the-line

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

I am not going overboard when I say that this is the best movie on a musician ever made. Here the subject of analysis is Johnny Cash, the legendary singer-songwriter. His music was as peppy as his personal life. Together they made him a powder keg waiting to explode on to the stage. His roller coaster ride as a person and as a musician is explored in this engaging drama. Watch it if you love music; any sort of music.

Into the Wild (2007) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

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Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LAuzT_x8Ek

Christopher McCandless abandons the world after graduation to seek the thrill of living in the Alaska wild. Based on a non fiction bestseller, this feature by Sean Penn tries to sell the romantic notion of an exotic life free from all worldly pleasures. I have not been really convinced by the idea. My opinion on McCandless is that he was (notice the past tense) an amazingly courageous but incredibly naive person. I recently read an article which says that in his final days he might have accelerated his death by consuming poisonous plants when he was out in the wild. The film is a breeze and conveniently skips the moral questions to give a truly uplifting film which makes it a good one to watch. Reality may be little more grey but I shall raise a toast to the traveler who chose to take the road less traveled.

Movies I Saw This Week

The Kings of Summer (2013) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%]

kings of

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cio8LOCZPzw

Three friends who are fed up of their parents decide to build a home and stay in the wild. The movie is visually vibrant with the colours of nature splashed all over it. It has some hilarious scenes and the pushy parents come out quite good. It is a story of growing up, standing on your own feet and discovering the real self within you. The movie does slow a bit in the middle. My only grouse is that it does not push the envelope. Otherwise, a really good film to watch.

The East (2013) [ IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 75%]

east

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VZpeoQsQ1w

‘The East’ starts off on a very promising premise. It has a vigilante group taking on big corporations for their wrong doings. A private spy is sent in to infiltrate the group and through her we learn more about the reasons for the existence of the group. There are some standout moments, like the dinner scene with hands of the diners tied. The movie could have been much better but at the precise moment when the choice was to go and soar or find the easy escape route, the writers choose the latter. Still, I recommend this flick as a one time watch.

The Sapphires (2012) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

sapphires

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2Ty4r6mvgg

I discovered this movie by accident and I have no idea why this is not a more widely seen and discussed movie. This one has a very good story to tell and it is told in a way which justifies that story. In this film based on actual events, four Australian aboriginal girls form a music group and get a chance to entertain US troops fighting in Vietnam. They are aided by a quirky and knowledgeable manager. The movie tells their story without forgetting the deep political undertones and simmering racial tensions. Definitely worth a watch.

Krrish 3 (2013) [ IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 60%]

krrish 3

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCCVVgtI5xU

I love writing about mainstream Hindi movies. I can have a good laugh and think of new ways to pan movies and the best thing is that Bollywood always gives enough material for this. Here we have a villain who shows his class by stealing ice cream from cones. The superhero is facing a job crisis because he cannot find enough time for his job after saving the world. Does ‘Spiderman 2’ ring a bell? The father and son go to work and save the world on a daily basis while the daughter in law reads news they create. The father speaks like he never grew up even when articulating grandiose plans to improve the lot of humankind. There are less raindrops falling in Cherrapunji than there are loopholes in this film. I almost forgot to mention that the superhero loves kids. I have only one thing to say ‘Thank You Shaktimaan’. No comments for Vivek Oberoi as the main villain. Like his ice cream stealing counterpart, he is also food obsessed. How else could he get the knife from the bread to slash his dad? I am also fed up.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Sicko (2007) [IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

sicko

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TohajYzut7Y

A damning indictment of the US medical system. Michael Moore style. Must see.

Eagerly Waiting for:’Oldboy’ because the original was too good.

Did you know: Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier of Monaco at the peak of her career and bid adieu to acting.

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Week 16

Movies: Non- English

Nine Queens (Argentina, 2000) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

nine queens

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

Classic con movie. The best thing I like about this one is that the guy who gets conned never gets to know that he has been conned. In the numerous remakes of this movie that I have seen in other languages, they could not resist telling the guy that he has been conned. For such reasons and more, this original version in Spanish is a better attempt. It shows great restraint in its storytelling, slowly building a jigsaw puzzle which fits perfectly at the end. It also metes out justice in the old fashioned way without violence, concurrently taking care of the bad guys. The story is simple: Two guys try to make a quick buck through forgery but then all is not what it seems. Some best laid plans work like the way they were planned.

The Intouchables (France, 2011) [IMDB: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

Intouchables

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34WIbmXkewU

Genuine crowd pleasing movie which tells the story of a bond which develops between a physically challenged man and his caretaker who are from the opposite ends of the social spectrum. Based on a true story, it tells the adventures, camaraderie and insecurities both of them share. The medical condition is not a hindrance for them when they decide to see the world and experience it with full vigor. Similar to ‘The Class’ reviewed last week, it also throws the spotlight on the challenges facing French society. The acting is laudable and the whole mood is encapsulated by the background score which rises to the occasion. Still, it is a light film to watch with some really good scenes. How about being escorted by the police to reach the destination instead of being fined when caught for over speeding?

Hollywood Retrospective

Garden State (2004) [IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

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Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u82n0e1mgmQ

One of the best romantic comedies I have ever seen, this debut feature from Zach Braff was one of the surprise hits of 2004. The writing is sharp and the acting does justice to it. The premise for the story is the return of the protagonist to his hometown to attend his mother’s funeral. The unconventional characters he meets on his return home and how he finds his lady love form the rest of the story. It is told with the freshness of morning dew. There are many remarkable scenes but the one I like the most is the one in the swimming pool when the girl swims towards the guy; it says so much without a word being spoken. If you are a fan of romantic comedies, this is a must watch.

Doctor Zhivago (1965) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%]

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Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAWrXTn5Www

Epic, in the sense of a cinematic experience, has few parallels like David Lean’s adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s classic ‘Doctor Zhivago’. The story in its essence tells how the lives of ordinary people are changed forever by events of far reaching historical significance. Doctot Zhivago who is a happily married man has his life turned upside down after a chance meeting with one of his patients. What follows is a saga of love and passion with the Russian Revolution in the background. The imagery is breathtaking and the music is one of the best in the history of cinema. It is a pity that neither David Lean for direction nor Omar Sherif for acting won the Academy award but the film did win 5 of them. At the risk of sounding immodest, I must say that if you have not seen this film then you have not seen one of the greatest movies ever made.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) [ IMDB: 8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

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Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJfZaT8ncYk

There are few movies which fit the bill ‘timeless’ and this is one of those. Looking for a film of hope and optimism? This is the one. A man is shown how he brings joy and happiness to the people around him and how life would be for them without him. It is a little strange to see that such progressive films were made in the days of the studio system but with such shackles removed it is impossible to make such a movie now. Moreover, this film could be called socialist by today’s standards in USA. The film is a James Stewart show all the way. Recommended viewing for all types of people from all age groups. After all, it’s a wonderful life.

Movies I Saw This Week

The Best Offer (2013) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

best offer

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJGleGyahC8

This is perhaps the most engaging film to have come out in 2013 and most of the viewers will find it absolutely spell binding but the issue with someone like me is that I have unfortunately watched too many movies to figure out the only possible ending to the movie. Nevertheless, it is one of the best made thrillers of 2013 and looks authentic. Ennio Morricone’s music is testament to the fact that some things get better with age. The story is that of an art auctioneer who is at the top of his game but has issues dealing with women. He meets a young lady who is looking to auction off her collection. What follows is a mix of intrigue and treachery. I cannot say more without revealing the story but the film is definitely worth a watch and has the most costly love making scene of all time. That was a clue to the story. Just watch it.

Only God Forgives (2013) [ IMDB: 6.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 48%]

only god forgives

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reIxnLrtY5g

The film from the director of ‘Drive’ has Ryan Gosling as a drug dealer in Bangkok. It also has a story which is told between scenes of torture. The scenes are so violent and self serving that you will look away from the screen because you will slowly get used to the fact that the next shot will involve blood oozing out of the body. The movie may have been made with the intention of catering to the film festival audience and it is no coincidence that it premiered at Cannes. It is a kill fest with opposite groups trying to find and hunt down people even remotely connected to a crime. I will never be able to enjoy karaoke singing again if I were in Bangkok. The saying goes; Those who live by the sword die by it. Here that is not the case.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (India, 2013) [ IMDB: 8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

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Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nR9JS2WsNg

Milkha Singh is a legend in Indian sports and his story is a one that must be told but not for 3 hours with numerous songs including the mandatory army song. I have never understood why films showing army life in Hindi movies must have a song with the soldiers dancing. Such minor irritants aside, this is a film worth a watch. I so wish that Indian film makers can make inspiring movies and not confuse slow motion with inspiration. Farhan Akhtar has put in a sincere effort but nothing to sing high praises of. As an aside, the 400 m race at the Rome Olympics is considered by many as the greatest ever race in modern Olympic history because the first 4 runners broke the world record in existence before the race. Unfortunately for Milkha, he happened to be the fourth one, missing the medal by a whisker. It is a commentary on the state of Indian athletics that it took almost 40 years for someone to break the record created by Milkha in Rome in 1960. I hope that they make movies on Vishwanathan Anand, P T Usha, Prakash Padukone, Sushil Kumar and others.

Assault on Wall Street (2013) [IMDB: 6.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 47%]

assault

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Y-NqShTj5w

One guy who loses everything in the financial crisis and blames the Wall Street for it takes law (read ‘gun’)  into his hands and tries to settle scores by taking down who he thinks is responsible for his plight. The film tries to channel the anger of the population against big banks and funds in the aftermath of the financial crisis and the bailout programmes. The film is remarkable for its naivety but it also has some biting dialogue especially the one which aims at the big names in American history who made the most amount of money. If you are very angry with the Wall Street this film may help you as it shows one guy taking up guns for you. Otherwise, don’t even bother.

Documentary Pick of the Week 

Bowling for Columbine (2002) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

bowling

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

The only documentary to have ever won the Palme D’or at Cannes, ‘Bowling for Columbine’ is an essential watch for anyone trying to figure out why USA is such a trigger happy nation. Absolute must watch.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Jobs’ because it is the story of Steve Jobs and it could be either very good or very bad.

Did you know: Agatha Christie’s ‘Mousetrap’ has not been made into a movie till now because the movie rights were sold under the condition that the film will be made only after the play stopped performing. It so happens that ‘Mousetrap’ which started as a play in 1952 is still going strong.