Movies: Non- English
The Lives of Others [Germany, 2006] (IMDB: 8.5/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]
In what was East Germany, the secret police starts monitoring a writer. As time passes, the observer becomes interested in his subject’s life. With one of the best climaxes ever, ‘The Lives of Others’ is a modern day masterpiece. The cherry on the cake is that it is the director’s debut feature film. It remains one of the highest grossing foreign language films in India where it played many houseful shows in places like Mumbai. Made with a paltry budget of 2 million dollars, it is also a lesson that money is not what makes a great movie. It is also a timely reminder that the political situation may change but even countries shouting from the rooftop about civil liberties have secret surveillance programs. George Orwell must be smiling in his grave.
The Hunt (Denmark, 2012) [IMDB: 8.2/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]
Mads Mikkelsen is an actor at the top of his game now. He is the closest to a Danish superstar in Hollywood. ‘The Hunt’, for these reasons is his one man show all the way. He plays a man trying to piece together his life when it is given an almost lethal blow by the accusations of a girl child. From a popular man he turns a social outcast overnight. I like characters who hold on to their dignity in the most adverse circumstances and fight their way back. This is one such story. Watch out for sequences in the supermarket and church. If you are looking for lighthearted stuff, this is not the film you are looking for.
The Legend of 1900 (Italy, 1998) [IMDB: 7.9/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]
A decade after sweeping the viewers off their feet with ‘Cinema Paradiso’, the director returned with a movie that left the critics and audiences in opposite poles. This is evident in the IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes ratings by the audience which gives the movie a very favourable score. The critics roundly panned the film which is reflected in its 54% rating by critics at Rotten Tomatoes. The bone of contention is how to treat the movie. Whether to take it as a normal story or as a fable because if you are not willing to buy the fable argument you will find yourself on the side of the critics. Matters are not helped by the indifferent acting by the lead character. The story (or the fable, if you like it that way) is about a pianist who spends most of his life on a ship. I am not a great admirer of the film but there is one magical scene when the pianist almost skates with his piano on the ship. Also, some great music by the maestro Ennio Morricone. Decide for yourself whether it was a misadventure or a film waiting for the right viewer.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) [IMDB: 8.8/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]
One of the reasons why I continued watching movies is because I was fortunate to have started with some of the best films ever made, the kind of movies which are truly unforgettable. The kind of movies which you won’t mind watching again and again. ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ is one of the only three movies ever to have won the Academy Award for the best picture, actor, actress, director and screenplay. The character of nurse Ratched was once voted the best villain in the history of cinema. The movie will always be there in my top 5 of all time. All these are minor details. The point is, there are no words to describe what a momentous film it is. Trust me. Just watch it. Could make you a better person.
A Clockwork Orange (1971) [IMDB: 8.4/10, Rotten Tomatoes:92%]
Stanley Kubrick’s masterclass in film making. Not for women. Not for the weak. Not for the peace loving. With apologies to Beethoven. Government programme in a futuristic society for creating better individuals does not go according to plan. When this movie was made, it was ahead of its time. Even after all these years, the same can be said of it. Don’t take it to heart. You will be shocked. A better way will be to look at the craft of film making and storytelling which will help you understand why Stanley Kubrick was a genius film maker.
Movies I Saw This Week
The Lookout (2007) [IMDB: 7.1/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]
This is the kind of film where you have a premonition that everything will turn out just perfect by the time it finishes. The difference between that and watching a predictable film is that you don’t know how you are going to get to that climax. A young man recovering from a terrible tragedy becomes a pawn in a heist plan. How he changes the narrative to be the last man standing forms the crux of the story. It is definitely not a masterpiece as the blurb says but it is worth a watch. Well written.
Strange Wilderness (2008) [IMDB: 5.1/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 35%]
The film is so bad that it is good. There are too many scenes and dialogues that will make you laugh for all the wrong reasons. If you have absolutely nothing to do and can take the stupidity the film wants to sell, you can have a look. Don’t blame me though. I warned you.
Looper (2012) [IMDB: 7.6/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]
Time travel is one of those ideas which has its band of believers. Once in a while you have movies based on the concept. Here the writer wants to look at what happens to hit-men if time travel was possible. I find such concepts a little difficult to swallow. Otherwise, the film is engaging primarily because when time travel is possible you can solve things by changing the past or the future. If you are a thriller fan, this one is worth the adrenaline rush.
The Maiden Heist (2009) [IMDB: 6.1/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 35%]
I guess Morgan Freeman made a lot of money and had no exciting work to do. So he produced this dud and also thought of acting in it. A security staff at a gallery literally falls in love with a painting that he is willing to steal it when he learns that the painting is being shifted to another country. So he hatches a plan to do exactly that. Excited? Well, what follows is a big yawn as the oldies can’t make it funny or exciting. I would have told the guy to make a print of the painting and spare me the pain of watching the movie.
Documentary Pick of the Week
Exit Through The Gift Shop (2010) [IMDB: 8.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]
A journey to uncover the notoriously undercover street artists. Quirky, entertaining and certainly worth your time.
Eagerly Waiting For: ‘Runner, Runner’ because it is Ben Affleck’s next.
Did you know: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon wrote the screenplay for ‘Good Will Hunting’ for which they also won the Oscar.