Week 17

Movies: Non- English

Good Bye Lenin ! ( Germany, 2003) [IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%]

goodbye lenin

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIjSaHUKD5I

A mother in East Germany goes into a coma for 8 months. When she returns from it the doctors tell her son that she should not be subjected to any exciting or upsetting news. Not a big deal under normal circumstances but the circumstances are far from normal as East and West Germany happened to be unified when she was in the coma. To make matters worse, she happens to be a staunch supporter of East Germany. Now her son must go the extra mile to create an illusion of East Germany for his mother. The film tells the story of his efforts (often with hilarious results) at trying to achieve that. This heartwarming tale is as personal as it is political. In trying to recreate East Germany the film delves into what the change really means for the man on the street. It is a an easy watch. Recommended.

Infernal Affairs ( Hong Kong, 2002) [IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes; 95%]

infernalaffairs

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4R3nHkqyfM

This film from Hong Kong which is the original of ‘The Departed’ is so good that it is the only instance in the history of Academy Awards that the award for screenplay went to a film already made in another language. Made at a fraction of the cost of ‘The Departed’, it is considered by many to be better than the remake. The story revolves around a crime syndicate which has a mole in the police while the police also have their man inside the syndicate. The race is to find out who will expose the other first. Racy and with more twists than any movie in recent history, the film is told at a pace which will keep you at the edge of your seat. Crime has always interested me as a genre and if you share the interest, this is a must watch film.

Hollywood Retrospective

Citizen Kane (1941) [ IMDB: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes; 100%]

Citizenkane

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

If I had to make a list of movies to see before I die, ‘Citizen Kane’ would be in the top three. Words are not enough to describe this monumental piece of film making. No wonder that it has consistently (except for the last vote) topped the list of American Film Institute’s poll for the greatest movie of all time. Though made in 1941, it has never bored me on multiple viewings and each time I have discovered something new. Besides a great story told in the most engaging way, the movie was groundbreaking for the innovations in shooting and lighting it brought to the world of cinema. It was the first film to use ‘deep focus’ which is evident in the scene in which the child is seen playing outside the home as the parents discuss inside. It introduced many innovations including shots of the camera passing through objects and the sense of lighting in the film is unrivaled. The maniacal passion of Orson Welles is transformed onto the screen. The film was cruelly neglected at the Academy Awards due to pressure from businesses which were purportedly depicted in a poor light in the movie but with each passing year the film has gained in stature. The story is that of a business magnate who dies with his last word being ‘rosebud’. The film is a journalist’s attempt to decipher meaning of the word and this takes us on an biographical account of the protagonist. Don’t miss the greatest American film ever made.

The English Patient (1996) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%]

english patient

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

Winner of nine Oscars, ‘The English Patient’ is the closest to poetry in cinema. Each scene has been choreographed to perfection  so much so that even violence looks poetic. Unforgettable images which are too many to mention. The film is based on the international best selling novel by the same title. The story has been modified and ends before the novel ends. The effect of adapting from a well written novel is that the words are weighed before they are spoken. Not even a sentence is in excess. The film revolves around a spy who feigns memory loss when captured by Allies during the Second World War. Like him, all who deal with him are also going through the loss of their loved ones. The bed ridden spy who is awaiting his death has a passionate and ultimately doomed love story to tell. This is not the type of movie everyone will enjoy. It requires patience and heightened cinematic sensibilities to fully appreciate what is on screen. It is also one of the few movies which led me to despair at the unfolding human tragedy on screen. An absolute must watch in my opinion.

As good as it gets (1997) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

as good as it gets

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXHxg6Ug9GM

There are some movies which have so many good dialogues that you are willing to remember a few of them. “You make me want to be a better man” is one of the most romantic dialogues I have ever heard. The movies is not all soft and sweet. On being asked how he rates women so well, the novelist replies, ” I think of a man and then I take away reason and accountability.” The movie is the story of a misanthrope who has a soft core and who keeps away from people to avoid being hurt. I absolutely adore the dialogues in the movie but the best part is that all the characters are so well etched out and the casting is also good. Even the fringe characters have some really good lines. Again a must watch if you ask me.

Movies I Saw This Week

The Story of Luke (2012) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

The-Story-of-Luke-Poster-Social-EmptyNote

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3c6Jy5sHhc

An autistic young man’s efforts to be self reliant. The movies is an above average attempt and has good dialogues and acting. It does not have a triumphant tone or any sense of fatalism. It keeps things practical. With little more effort it could have been a really good movie. I am not complaining though.

D Day (India, 2013) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 69%]

D-Day-Movie-Poster-Pic-1

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

The idea of the movie germinated after the killing of Osama Bin Laden. If Americans can do it why can’t India get Dawood Ibrahim? The film explores the possibility of such an operation. Since the director is Nikhil Advani who has given only monumental flops after his debut hit ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’, I was expecting a pathetic film but I am happy to report that the film moves so quickly that it papers over the lack of logic until the climax where things get out of hand. Strictly a one time watch and that too if you like action thrillers.

Lootera (India, 2013) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 80%]

lootera-poster

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

Vikramaditya Motwane is a promising director whose debut film premiered at the Cannes. His second outing is visually rich but he seems to have sacrificed pace for creating a brooding romance which is painfully slow in most parts. Anyone who has read O Henry stories will be able to guess what is going on and what will happen. The movie has its heart in the right place. Wish the editor had the scissors in the right place too. Still, I would recommend this one as it is any day better than the masala movies which rule the roost in India.

G. I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) [ IMDB: 5.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 51%]

Gi-joe-retaliation-poster-1

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TPPWVoXBUk

What is the point? How many movies will they make like this before they sleep in the sand? The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Super Size Me (2004) [IMDB: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

supersize me

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1Lkyb6SU5U

One guy decides to eat only at McDonald’s for a month and tries to monitor how it affects his health. Quite entertaining. It also made McDonald’s change its menu. Now that is what I call an achievement. He also got nominated for an Oscar.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Prisoners’ because it has Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Did you know: Football legend Pele has acted in eight movies and written story for two of them.

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Week 7

Movies: Non- English

Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain, Mexico, 2006) [IMDB: 8.3/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 96% ]

pans-labyrinth-poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbffV5LZfZI

Spanish language writers were the ones to exploit magical realism through their books. It is therefore no surprise that the language is the medium for the movie which Roger Ebert calls ‘ a fairy tale for adults’. A girl creates her own world to escape the torment of the daily life in fascist Spain. Set in 1944, the special effects and imagery are some of the best you will see on screen. Think of  ‘Alice in Wonderland’ with more imagination thrown in. Now that is a tough thing to imagine. The easier option is to watch the movie.

Das Boot [The Boat] (Germany, 1981) [ IMDB: 8.4/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 98% ]

das boot

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxMXtofZny8

There would be very few war movies as authentic as this one. It follows the crew of a German submarine during the Second World War. There is no plot as such but the exhilaration of combat is in stark contrast to the monotonous, wretched and utterly lonely life on a submarine which slowly descends into a hell on earth. The movie is gritty and keeps you interested throughout. The performances are top notch and the cinematography gives you a good feel of the life inside a submarine. This one will make you spare a thought for the defeated and the dead.

Underground (Serbia, 1995) [ IMDB: 8.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 95% ]

underground

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKdl5r7_ZPc

A black comedy which shows the relationship between two friends over a few decades, effectively following the history of Yugoslavia. Some of the scenes are truly memorable, one particular one has animals from the zoo roaming the streets after the zoo is bombed. The film is a roller coaster with scenes where all hell breaks loose and things go on a spiral. A quirky masterpiece.

Hollywood Retrsopective

Rosemary’s baby (1968) [ IMDB: 8.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 98% ] 

rosemary's baby

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PewtQsgN5uo

A struggling actor makes a deal with the devil to resurrect his career, putting the lives of his family members at risk. Roman Polanski makes this chilling horror thriller out of the classic book by the same title. Mia Farrow gives the performance of a lifetime as the naive young wife. Roman Polanski movies have bleak endings (‘The Pianist’ being an exception) and this one also follows the general pessimism he shows towards life. Not recommended for pregnant woman.

Quiz Show (11994) [ IMDB: 7.5/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 96% ]

quiz show

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOSnYt9k4kM

It may come as no surprise in this era that one of the big television scandals of the 50s was a fixed quiz show. The film delves into questions of morality and how even some great minds can be be lured into committing crimes by the media. Ultimately, the show must go on but is quizzing like any other entertainment spectacle?

Movies I Saw This Week

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2009) [ IMDB: 7.1/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 67% ]

the girl who

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVGbPFdU96A

The final movie of the series is seriously short on content and tries to cover it up by the lightening pace. The girl with the dragon tattoo was much better. As for the plot, the girl has to be prove that she is innocent of the murders she is accused of committing even as she lies in a hospital bed. Wish what translated on screen was half as exciting as the written word.

Hyde Park on Hudson (2012) [IMDB: 5.7/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 38% ]

Hyde-Park-on-Hudson

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

A movie where the major question is whether the King of England will eat a hot dog, need not be taken seriously. I think they ran out of stories and had to make a film based on such a small issue. Don’t waste your time.

Identity Thief (2013) [IMDB: 5.6/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 59% ]

identity thief

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqQg6Rlt6W4

Plot from IMDB: Mild-mannered businessman Sandy Patterson travels from Denver to Miami to confront the deceptively harmless-looking woman who has been living it up after stealing Sandy’s identity

My verdict: This is the kind of movie for which the viewers should be allowed free entry into the cinema hall. They should then be asked to pay for getting out. Terrible.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Bobby Fischer Against The World (2011) [IMDB: 7.3/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 87% ]

bobby-fischer-against-the-world-movie-poster-2011-1020690243

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=strfK6rO0LI

Bobby Fischer had it all. He was the world champion in chess where he beat the Russians represented by Spasky in one of the most discussed match ups in sports. He won it for the free world in a war minus the shooting. Then he disappeared. Then he disintegrated. The amazing and tragic story of a champion whose greatest gift was his intelligence and whose Achilles’ heel was his paranoia.

Eagerly Waiting For: ‘Only God Forgives’ because everyone likes Ryan Gosling.

Did you know: Orson Welles was just 26 when he wrote and directed ‘Citizen Kane’, generally considered to be the greatest film ever to come out of Hollywood.