The Non-English Movie of The Week
The Auschwitz Report (Slovakia, 2021) [IMDB: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, My Rating: 7.5]
The horrors of the holocaust are well documented, as is the fact that Nazis are deservedly the supervillains in Hollywood. It is no small feat to find freshness in a subject that has been looked at from every angle possible. Still, this movie is a fine watch and an uncomfortable one at that. The horrors of Auschwitz are captured in previously undiscovered ways and the second half of the movie is a survival film in the genre of ‘The Pianist’. Two Slovakian Jews put their life on the line trying to tell the world what really happens in the concentration camp. The movie is also a timely reminder of how hate makes men do horrible things. Among the highlights of the film is the scene in which the Nazi officer asks a prisoner where he will be after the war.
Movies I Saw This Week
Nowhere Special (2021) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, My Rating: 8.5]
This is a special movie. It is tender, emotional and empathetic without being exploitative. I’m sure that I will remember this movie for a long time to come. It has excellent acting and character development. Most importantly, it has its heart in the right place. The film is about a single father, who has only few months to live, trying to find a home for his four year old son. I have not been able to put my finger to it but there is something special in this film that is hard to pin down. Must watch.
Pig (2021) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, My Rating: 7.5]
Nicolas Cage has acted in many bonkers films in the last decade. Most of his forays into acting during this period have been absolute duds. There are exceptions and ‘Pig’ falls into this category. At his finest, Cage reminds us of his screen presence and acting chops. He plays a recluse who has a truffle hunting pig. The pig goes missing one day and Cage comes back to civilization in pursuit of the pig. The thing about good films is that they are inevitably very easy to pick up. They literally smell of goodness. ‘Pig’ smells good.
CODA (2021) [IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, My Rating: 8.0]
The moment CODA starts you can predict how it is going to end but you would be surprised how good the ride is. CODA (Child Of Deaf Adults) tells the story of a girl who is the only one in her family who can speak or hear. This is not a groundbreaking film but it has a terrific screenplay and lots of laughs. The best thing about this movie is that it never looks absurd or preachy. In fact, it hits the sweet spot delivering a poignant message about love, family and life in general. One of the best films of the year.
The Power of the Dog (2021) [IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, My Rating: 7.5]
Jane Campion is one of the best directors around. She delivers another powerhouse of a film to her glittering career. The film centres around the relationship between two brothers who are temperamentally poles apart. When the elder brother decides to marry a widow whom the younger brother has insulted, the strength of the relationship is tested like never before. The movie is beautifully shot and transports the viewer to another era. Special mention should be made for the cinematography and set decoration. The actors put on good performances with Benedict Cumberbatch probably at his best ever. If you like a drama with a twist, this one is for you.
The Night House (2021) [IMDB: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, My Rating: 6.0]
‘The Night House’ had my attention for the most part but the explanation at the end for what was going on till then is muddled at best. Rebecca Hall plays Beth who is coming to terms with the sudden suicide of her husband. She also has visions of a sinister presence in her house. Her effort to understand the puzzle and perhaps solve it forms the rest of the story. Rebecca Hall carries the whole film on her more than capable shoulders and there is enough to keep you engaged right till the end. If you watch this movie, you may find it engrossing but there are too many loose ends to make the climax convincing.
Dream Horse (2021) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, My Rating: 7.0]
Want to watch a movie which is all about the triumph of the human (or shall we say animal) spirit? A movie where the underdog must win. A movie where the community matters and the camaraderie is the highlight of the film. Again, from the first frame you know that ‘Dream Horse’ can have no ending other than a crowdpleasing one. The movie is a textbook take on the underdog story with success coming against all odds. To lend authenticity to the plot, the film is based on a true story of some Welsh villagers going through a rough time finding hope in a horse they hope will win them the Grand National. You get the drift. Now comes the important bit. They do this quite well. This is a geunine feel good movie even if you have seen it all before.
Old (2021) [IMDB: 5.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 50%, My Rating: 5.0]
Shyamalan is a victim of his own success in ‘Old’ where he is compelled by the need to come up with a twist in the tale at the end. The unfortunate part is that by the time the end comes, you would not be bothered by the big reveal because the film has so many plot holes that you would be better off counting the dots on a polka dot dress. ‘Old’ plays out as a parody of itself for the most part. The dumb blonde must die in the most sordidly comical fashion while the kids do all the growing up in front of their horrified parents. ‘Old’ if you notice, is a cheap movie to make. There is nothing about the background to the story and certainly no characters you can relate to. The movie takes the view that the viewer will not have the time to pause and think about the absurdity of what happens on the screen. ‘Old’, I’m sure, will not age well.
The Paper Tigers (2021) [IMDB: 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, My Rating: 7.5]
Three Kung Fu friends who were a big deal in their heydeys get together to solve the mystery of their master’s death and also discover that they are no more the aces they were. The movie is a mix of average action and good comedy. It is about relatable characters who find meaning in their togetherness. The film does not go into out and out action mode intentionally as the focus is on delivering a story and remaining light on the Kung Fu aspect. Kung Fu is mined for some laughs, especially the ones featuring the white American who is more Chinese than the Chinese themselves. Overall, a nice movie.
Cry Macho (2021) [IMDB: 5.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 60%, My Rating: 4.0]
Clint Eastwood is a legend. He is not helping his cause dishing out movies like ‘Cry Macho’ which corrode the stature of the man who embodies the hero of Western movies and who has helmed many classic movies. ‘Cry Macho’ is the latest evidence that Clint Eastwood should consider riding into the sunset of his movie career. He plays an oldie asked to return a favour by bringing back the son of his friend from Mexico back to the US. In a plot which promises nothing, the acting is ham, the characters are ludicrous, the direction is decidedly B-grade and the set pieces are amateurish. Eastwood goes for the old trick in the book (watch Indian movies for more info) where old men reassure themselves by casting women half their age who fall for them. Why would any girl fall for a walking skeleton in this movie? Clint Eastwood is 91 years old. He still thinks he is 19. Thank you but no thank you.
Documentary of the Week
Val (2021) [IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, My Rating: 7.5]
Val Kilmer talks about his life in this candid documentary. The best part is that he documented practically every second of his life with his camera. This obsessive behavious spills into his personal and professional life with unseemly consequences.
Eagerly waiting for: ‘Red Notice’ starring Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot and The Rock
Did you know: ‘Squid Game’ is the most watched series in Netflix’s history. The runner up is ‘Bridgerton’. If you watch ‘Squid Game’, watch episode 6 (Marbles). I thought that it was a great one hour of entertainment.