Edition 84

The Non-English Movie of The Week

Our Little Sister (Japan,2015) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes:93% , My Rating: 7.5 ]

Trailer

‘Our Little Sister’ tells the story of three sisters who take in their fourth sister they never knew they had. This Japanese tale is a quiet triumph and a joy to watch. It also gives an insight into the traditions and way of life in rural Japan. The movie is akin to a piece of music which flows unabated. There is a sublime sense of happiness pervading the movie even when it tackles more serious questions. For a film which could have ended in various ways, ‘Our Little Sister’ bows out with a dignity that is the hallmark of the feature. Highly recommended.

Movies I Saw This Week

Detroit (2017) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes:83% , My Rating: 8.5 ]

Trailer

I have thoroughly enjoyed previous movies of Katheryn Bigelow like ‘Hurt Locker’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ (One of the best movies of the decade). ‘Detroit’ surely lives up to the expectations. Based on a real life incident in Algiers Motel, Detroit during the race riots of 1967, ‘Detroit’ is a story which must be told. Exposing the deep fault lines within the American social fabric and raising pertinent questions on police criminality, the movie is an edge of the seat thriller. ‘Detroit’ never has a boring moment but it has plentiful moments of horror and sadness. All credit for the memorable movie is due to Bigelow who deftly handles a theme which could have failed miserably in the hands of a less competent director. Watching the movie itself is a harrowing experience which can question your belief in the idea of justice itself. For all its pains, the movie is a pleasure.

Mother! (2017) [IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes:68% , My Rating: 4.5 ]

Trailer

My emotion towards ‘Mother!’ has been summed up beautifully by Anthony Lane of the ‘New Yorker’; “If you gave an extremely bright fifteen-year-old a bag of unfamiliar herbs to smoke, and forty million dollars or so to play with, “Mother!” would be the result.” ‘Mother!’ is a movie which is an insult to the intelligence of the audience. It is pointless and manipulative even when discounted for the allegory it purportedly portrays. I had to search to find out what the heck all this posturing by the director was about. If you are interested, the idea behind the movie is explained in an article here. It does not exonerate the director who also wrote the screenplay. Jennifer Lawrence who rose to fame through Harvey Weinstein movies, puts in a solid shift. There is nothing redeeming about the movie. It is a self indulgent piece which should be played as torture to death row inmates.

1922 (2017) [IMDB: 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes:88% , My Rating: 7.5]

Trailer

Based on the Stephen King novella, ‘1922’ is a haunting movie. Though the omens point to a decline into tragedy, the events that follow are nothing short of terror. Dealing with the concept of guilt and retribution, this movie sucks in the viewer with its raw and relentless attack on the protagonist who is destined to disintegrate. This is one of the underrated flicks of the year. The only word of caution is to watch the movie with subtitles as the accent is dated and a tad difficult to pick up.

Logan Lucky (2017) [IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes:93% , My Rating: 7.0]

Trailer

Steven Soderbergh is one of the most talented directors of our generation. ‘Logan Lucky’ marks his return to form. A disparate group bound only by their love for the booty decide to rob NASCAR (nothing less!) on a race day. As is the case with every good heist movie, it is not the heist per se which is important but what happens afterwards. That is what makes the movie better than average. Surely, ‘Logan Lucky’ is not a masterpiece but it is a movie which does justice to your viewing time. Since half decent heist movies have been in short supply recently, this movie quenches the appetite for the time being. Recommended.

It (2017) [IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes:85% , My Rating: 7.0]

Trailer

Another movie based on the work of Stephen King, ‘It’ has been a smash hit at the box office. The reasons are not hard to miss. It has a bunch of kids at the centre of the story and deals with adult themes like identity and willpower. A murderous shape shifting demon needs to be tamed before it finds its new prey. All the usual Stephen King props are in play in this movie. Conquering the fear of the dark, first love, taming inner demons, unity in diversity, and some other simplistic ideas are thrown in to add weight to the movie. The only thing missing is a kid in spandex. Surely, ‘It’ is not a boring movie. Far from it, ‘It’ has its moments but otherwise it is a movie with a standard template which leave the viewer rather underwhelmed as the credits roll.

Better Watch Out (2017) [IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes:91% , My Rating: 7.0]

Trailer

What I loved about ‘Better Watch Out’ is the twist it gives to ‘Home Alone’. In fact, there are not so subtle references to the ‘Home Alone’ franchise in this thriller with a bad heart. A boy is left with his nanny when his parents are away. What unfolds initially is a horror movie but with a major turn in the story as it evolves. Even the ending of the movie holds a punch and leaves the door open for a sequel. ‘Better Watch Out’ is a bit of twisted fun and I am not complaining.

A Ghost Story (2017) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes:90% , My Rating: 5.5]

Trailer

With a remote in your hand you will need very small amount of time to watch this tedious and unrewarding drama. Surprisingly, some people did find this movie interesting. I found the movie to be absolutely one of the worst of the year with its fake ideas and positioning. It has all the ingredients of a brainless idea which got greenlit by the presence of some bankable stars. For the record, the movie concerns itself with afterlife and coping with grief. In this respect the movie does not attain salvation. To be more to the point, it needs to be buried deep in the ground.

The Foreigner (2017) [IMDB: 7.2., Rotten Tomatoes:75% , My Rating: 6.5]

Trailer

Apparently, Jackie Chan has cried twice in his movies before. The third time is in ‘The Foreigner’ and this time you will join in his pain. Even in a movie where Pierce Brosnan has more screen time and better dialogues, Jackie Chan stands out as the 60 year old father who has lost everything and wants to avenge his daughter’s death. Though the politics of the movie is dubious and some parts are a stretch of imagination, the movie is written well enough to keep the viewer engaged till its predictable climax. The worldwide box office of more than a 100 million USD shows that the audiences also seem to approve the first real acting turn by superstar Jackie Chan.

Ingrid Goes West (2017) [IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes:86% , My Rating: 6.5]

Trailer

In times such as this where social media acts as an alternative to the real world, ‘Ingrid Goes West’ is a timely reminder of how far things can go wrong in the cyberspace. The lead character’s manic obsession of the number of likes she receives and the number of followers she has, leads to her losing her footing in the real world. As she gets close to an ‘influencer’ by crook, her obsession spirals out of control. ‘Ingrid Goes West’ tells that story and does it with panache. My only grouse is that the ending was unnecessarily saccharine sweet.

Documentary of the Week

Blue Planet 2 (2017) [IMDB: 9.8, Rotten Tomatoes:89% , My Rating: 10.0]

Trailer

Wow! Just wow. All the beauty in the world like never before. Educational, informative and entertaining. Must watch.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Phantom Thread’ because it is the swansong of Daniel Day Lewis.

Did you know: Shashi Kapoor had more films as the protagonist than any other member of the Kapoor clan. RIP Shashi Kapoor.

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Week 6

Movies –  Non-English

The Lovers of the Arctic Circle (Spain, 1998) [ IMDB: 7.6/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 92% ]

lovers_of_the_arctic_circle

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGuV50q0Kp4

Stylishly shot romantic film which is a bit twisted. For all those who believe in love at first sight. It is rather funny how the same incident is strikingly different when recollected by a man and then by a woman. A story in which everything happens in circles which basically means that nothing ends, including love. As The New York Times put it, ‘madly romantic’.

Days of Glory (Algeria, 2006) [IMDB: 7.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 82%]

Days of Glory

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_EuwDYfA-M

The only movie I know which made a government revisit its laws and rightly restore their rights to African soldiers who fought under the French flag in the Second World War. I had seen this movie in New Delhi during a film festival and it left a lasting impression. The movie has some excellent scenes as is evident in the trailer but what stands out is the style of movie making. The movie evidently has a grouse against the French government but the story telling is at times so engaging that you stop paying attention to it. The story follows the life of four African men who fight to liberate France from Nazi oppression. The movie received a standing ovation at the film festival when I saw it.

Life is Beautiful (Italy, 1997) [IMDB: 8.5/10, Rotten tomatoes: 96%]

life is

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16RZHqCIy9M

I am putting this movie here because if you have not seen it, you should probably start watching foreign language movies with this one. Undoubtedly, a masterpiece which will leave you happy but with a tinge of sadness. It tells the story of a Jewish family who end up in a concentration camp. Humour is the last thing you will look for in a concentration camp but the father must resort to every trick he can pull to keep his son’s spirit up.  It is an original piece of work with some of the most creative scenes ever. One of the saddest scenes I have scene on screen is when the father goes to meet his patron at the dinner in the hope of finding an escape from the camp and what ensues. ‘Life is Beautiful’ will easily walk into any movie list for the best movies ever made.

Hollywood Retrospective

A Christmas Story (1983) [ IMDB: 8.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

a christmas story

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

One of the cutest films ever made that will take you back to your childhood. A kid wants a gift for Christmas. That is the story of the movie but then it is Christmas and there are lot of things that are bothering his parents. The acting is almost perfect and more than anything you are swept off your feet by the simplicity of the movie. Definitely the best movie on Christmas.

Bananas (1971) [IMDB: 7.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

bananas

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xyqm-wWnX0A

Woody Allen’s little known gem. Hilarious to the hilt. Uproariously funny. Only Woody Allen can come up with insane ideas and then make it look respectable on screen. The best political satire I have seen on the big screen.

Movies I Saw This Week

Side Effects (2013) [IMDB: 7.2/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 85% ]

side

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFEou3MBLi4

A genuine thriller. What starts as a drama on the pharma industry soon turns into a thriller. The story revolves around a young woman who has unexpected side effects after taking pills prescribed by her doctor. Writing more about it is difficult without giving hints about the story. Certainly one of the better films of 2013.

I Give It a Year (2013) [IMDB: 6.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 63%]

i give

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od8DhL1hyfw

Tries too hard to be funny but it does have some funny moments. It is usually the oddball characters who spice up a comedy but here they are more irritating than funny. After a point the jokes get tedious. The title and story are derived from the fact that the movie maps the first year of a marriage. An average attempt.

Restless (2011) [IMDB: 6.6/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 50%]

rest

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EnEBEZNkB4

Terminally ill girl meets a boy who likes attending funerals. A theme that has been done to death. Gus Van Sant’s weakest film in years. The movie literally bores you to death. Acting is insipid and most of the scenes are tasteless. Trying to get some intellectual gravitas by having a kamikaze pilot is the most pathetic plot device I have seen in a long time.

Go Goa Gone (2013) [IMDB: 7.2/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 55%]

go goa

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4V5zGNVRmaE

The early voting patterns at IMDb are usually unreliable for wide releases. It holds true for this movie too where things start promisingly but then tapers off like all the previous ventures by the director duo. There are some funny dialogues in the beginning but then it gets too dry even to interest zombies. It must be said that the producers deserve a pat on their back for putting their money on an unconventional idea.

Documentary pick of the week

Capturing the Friedmans (2003) [IMDB: 7.9/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

captu

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVY4ehqJjAA

A family which seems like any other is rocked to its core when two of its members are arrested for horrible crimes. The title is a pun. The story is sad. The documentary is a must watch.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Captain Phillips’ because it has Tom Hanks.

Did you know: Cutthroat Island (2005) is the biggest flop movie ever according to ‘The Guinness Book of World Records’. Adjusted for inflation, it lost $ 146 million.