Another Round (Denmark, 2020)[IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, My Rating: 7.0]
The Danes have the worst record for alcohol consumption in the Scandinavian region. The movie is an exploration of the way of life in Denmark and how profoundly alcohol affects the social and personal life of people. The story is about a group of school teachers who want to experiment with low consumption of alcohol to test a theory that a small amount of it in the blood in fact has significant advantages for the sense of well being. Mads Mikkelsen is the leader of the group. The story evolves as one would expect it to with no major surprises. The director is in complete control of the proceedings. I was left confused by what the movie wants to convey. Is it that alcohol affects different people differently or is it that small amounts are fine or further still, alcohol is addictive and bad for health.
Movies I Saw This Week
Nomadland (2020)[IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, My Rating: 7.5]
A woman (Frances McDormand) whose life changes because of the 2008 economic crisis and the death of her husband, decides to lead her life by traveling and living around the country in a van. She supports herself with temporary jobs and she meets random people in brief encounters. It is the poignancy of the short encounters that make the film feel deep even when it is flawed. ‘Nomadland’ projects another way of life that celebrates the spirit of adventure when it is a choice but exposes the systemic failures of USA when that lifestyle is thrust on people. Besides being that one movie that makes Amazon look good, there are no major flaws in the film and the movie is arresting for the captivating performance from Frances McDormand who owns the movie from the start to end.
Minari (2020)[IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, My Rating: 8.0]
A Korean family moves to Arkansas to start a new life by venturing into farming vegetables for the Korean expat population. Then the grandma from Korea joins them to take care of the kids as the parents work. The life goes on with its twists and turns. ‘Minari’ is an essential immigrant experience of trying to fit in but yet holding on to the cultural roots. When you finish watching ‘Minari’ what remains are the little vignettes of life than any major story. The denouement is hardly convincing but there is a lot to see in ‘Minari’ and those parts are told in a silky smooth way.
Promising Young Woman (2020)[IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, My Rating: 7.5]
This movie could have been much better. That is the first thought that struck me when I finished watching. It could have been written better, directed better, edited better and acted better. The story of a young woman going to any extent to avenge the death of her friend is presented in a rather interesting way. Somehow the movie leaves the feeling that there was a tight budget and not enough money to spend on the production design. The coffee shop in the movie looks and feels like an enterprise which would not make the cut in a children’s play. The scenes between the protagonist and her boyfriend are rather forced. If you can close your eyes to some jarring notes there is much to be liked in the movie, especially the story it wants to tell. Although Carey Mulligan is tipped for an Oscar nomination for this role, I think that someone else could have delivered this role better. Overall, the operative word is ‘better’.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)[IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, My Rating: 7.0]
This film captures the drama on a hot day when acclaimed singer Ma Rainey has to record a few songs. For those who do not know, Ma Rainey was one of the first female African-American singers to be ever recorded and marketed. Her clout and ability to get things done her way in the movie is indicative of her stature and commercial pull. The more dramatic bit of the movie features the late Chadwick Boseman who I hope gets at least an Oscar nomination for his last substantial role. This movie is well edited but the fact that it is adapted from a play shows in some of the scenes. The restricted number of locations also demonstrated a script which fails to grow from its original material. Kudos to Coca Cola for the clever product placement. Keeping aside these infirmities, this is a movie worth your time.
The White Tiger (2020)[IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, My Rating: 7.5]
This is a film about which I feel I can write a more authentic review for the mere fact that the novel is one of the few works of fiction I have read in the last many years. (I am a stickler for non-fiction) The booker prize winning work by Arvind Adiga thrives on dollops of sarcasm and dark humour. It is a difficult task to translate that on to the screen. The movie is successful in getting the essence of the book but does leave out some biting pieces of dark humour. It also adds few elements not mentioned in the book. For those looking for a story, the movie is about an unscrupulous man working his way up India’s notorious social ladder. Adarsh Gourav in the lead role has done justice to his role. Somehow he embodies the character you have in mind when you read the novel. As a movie, this one does not let you down but the book is better.
Sylvie’s love (2020)[IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, My Rating: 7.0]
‘Sylvie’s Love’ is a movie which if you did not know its year of release would easily slot into the black and white era of Hollywood. It has the look and feel of one of those classics. It has enough drama to match. It is a simple story. (spoilers ahead) Boy meets girl. They get separated. Then they meet again. Then they unite. Then they choose to be separate. At the end, they reunite. Simple. Told you. The mood of the movie is unashamedly romantic but there are elements of the fading popularity of jazz music and the struggle of a woman to have a career in a not so distant past. Above all this is the fact that somehow a neat romantic movie got made when that is a genre which has struggled for screen space in recent times.
Run (2020)[IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, My Rating: 6.5]
I had read about a girl being held captive by her mother in a magazine article few years ago. This movie seems to be based on that article even though it does not claim to be one. At a conceptual level there is nothing great here. There are enough movies that have dealt with such themes. I would not even say that the treatment is groundbreaking. It is a easygoing movie worth your time if you are thinking of opportunities to while away your time. At least it does not manipulate the audience and there is no structural complexity to make you scratch your head (Yes, I am speaking of Nolan here).
Bloody Hell (2020)[IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, My Rating: 6.5]
Similar to ‘Run’, this movie is also a hostage drama but with a twist. It is playful and has a wicked sense of humour. A hero who somehow ends in jail for stopping a bank heist ends up in the basement of a crazy family in Finland. He must find a way out before he is wiped clean from the face of earth. There is some intentional comedy in the gruesome premise. That itself makes it a movie which is worth your time.
Death to 2020 (2020)[IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 37%, My Rating: 6.0]
This is a mockumentary. It lands a few good punches and some of the humour is genuine. The problem is that sarcasm in the real world is a dying art because there is too much of misinformation floating around. I would not be surprised if some parts of the population did not get the humour in this enterprise. I enjoyed large bits of it and would recommend it.
Documentary of the Week
Crazy, Not Insane (2020) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, My Rating: 7.5]
I did not know that multiple personality disorder is an area on which there is no consensus in the scientific community. A leading proponent of the dissociative identity disorder presents her case. Draw your own conclusions.
Eagerly waiting for: James Bond to come to a cinema near me.
Did you know: In 2020, Netflix released more movies than any other major Hollywood studio. It will do so again in 2021.
Force Majeure (Sweden, 2014) [ IMDB: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes:93%, My Rating: 7/10]
‘Force Majeure’ is a movie about relationships and trust. In life’s key moments, would you go for self-protection or would you go the distance to protect those who count on you? A Swedish family vacationing in France faces the consequences of such a situation, thus exposing the fault lines within relationships which had been taken for granted. At another level, the story is that of redemption and restitution of faith. Not exactly for audiences who like to have fun at the cinemas, ‘Force Majeure’ was a strong performer at the festival circuits last year. It bagged the Jury Prize at Cannes during this run and was tipped to be a shoo in for the Foreign Language Oscar nomination. So when it did not grab that coveted nomination, the director of the film went into a meltdown which was captured in the following clip:
Movies I Saw This Week
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) [IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, My Rating: 7/10]
One of the best ‘leave your brain at home’ movies that I have seen in recent times, this one keeps the pace intact throughout the course without ever flagging. Even when acutely aware of the fact that the underdog will save the world, the viewer gets a feeling of something fresh happening on the screen. The write smartly sets up clichéd scenes and has a conversation about the scene being clichéd. Then he does the obvious. Is the obvious a cliché? Colin Firth and Samuel Jackson handle their roles with ease and the relatively new Taron Egerton does a competent job. The plot is about a secret ‘Secret Service’ with limited membership which does the difficult task of saving the world. The hero is the equivalent of an adolescent James Bond but with a baseball cap and the Swedish Princess for a ‘girlfriend’. The movie unintentionally throws up some interesting questions about corporate czars influencing the politics of the world. These type of interesting questions are thrown up in the midst of a lot of fun. After all, when was the last time you had a hero called Eggsy saving the world?
The Lunchbox (2013) [IMDB: 7.8, Rotten tomatoes: 96%, My Rating: 7.5/10]
I saw this movie only now and that too after it received a BAFTA nomination. That is the sad part. Only a BAFTA nomination could persuade me to watch what is essentially one of the best Indian movies of last year. The move tells the poignant and unlikely romance that develops when the lunchboxes of two people are exchanged in the extremely rare event of a mistake by the Dabbawallas of Mumbai. With moments that bring the best of times bygone including the old Doordarshan shows and cheesy romantic songs of the 90s, the movie also blends in side tracks like the one featuring the ever reliable Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Filled with genuine humour (spoiler ahead) in situations like the one in which the Dabbawalla quotes Harvard to dismiss suggestions of any mismanagement, this film is one you will not forget very soon.
John Wick (2014) [IMDB; 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%, My rating:6.5/10]
Keanu Reeves is John Wick. In his heyday, John Wick was a hitman par excellence. Then he found love and then came retirement. Once his love was dead there was no reason to remain in retirement. At this point, we are only 5 minutes into the movie. The rest of the movie is about how John Wick finishes off all his adversaries and even some bystanders. If you like suave actions flicks featuring a protagonist with a lot of panache, ‘John Wick’ is the movie for you. If gun shots sound like music to your ears, then you may think you are watching a philharmonic performance. Keanu Reeves deserves some appreciation for his ‘performance’. Afterall, it must have been tough to have the same expression during the entire course of making of this movie.
Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015) [IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 72%, My Rating:6.5/10]
Ayushmann Khurrana was staring at the abyss after delivering three consecutive box office bombs. He must have been relieved to have an Yash Raj film in his kitty but even he would not have realized the enormous (there will be a few more bad puns in this review) potential of a film which could have weighed him down. Quite easily the ‘Queen’ of 2015, ‘Dum Laga ke Haisha’ is a delight to watch even when the dialect is sometimes a little difficult to grasp. Set in the 90s in Haridwar, the movie takes you to a time when Kumar Sanu’s nasal voice used to rule the roost. Evidently shot on a low budget, the film tells the story of the arranged marriage between two disparate souls. The one who takes the cake (and perhaps eats it too) is debutante Bhumi Pednekar who gives a confident performance as the assertive young daughter-in-law. She shows that size really does not matter. It is her free spirit that makes the film worth watching. Interestingly, hardly anybody left the movie hall till the Kumar Sanu-Sadhna Sargam track finished playing along with the titles.
The Rewrite (2015) [IMDB: 6.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 645, My Rating:5/10]
Out of work Oscar winning writer lands a teaching job in an obscure town where he turns things around. He also discovers love and unearths a new talent. Aided by the electric smile of Marisa Tomei and not so electric smile of Hugh Grant, the movie chugs along without gathering too much pace or slowing down considerably. This movie could have starred Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore instead. Or Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. It would still be the same and it wouldn’t matter. It is one of those movies which you wouldn’t mind watching but would have a hard time recollecting after a few months.
Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) [IMDB: 4.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 26%, My Rating:3/10]
At an artistic level, it is one of the worst films to have come out in recent times but the promotion and the sustained marketing campaign hava been a good case study on how to go about getting the audiences to watch this movie. If explicit content is the lure for you to watch the movie, then cut to the chase. Certainly one of the duds of the year.
NH10 (2015) [IMDb: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes:67%, My Rating: 3/10]
(Spoilers ahead) Surely one of the most illogical and nonsensical movies of the last five years. Produced by Anurag Kahyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, this movie has more holes in the script than what a punching machine would ever be able to achieve. The liberated girl has to be a smoker and her birthday gift is the freedom to smoke. I thought that this was so passé. She has a nutty husband who seems to have turned off the functioning of his brain. Only the script writer knows what he was smoking when he dreamt of the sequence when the guy goes with a gun to counsel someone in the middle of nowhere. Seriously? Then, people kill each other. The heroine runs around the whole of Haryana in search of help. Only people who help her out are migrant labourers from Bihar. Then she runs again, then she cycles, then she kills the policeman and steals the police vehicle. Then she runs again. After running so much, she lands up at the home of the people who are chasing her. Of all the houses in all the villages in all of Haryana, she walks into the only house which she should have avoided. Rick from ‘Casablanca’ would have been so proud. After being beaten to pulp by her tormentors, she conveniently finds a way to get the keys to their car. Then she makes them run around the village before killing them while she chases them in their car. They run as if she knows their village more than them. They run as if the only direction they know is ‘straight’. I ran to the side because the movie hall had exits on the side.
The Boy Next Door (2015) [IMDB: 4.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 11%, My Rating: 1/10]
A youthful divocee falls for her new neighbor. It takes her some time to realize that her neighbor is a bad guy, a really bad guy. Staring at the midday sun is a less painfull experience than watching this flick.
The captivating story of a street photographer whose treasure trove of great photographs numbering more than 100,000 was discovered after she had died as a destitute old lady. Also, a reminder that in photography, it is the person behind the camera that matters more than the camera itself.
Eagerly waiting for: ‘ While We’re Young’ starring Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts.
Did you know: ‘American Sniper’ is the highest grossing war film of all time.
When I started this blog 50 weeks ago, I had never imagined that it would have readers from 73 countries and the average weekly readership would cross 70. For 49 weeks I have written ( at times, by burning midnight oil) about my experiences at the movies. The 50th week is a tribute to all the readers who found something worth reading here. For this edition I asked a reader who has read all previous 49 editions, for a list of that person’s 50 favourite movies. This edition is about those 50 movies.
1. Bucket List (2007) [ IMDB:7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 78%]
The Plot: Two terminally ill men from dissimilar backgrounds go on a journey together and try to do everything they always wanted to do.
The Highlight: Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson team up. If for nothing else, the film is worth a watch for the energy they bring to the screen. It is for the same reason and the high expectations from such a film that the viewer may find a little underwhelmed at the end. Still, a very good watch.
The Plot: Two top cops from Los Angeles are sent to a small town to investigate the death of a teen. The sting in the tale is that the sun does not set in the town.
The Highlight: Christopher Nolan’s early work saw a bunch of accomplished actors on screen but the real winner was the cinematography which set the right mood for the film. Even the small town feels like a character on screen. Its beauty and serenity are breathtaking but also add the suspense in the movie.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “I can’t judge. There are two kinds of people in Alaska: those who were born here and those who come here to escape something. I wasn’t born here.”
The Plot: How one event happening/not happening changes the course of a women’s life. The vicissitudes and glorious uncertainties of life.
The Highlight: Gwyneth ‘Conscious Uncoupling’ Paltrow who puts in her best performance after her Oscar winning performance in ‘Shakespeare in Love’.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “For God’s sake, Gerry. I asked you a simple question; there is no need for you to become Woody Allen.”
4. Shutter Island (2010) [ IMDB:8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 76%]
The Plot: Set in 1954, the film purportedly shows the investigation to find out the location of a convict who has escaped from a mental asylum.
The Highlight: Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio team up to bring their most provocative story which requires multiple viewings to have a full debate on; a conclusive interpretation being a difficult goal. In the end the story does not matter. All that matters is how much of it is real.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “No assumption, no, not at all. You misunderstand me. I said, you are ‘men of violence’. I’m not accusing you of being violent men. That’s quite different.”
The Plot: An immigrant from Cuba builds his fortune in the world of crime and drugs in 1980s Miami.
The Highlight: Al Pacino shows once more time why he is one of the greatest actors ever.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.”
6. Groundhog Day (1993) [ IMDB:8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]
The Plot: Bill Murray plays a weatherman who finds that he is living the same day again and again. The good thing is that he has Andie MacDowell for company.
The Highlight: It is a toast to the ordinary life which could be extraordinary if one lived it as if there is no tomorrow.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “I don’t deserve someone like you. But If I ever could, I swear I would love you for the rest of my life.”
7. The Help (2011) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]
The Plot: At the height of the Civil rights movement, a young white woman decides to write a book on the light of African American maids and their perception of their masters.
The Highlight: Viola Davis in an illuminating performance.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “Courage sometimes skips a generation. Thank you for bringing it back to our family.”
8. The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]
The Plot: A rank outsider wins against all odds at the 1913 US Open in golf, beating his idol on the way.
The Highlight: Nothing exceptional but once in a while the right cliches at the right time make the right kind of movie.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “Let me tell you something. I came here to win a trophy. And on the face of it Ted Ray or I should carry it off. Not for you, not for England, but for sheer bloody pride at being the best, that’s why we do this. And if Mr. Ouimet wins tomorrow, it’s because he’s the best, because of who he is. Not who his father was, not how much money he’s got, because of who he bloody is! And I’ll thank you to remember that.
The Plot: A group of interesting characters join the hunt for a missing diamond.
The Highlight: Unbridled action, peppy dialogues and lots of style.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “Yes, London. You know: fish, chips, cup ‘o tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary fucking Poppins… LONDON.”
10. Roman Holiday (1953) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]
The Plot: An American newsman takes a princess on a trip of Rome on her day away from boring life.
The Highlight: Audrey Hepburn. William Wyler. Gregory Peck.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “I have to leave you now. I’m going to that corner there and turn. You must stay in the car and drive away. Promise not to watch me go beyond the corner. Just drive away and leave me as I leave you.”
11. American Gangster (2007) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]
The Plot: A detective trying his best to nab a drug lord.
The Highlight: A simplistic story and an average performance from Russel Crowe are eclipsed by Denzel Washington in one of his best performances.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “Success. It’s got enemies. You can be successful and have enemies or you can be unsuccessful and have friends.”
12. Kiss the Girls (1997) [ IMDB: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 64%]
The Plot: A girl who survives a serial killer’s murder attempt holds the key to nabbing him.
The Highlight: Though there are enough loopholes in the movie, it is the sheer presence of Morgan Freeman that makes the film worth a watch.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “Multiply your anger by about a hundred, Kate, that’s how much he thinks he loves you.”
13. Match Point (2005) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 81%]
The Plot: A married man falls for the girlfriend of his brother-in-law.
The Highlight: What you don’t expect from Woody Allen and what you absolutely expect from Scarlett Johansson.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “The man who said “I’d rather be lucky than good” saw deeply into life. People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It’s scary to think so much is out of one’s control.”
The Plot: The only hope for a leukemia patient is to get a bone marrow transplant from her sister, a sister who is estranged from her for two decades.
The Highlight: Some stirring performances from Streep, Keaton and DiCaprio.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “Most of the time I just keep to myself. I think like what it would be like to be… someone else.”
23. The Last King of Scotland (2006) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]
The Plot: How it was to be a confidante and physician of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
The Highlight: Acting lesson from Forest Whitaker.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “You deserve to die. But dead, you can do nothing. Alive, you might just be able to redeem yourself.”
24. The Tourist (2010) [ IMDB: 6.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 42%]
The Plot: Angelina Jolie walks into the life of Johnny Deep while he is on a vacation in Italy. Wish that was true.
The Highlight: I can’ think beyond Angelina Jolie here.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “It’s the um… the Roman god, Janus. My mother gave it to me when I was little. She wanted to teach me that people have two sides. A good side, a bad side, a past, a future. And that we must embrace both in someone we love.”
The Plot: A firefighter’s life told in flashback as he awaits to be rescued before he dies.
The Highlight: Reel life heroes find time to act in a movie that tell the tales of real life heroes.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “People are always asking me how is it that firefighters run into a burning building when everyone else is running out. Courage is the answer.”
42. The King’s Speech (2010) [IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]
The Plot: A stuttering king has to inspire his nation in times of war. Some men are thrust into greatness and they learn to speak along the way.
The Highlight: Colin Firth who is otherwise very good with his dialogues, had to unlearn.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “If I’m King, where’s my power? Can I form a government? Can I levy a tax, declare a war? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority. Why? Because the nation believes that when I speak, I speak for them. But I can’t speak.”
43. The Holiday (2006) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 80%]
The Plot: An American and a Britisher swap homes during a vacation and find their respective partners.
The Highlight: One of Nancy Meyers’ more accomplished works.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “You’re supposed to be the leading lady in your own life, for God’s sake!”
44. The Color Purple (1985) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]
The Plot: Adaptation of the classic novel on the life of an African American woman.
The Highlight: Shoddy direction by Steven Spielberg.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “The jail you planned for me is the one you’re gonna rot in.”
45. The Day of the Jackal (1973) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]
The Plot: A conspiracy to kill the President of France.
The Highlight: The coldness of the assassin.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “You have to employ a professional. Your organization is so riddled with informers that nothing you decide is a secret for long. No, the job would have to be done by an outsider. The only question would be by whom, and for how much.”
46. The Usual Suspects (1995) [ IMDB:8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]
The Plot: It must be easy to solve a crime when the suspects are limited and known. Or is it?
The Highlight: Kevin Spacey can tell stories.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
The Plot: Greenhorn Vinny has to defend his cousin in a murder trial in small town Alabama.
The Highlight: Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei make you laugh so much that your stomach hurts.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “Well I hate to bring it up because I know you’ve got enough pressure on you already. But, we agreed to get married as soon as you won your first case. Meanwhile, TEN YEARS LATER, my niece, the daughter of my sister is getting married. My biological clock is TICKING LIKE THIS and the way this case is going, I ain’t never getting married.”
48. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) [ IMDB: 8.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]
The Plot: A jailed serial killer is the only one who can help a young investigator reach another serial killer on the rampage.
The Highlight: Anthony Hopkins won the Best Actor Oscar for which his onscreen time was the least among all previous winners in the category.
The Best Scene:
The Best Line: “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
I am happy to report that accuracy levels for the last week’s predictions were way beyond my expectations. Congratulations to all the winners at the 2014 Oscars.
Like Water for Chocolate (Mexico, 1993) [ IMDb: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]
Considered a landmark in the history of Mexican cinema, this film tells the story of a man who is forced to marry the sister of the woman he is in love with. It is a lyrically told tale with moments where the director attempts to have scenes of magical realism. The performances are nothing to crow about. The way the story plays out and the twists and turns in the predictable family life make the film an interesting watch. The film remains one of the peaks of Mexican cinema. Highly recommended.
Often cited as the greatest film ever to be made, this classic from Italy is a must watch for anyone with even a passing interest in great films and the history of cinema. It is a simple story of a man and his son in search of a cycle. What makes it a classic is the universal theme it deals with, which has stood the test of time and can be understood by the common man anywhere in the world. An absolute must watch.
Movies I Saw This Week
Oldboy (2013) [IMDB:5.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 44%]
Based on the Korean film with the same title this film deviates from the original, with mixed results. (Spoilers Ahead) While this one is shot particularly well, it leaves some gaping holes in the plot. A man with a dubious character is kidnapped and imprisoned for two decades without him knowing the reason for the ordeal he is put through. While in confinement, his only reason for staying alive is his hope of seeing his daughter. The film has a small but significant shift in the climax which looks good but is not easily explained by facts. It does sound strange when a 20 million bounty is unnecessarily offered to the prisoner without any explanation of why he is at the receiving end of such a largess. It does neatly fit in towards the end but the ending is just too convenient. In all this, the prisoner shows no remorse for his actions and he continues with his pre confinement persona after release too. I guess many thugs like him would be happy to go through the ordeal if they were offered 20 million dollars.
The film is a genuine romantic comedy which falters severely towards the end. (Spoilers ahead) It is very difficult to understand why the director chose to go with Parineeti Chopra as the choice of the lead in the climax of the movie. It is evident that the protagonist had a strong seven year old relationship going with his fiancee and for him to leave her for a girl he meets after his engagement looks a dumb idea. This is augmented by the fact at no stage there are strong sparks between the hero and the new girl in his life, who also happens to be a runaway thief. The film has some really funny scenes and sharp dialogues but all the effort goes down the drain when the director chooses to go for the easy and conventional ending with lot of glycerin induced scenes thrown in. The acting is competent and the screenplay hold on its own for large parts but the songs are as stale as yesterday’s leftovers. Still, a one time watch.
Hell hath no fury like Bangladeshis scorned. ‘Gunday’ has been at the receiving end of Bangladeshi rage as mass voting from this country has made Gunday the worst rated film in the history of IMDB. ‘Gunday’ now occupies the unenviable position of the worst film in movie history going by popular sentiment. What has led to such negative reaction is the accusation of misrepresentation of the freedom struggle of Bangladesh. Bangladeshis have taken offence and responded with full vigour. As for the film, it is a triangular love story. It is a stock template of Bollywood movies and offers nothing new. The film is loud, boring and a total disaster. It has kids who think they are men and a spinster who thinks she is still a crowd puller. Come to think of it, this hated film hit the screens on Valentine’s day. The irony of it all.
Documentary Pick of the Week
The Armstrong Lie (2013) [ IMDB: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]
For all those who are still in denial that Lance Armstrong was the biggest cheat in the history of sports, get your dose of reality from the man himself. Even the director’s attempts to save him fall flat. Must watch.
The : D Retrospective
My Fair Lady (1964) [ IMDB:7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]
A lady from a poor neighbourhood is picked up for a social experiment and groomed into a fine lady. Audrey Hepburn carries the film on her tiny shoulders and does it with remarkable success. It remains a mystery to me how the film landed up with eight Oscars because the best it could have hoped for was an invite to Hepburn to the Oscars. Watch it just for her.
An underrated gem which earned a young Di Caprio his first Oscar nomination. The plot involves Johnny Depp who is burdened with a dysfunctional family and his attempts to break free are stifled. The film has a great ensemble acting performance with all the actors putting in memorable performances. A bittersweet tale which deserves a more wider audience.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) [ IMDB:6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%]
An author buys a house in Tuscany in the spur of a moment. Over a long period of time many characters enter and leave her life and she keeps on searching for true love. Watch to find out if she does find love. Diane Lane is a dignified presence throughout the movie and her acting makes you root for her.
Eagerly Waiting For: ‘Blended’ because Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler think they are still good to be in romantic comedies.
Did you know: Following the tremendous success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the New Zealand government even created a Minister for Lord of the Rings, whose remit was to exploit all the economic opportunities the films represented.
An assassin who is at the top of his game suddenly finds the tide turning against him. The same qualities that made him a force may cause his downfall. Stylishly shot movie which is able to achieve the deadpan look which many other movies try so hard to achieve. A must watch. With the benefit of hindsight, I think that the title ‘Kamikaze’ would have been more apt.
Pedro Almodovar is a great story teller but the most noticeable trait of his movies is the presence of strong female characters. Here, the usual dose of Spanish flair is an asset to the movie which moves at a rapid pace. The story is that of a single mother trying to cope with her son’s death. She is also forced to confront her own demons. The film scooped the Academy award for the ‘Best Foreign Language film’ after having tasted commercial success in Spain.
One of the most depressing movies you will ever see. Four addicts who want to have a better life go down the drain as they are unable to battle their dependence on drugs. The movie is shot in a rather disconcerting way and is like a visit to hell and back. The performances are uniformly classy. A special mention must be made of Ellen Burstyn who as the mother puts in an unforgettable performance. One of the best movies you will ever see.
Director Quentin Tarantino is a self confessed fan of B grade slasher movies and action flicks. The good thing is that he shows his love for violence by making high quality classics which revel in violence and action. ‘Pulp Fiction’ is perhaps his most accomplished work and one of the most important movies of the 90s. The movie gave a new grammar to the method of making movies. With actors who act as if they were born to perform their roles, the move is a tour de force. This is one movie which you should watch if you claim to have any interest in movies.
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have collaborated on many occasions with mixed results. This movie is perhaps the best that they have produced together. Johnny stars as Edward who has scissors for hands. He falls in love with kleptomaniac (in real life, that is) Winona Ryder. Though Depp tries his best to emote this is not his best performance. He is able to draw the sympathy towards his character but that is all what he is able to do. Still, a rather interesting film for the novelty of the idea.
Matthew McConaughey has been the most consistent star in the last three years delivering remarkable movies starting with ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ in 2011. As they say, he saved the best for the last. ‘Mud’ is undoubtedly his most accomplished film with a solid story and screenplay that makes you wonder whether it is inspired by true events. Here McConaughey plays a man on the run from the law who makes a pact with two boys to help him escape. The locations are authentic and McConaughey looks the part. He deserves at least an Oscar nomination for his performance. All this adds up to one of the best films of 2013. Truth be told, it is difficult to find such movies anymore. Therefore, a must watch.
‘Disconnect’ is basically a lesson on internet. It is a movie for the beginners on what not to do on the net. Otherwise, it is a movie on incredibly naive people who have no idea what they are doing when they post personal stuff on the net and pass it on to complete strangers. The editing is tacky and the background score does not aid the setting. I did not find the movie much impressive but from the popular response it seems I am in the minority.
Besharam ( India, 2013)[ IMDB: 3.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 18%]
Finally, a Bollywood movie which lives up to its title. Shameless. The sentimental story of an orphan who has a heart of gold. Just kidding. The stupid story of an orphan who likes to steal cars for a living and steals the car of the girl he is chasing. The girl is also so filthy rich that she drives the latest Mercedes (poor idea of product placement) and then starts loving the guy who stole her car. Moral of the story: If the girl who you like does not like you,steal her car. Drive her around (in your car) long enough to make her love you. Then confess and return her car. Crack some crude jokes and when you are stuck on what to do next, start a song. Voila, you have a film.