Week 40

Movies: Non-English

The Great Beauty (Italy, 2013) [IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

The Great Beauty

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dyt430YkQn0

Winner of the Best Foreign Language movie at last week’s Golden Globes, this Italian film captures the beauty of Rome like never before. On his 65th birthday the lead character gets a blast from the past which makes him introspect the life he has led. The same Rome which is the home to the papacy also has a vibrant night life. It is in this melange that he finds the sublime and the loud. The film captures the wide open spaces in Rome which a casual visitor might miss for the hustle and bustle of a sprawling metropolis. The film is an ode to Rome but has some really sharp writing and the average viewer will be challenged to understand all the references to art and artists that the dialogues often refer to. It also has its fair share of philosophy but is never dull. Watch this ambitious and pensive work of art for the sheer grandeur it shows. I have not seen all the Oscar nominees in the Foreign Language category but I am willing to put my money on this film winning at the Oscars too.

Love Me If You Dare (France, 2003) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

Yann Samuell

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtzjUjVQe9Q

Panned by critics but loved by audiences, this French film was a blockbuster in France. It is easy to see why the movie was butchered by critics. It has no sense of logic and tells an improbable story. At the same time it is easy to see why the audiences loved it. It moves at such a frenetic pace that you are not bothered by the lack of logic. The way it has been shot and the acting compensate for a listless story. I am an admirer of the acting talent of Marion Cotillard. As always, she steals the show. As for the story, it is about two friends who carry on a game they started as kids, well into adulthood and way beyond reasonable behaviour. The game subsumes everything in their life and becomes their life itself. Watch this madcap film on a lazy weekend.

Movies I Saw This Week

12 Years a Slave (2013) [ IMDB: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

12 Years a Slave

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

Winner of the Best Picture at the Golden Globes and a hot favourite to land the same statuette at the Oscars, the movie tells a story that must be told. A free man who is good at playing the violin is abducted and sold as a slave. Based on actual events and adapted to the screen from the book with the same title, the movie is a must watch. The director Steve McQueen is notorious for making films which are difficult to watch and which don’t hold back their punches. His earlier work ‘Hunger’ was a pain to watch but this one has raw violence which made me turn my head away from the screen a few times. There are indeed more violent films that are released every year but with this one the realization that not a very long time ago this is what people did to other people makes it all the more direct. Still that is an education that is necessary, lest we forget. The film is a must watch. The only competition for Jennifer Lawrence in the Supporting Actress category at the Oscars will be from Lupita Nyong’o who puts in a memorable performance.

Her (2013) [ IMDB: 8.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

Her (2013)

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

Thank God that better sense dawned on Joaquin Phoenix and he came back from retirement to continue his career as an actor. Following up on his masterclass in ‘The Master’, he shows us why he is one of the finest actors of this generation in this ‘romance’. This original piece of work by Spike Jonze is more or less a lock in for the Original Screenplay at the Oscars as it was at the Golden Globes. The film has a very interesting first to its credit. It won Scarlett Johansson the Best Actress award at the Rome Film Festival, the only instance in its history that a character not appearing on screen has been given the award. That is explained by the story. Scarlett Johansson is the voice of the operating system with which Joaquin Phoenix falls madly in love with. The story is set in the future where the operating systems are intelligent enough to communicate intelligently with the user. They are pretty advanced too because they can understand and respond to even the speech of Joaquin Phoenix, an actor not particularly known for mouthing dialogues with clarity. There are other indicators to show that the setting is very futuristic. The city landscape in fog filled, hardly anyone ever wears jeans, all characters wear cotton pants with no belts and so on. The story is a lesson on how customization is important. There is always a demand for personalized services, be it professional letter writers (the job of the protagonist) or operating systems. At another level the story sheds light on how people sometimes develop a love for inanimate objects. After all this, it still is a simple love story with the associated highs and lows. What makes it a work of genius are some truly inspired scenes. (Spoilers ahead) The one when a surrogate visits the protagonist in lieu of the operating system is one such. Another one is when the operating system tells about her other loves. ‘Her’ is one of the most engaging films of the year with a screenplay that makes you think. Some of the metaphors are too good to be missed. How about men wanting to have girlfriends who are submissive and speak only when asked to? How about the allure of the voice over form and content? How about watching something new when you think new is no more possible?

Dallas Buyers Club (2013) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

dallas

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvMPU0WaPcc

Matthew McConaughey shed 45 pounds to look the part of an AIDS patient in this movie based on actual events. It is this kind of copious shedding of body weight which usually wins Oscars but then you have to raise a toast to the man who has given a string of strong performances over the last three years and transformed his career from being a gung-ho shirtless hero in movies like ‘Dazed and Confused’ to someone who has discovered that he could be remembered for his performances than anything else. That also makes him the leader in the pack for this years Best Actor Oscar. The film is not worth much. It follows the story of a bigot who gets AIDS and is forced to change his opinion on himself and others. Also, he circumvents the FDA to find medication for himself and in the process runs into a litany of court cases. At some stage in the movie I stopped caring about the story and started focusing on the acting of Matthew McConaughey. In the end that is all that there is to this flick but then that is one good reason to watch this one.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Dirty Wars (2013) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes:84%]

Dirty Wars

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KpzBAKJmig

The Oscar nomination for this one this year is down to the fact that it deserves to be seen widely and a few good men need to be appreciated. As a documentary, it is not a great one but just for sincerity and guts it needs to be seen. By the way, it is on the war in Afghanistan.

Coen Brothers Retrospective

Their latest work was snubbed at the Oscars but then I guess they have too many awards to be bothered by that. Here is a look at some of the best work from them. For more have a look at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001053/?ref_=tt_ov_dr

The Big Lebowski (1998) [IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

The Big Lebowski

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd-go0oBF4Y

The story of a man who is mistaken for a millionaire. Royally snubbed at the Oscars without even a nomination. History has since judged. Classic.

Miller’s Crossing (1990) [IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%]

Miller's Crossing

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYifReJJn4M

Divided loyalties in a gang war. The movie has never divided opinion. Must see.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?  (2000) [IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

O Brother, Where Art Thou

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqcnp8pHbwA

George Clooney doesn’t give two hoots about his image when he acts for the Coen brothers. Find out why.

Eagerly Waiting for:’The Wind Rises’ because it is supposed to be better than all the animation movies made last year.

Did you know: Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’ was the director’s first film in twelve years without Leonardo DiCaprio.

Advertisements

Week 38

Movies: Non-English

Maria Full of Grace (Colombia, 2004) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

Maria Full of Grace

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5yJOXgxZw8.

One of the few foreign films to have got the lead actress an Oscar nomination, this Colombian movie explores the dark lanes of illegal immigration and drug trafficking into USA. Catalina Moreno looks the part as the woman trying to escape the low life in Colombia for better prospects in the US. She accepts the proposal to act as a drug mule to achieve her ambitions. The film is not judgmental. The focus is on the person who is not just another face in the crowd. There is no stirring music or emotional manipulation and the camera hovers around trying to capture the intricate nuances of the story that is being told. I wouldn’t call it a must watch but it is a movie that deserves a good look.

Paradise Now (Palestine, France, 2005) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

Paradise Now

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xi9yiGePxKw

Why do people turn to terrorism? There are no easy answers but ‘Paradise Now’ tries to address a complicated issue and offers a counter to ‘Munich’, also released in 2005. The film is also an exploration of the frustrations of the people of Palestine. The plot involves a suicide bombing to be carried out by two friends. The story follows them on their mission. That journey is also the setting for the dialogue on the complexity of the issues they face as Palestinians and that tete-a-tete is the crux of what the movie wants to address. I guess even Mossad would have been interested.

Movies I Saw This Week

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) [ IMDB: 8.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%]

Wolf of Wall Street

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iszwuX1AK6A

There is hardly a moment in the movie when Leonardo DiCaprio is sober. That also makes it a movie perennially on dope. Add to that some sleaze, women, Ferraris, FBI and even a storm. What you get is a film throbbing with energy reaching the point of hysteria. For those not knowing Martin Scorsese, they would be imagining him to be a 21 year old director and it is his creative vision at such a late stage in his career that truly stands out. Leonardo DiCaprio brings out a very strong performance but it may still not land him the elusive Oscar. He has a very able supporting cast but in the end the film tells a story that is very cliched. It is a moralistic take on a middle class boy gone bad and traces his meteoric rise and fall. There have been numerous films that have dealt with that template and this one offers no big surprises. The saving grace is the taut screenplay which keeps you engaged throughout. The film is a true entertainer and one of the better works of 2013. It will get a few nominations at the Oscars but more than one Oscar will be stretching the limits of optimism.

Don Jon (2013) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes:81%]

Don Jon

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6615kYTpOSU

A young man obsessed with sex, pornography and women goes through a catharsis and finds true love (or should I say true sex?). Along the way he enjoys confessing his sins at the church and finds out that his sister is not the douchebag he thinks her to be. I found the film to be a good one time watch. Though it has the feeling of pop art, it gets progressively serious as it proceeds and this finally separates it from the run of mill romcoms.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013) [ IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 72%]

mandela

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmm-aazQQKA

Idris Alba is Nelson Mandela in this biopic that traces the life of the legendary statesman. Watching the movie is like contemplating about the possibilities of what could have been. Frankly, the movie is the biggest letdown of 2013. More so because had it been a half decent effort, it could have ridden a sympathy wave to glory. As things stand, it is second only to the selfie of Obama at Mandela’s memorial service in the list of gaffes with respect to Mandela in a year when the world has been bending backwards in paying respect to the leader. It is a film that will soon be forgotten unlike the revolutionary at the heart of its story.

Sidney Lumet Retrospective

Sidney Lumet has been the director of many path breaking movies which have redefined movies. Besides the three movies introduced in detail here, he has been at the helm for some remarkable movies like ‘Prince of the City’, ‘Network’ (reviewed earlier in the blog), ‘Running on Empty’, ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, ‘Serpico’, ‘Find Me Guilty’ and ‘The Verdict’.

12 Angry Men (1957) [IMDB: 8.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%]

12 Angry Men

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7CBKT0PWFA

Twelve men in a jury debate through reason and logic to reach a consensus. One of the movies to watch before you die.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007) [ IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Jhrxn7QVDc

Fifty years after making ’12 Angry Men’ Sidney Lumet shows that class is permanent with this truly riveting flick about the dark secrets of a family. Must see.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975) [ IMDB:8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

Dog-Day-Afternoon

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZHS7zexXlU

One of the best hostage dramas ever. Classic.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth (2013) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: Not yet rated)

Mike Tyson Undisputed Truth

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVrC9xfBUHk

The story of Mike Tyson. In his own words.

Eagerly Waiting for: ‘Labor Day’ because Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin can create fireworks on screen.

Did you know: In 2013, 12 Hollywood movies grossed more than 200 million dollars each which is a new record.

Silver Week Edition

We are reaching a numerical milestone of 25 continuous weeks of publication. I would like to thank each and every one from the 49 countries across 6 continents who found something interesting to read here. This edition is a celebration of love and features 25 of the most romantic movies I have ever seen.

25. The Yellow Handkerchief (Japan, 1977) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%]

Yellow Handkerchief Shiawase no kiiroi hankachi DVD Review

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAOl7Ii-TKI

The Best Line: Too many to mention. Not really. I don’t know Japanese.

The Plot: Three unrelated people take a road trip, one of them an ex convict who is on his way to meet his wife for the first time after his release from the prison.

Where is the romance: Some endings are truly sensational. This is one such ending.

24. Roman Holiday (1953) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

roman holiday

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIFo0txAvuE

The Best Line: “Tell you what. Why don’t we do all those things, together?”

The Plot: A princess enjoys her day in anonymity with an American newsman and falls for him.

Where is the romance: Everywhere, except in the end.

23. Atonement (2007) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

atonement

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWPZDi723Eo

The Best Line: “Had they let me, every day, I would have been there every day.”

The Plot: A young girl changes the love story of her sister.

Where is the romance: In the book in the movie.

22. An Affair to Remember (1957) [ IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]

affair to

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

The Best Line: “There must be something between us, even if it’s only an ocean.”

The Plot: A playboy meets the love of his life on a ship. They decide to meet six months later at the Empire State building.

Where is the romance: When you want Cary Grant to know what you know, in the last scene of the film.

21. Titanic (1997) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

titanic

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCy5WQ9S4c0

The Best Line: “Where to, Miss?” “To the stars!”

The Plot: An aristocrat lady falls in love with a poor artist on the doomed maiden voyage of the Titanic.

Where is the romance: In the tragedy.

20. When Harry Met Sally (1989) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

when haary

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8DgDmUHVto

The Best Line: “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

The Plot: Harry and Sally have been friends for a long time. It takes time for them to realize that they were meant to be together.

Where is the romance: For such an out and out sugary romance, the most memorable scene is the one in the restaurant.

19. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (India, 1995) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes 94%]

ddlj

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U9SpwJ9TCs

The Best Line: ” Iss ladke se zyaada pyar tujhe koi aur nahi kar sakta” (No one can love you more than this boy).

The Plot: After Raj met Simran, love was never the same.

Where is the romance: Mustard fields got the biggest makeover in terms of reputation. After Raj met Simran, mustard fields were never the same.

18.  The Apartment (1960) [ IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

apartment

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4OXm9-E8OQ

The Best Line: “That’s the way it crumbles.. cookie-wise.”

The Plot: The girl of his dreams is seeing his married boss.

Where is the romance: It is about finding true love and the triumph of the underdog.

17. Gone With the Wind (1939) [ IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

gone with the

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mM8iNarcRc

The Best Line: “You should be kissed and often; and by someone who knows how.”

The Plot: A woman loves someone so blindly that she is not able to see the man who loves her the most.

Where is the romance: In the roughness.

16. Doctor Zhivago (1965) [IMDB: 7.9, IMDB: 85%]

doctor_zhivago-289268745-large

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAWrXTn5Www

The Best Line: “There’s an extraordinary girl at this party.” “I know. I’m dancing with her.”

The Plot: Doctor Zhivago is in love with two women and in the background is the Russian Revolution.

Where is the romance: All the scenes at railway stations, especially the last one.

15.  Annie Hall (1977) [IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

annie hall

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBzHphcc2Jw

The Best Line: “That is the most fun I’ve ever had without laughing.”

The Plot: The compelling romance of a comedian and a singer.

Where is the romance: Love fades but the idea of love is intact.

14. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%]

Slumdog-Millionaire-2008

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIzbwV7on6Q

The Best Line: “I knew you’d be watching.”

The Plot: A game show is his only hope for finding his long lost love.

Where is the romance: Every question brings him close to his love.

13. Before Sunrise (1995) [IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes; 100%]

before sunrise

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v6X-Dytlko

The Best Line: “Isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”

The Plot: A man and woman meet on a train and spend an evening together in Vienna.

Where is the romance: If they did not make ‘Before Sunset’, you would still be thinking about the possibilities.

12. Breathless (France, 1960) [ IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

Breathless-1960-poster2

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJFFy3soy9Y

The Best Line: “Informers inform, burglars burgle, murderers murder, lovers love.”

The Plot: A murderer and a girl escape and hide in Italy.

Where is the romance: In the ambiguity.

11. Wall-E (2008) [ IMDB: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%]

wall e

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alIq_wG9FNk

The Best Line: “Computer, define ‘dancing’.”

The Plot: A robot goes in search of his love.

Where is the romance: The moment when WALL-E falls in love with Eve.

10. Notting Hill (1999) [ IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%]

NottingHillRobertsGrant

The Best Line: ” I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

The Plot: The unlikely romance of a superstar and a bookseller.

Where is the romance: In the park.

9. Lost in Translation (2003) [ IMDB: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%]

lost in translation

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYAS92XPvIM

The Best Line: “Can you keep a secret? I’m trying to organize a prison break. I’m looking for, like, an accomplice”

The Plot: Two lonely people bond in Tokyo.

Where is the romance: You can feel it. You can only feel it.

8. The English Patient (1993) [ IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%]

English_Patient_Poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPKpU14Kqqw

The Best Line: “This… this, the hollow at the base of a woman’s throat, does it have an official name?”

The Plot: A spy and a married woman have a passionate affair.

Where is the romance: In the cave.

7. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (France, 1964) [ IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

umbrellas

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7bhJkQd1T4

The Best Line: “People only die of love in the movies.”

The Plot: The tragedy of lovers separated by war which leads them to take life altering decisions.

Where is the romance: The most practical film on love.

6. Before Sunset (2004) [ IMDB: 8.0, Rotten Tomaotes: 95%]

before

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

The Best Line: “You can never replace anyone because everyone is made up of such beautiful specific details.”

The Plot: They meet again after  nine years, this time in Paris.

Where is the romance: Everywhere.

5. It Happened One Night (1934) [ IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%]

it happened

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

The Best Line: “I don’t know very much about him, except that I love him.”

The Plot: The mother and father of every romantic comedy ever made.

Where is the romance: In it and in all the movies made later using the same template.

4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) [ IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

eternal_sunshine_of_the_spotless_mind_movie-207695

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0ywpOFLHMY

The Best Line: “I’ve never felt that before.”

The Plot: A couple undergo a procedure to erase each other from their memories when their relationship turns sour, but it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with. (From IMDB)

Where is the romance: When you know that some things are meant to be.

3. Cinema Paradiso (Italy,1988) [ IMDB: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes:96%]

cinema

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2-GX0Tltgw

The Best Line: “Whatever you end up doing, love it.”

The Plot: Love and heartbreak in post war Italy.

Where is the romance: In the music.

2. Brief Encounter (1945) [ IMDB: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

BriefEncounterPoster

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

The Best Line: “This misery can’t last… Not even life lasts very long.”

The Plot: They meet by chance, they fall in love and ……

Where is the romance: Too many to mention.

1. Casablanca (1942) [IMDB: 8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

casablanca

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLU41jUnWM4

The Best Line: “We’ll always have Paris.”

The Plot:  Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into his.

Where is the romance: Whenever Ingrid Bergman is on screen.