Edition 83

The Non-English Movie of The Week

First They Killed My Father (Cambodia, 2017) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes:88% , My Rating: 7.5 ]

Trailer

After a couple of failed attempts at movie making, Angelina Jolie finally hits the sweet spot with her deadpan style which is suitable for a movie which deals with agony and intensifying despair. Set in Cambodia during the infamous Khmer Rouge regime and based on an autobiographical account of the events, this movie is a serious yet nuanced take on life during the regime as well as the disintegration of a way of life. Jolie’s success is also down to the fact that she resists the temptation of sidelining the central character in the narration. The movie unfolds through the eyes of the child and her family’s fervid attempts to stick together. The movie practically proceeds through a series of compelling events. ‘First They Killed My Father’ is a movie that deserves to be seen and applauded.

Movies I Saw This Week

Baby Driver (2017) [IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes:93%, My Rating:7.5 ]

Trailer

‘Baby Driver’ navigates the zone which is between the border of pop flick and high art. Though it has some tired premises like ‘one final heist before retirement’, the movie manages to hold attention by the sheer pace of the action it offers and and a good recycling of cliches. The central character of the movie is the driver of a getaway car for bank robbers. He has his quirks but his self assured demeanor is tested as the story progresses. It would be wrong to say that ‘Baby Driver’ is a all brawn and no brains story. Nevertheless, one may enjoy it more if the brain is left at home.

Who is Alice (2017) [IMDB: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: Not rated , My Rating:7.0 ]

Trailer

This is a surprisingly good movie with a solid screenplay and fine acting. It tells the tale of a struggling actress trying to juggle her personal and professional life. Without divulging much about the story, it can be said that the whole movie is a setup towards an unexpected climax. In fact, the movie makes more sense with the twist in the tale. Another striking feature of the movie is the uniformly good performance by every character in the movie. ‘Who is Alice’ is a movie which is not going to have a widescreen release or many awards to its credit but it is a very competent piece of film making that promises rich rewards for the discerning viewer.

American Made (2017) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes:87% , My Rating:7.0]

Trailer

‘American Made’ is about a real life pilot who got his cake and ate it too. He worked for the CIA and on the same trips smuggled drugs to the US. This movie does not offer anything novel but has the same ideas that sustain this kind of an enterprise. The story line borrows heavily from previous movies about arms dealers like the ‘Lord of War’ and many Oliver Stone flicks. This is not to suggest that the movie is a dud. It is fairly engaging and at times even revealing. Tom Cruise is still in Mission Impossible mode but with shoddier clothing. Watch it if you like flicks which are comforting because you can easily predict what is going to happen in the next scene.

Wind River (2017) [IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes:91% , My Rating:7.5 ]

The debut directorial venture of the writer of ‘Sicario’ and ‘Hell or High Water’, is a tour de force. It is a slow burning crime investigation which builds up to the grand finale. The sense of sadness is palpable throughout the film. The wild and cold background is a major contributor to the sense of intrigue and hopelessness that surrounds the life of the people on screen. I developed a sense of respect for the victim and her strong will to survive; a mission in which she fails. ‘Wind River’ is more than a thriller. It is a story of people battling the odds. It is a story which makes you think. It is one of the best movies of the year.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, My Rating: 7.0]

Is there a movie in which Adam Sandler is a better performer than Dustin Hoffman? The answer is an emphatic yes. ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ was screened at Cannes in the competition section. I am not convinced of its Cannes level quality but the movie is a good one time watch. The family of a moderately famous artist comes together for various reasons. The interactions between them unleash the hidden emotions of each of them. The movie is a character study with the parent-child relationship being the focus of the story. The favourite son played by Ben Stiller is the polar opposite of his half brother played by Adam Sandler and it is made abundantly clear to them by the father who his favourite is. This movie is a sad and poignant one in most parts.It is fairly riveting for the family drama that it portrays. Watch it for the acting. Watch it for Adam Sandler.

Gerald’s Game (2017) [IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, My Rating: 7.5]

Trailer

Based on the novel by Stephen King, this movie is one of the triumphs of the year. It is a survival story on the surface but has multiple strands that make it a psychological thriller. A women is chained to her bed in a freak accident when her husband dies in their remote house. The distraught lady has to fight her inner demons to not only survive but also to find a way out of the quagmire. In such a survival movie, the odds are that the person will live to tell the tale (Spoilers ahead) but I was always second guessing on how she would wriggle out of the situation. I thoroughly  enjoyed watching this movie. It is a cat and mouse chase of the highest order: the one between you and your mind.

The Beguiled (2017) [IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 78%, My Rating:6.0]

Trailer

Sophia Coppola won the best director award for this movie at the Cannes film festival. I could not figure out why. She has practically reshot an earlier version of the film starring Clint Eastwood with no significant additions. I may be biased by my knowledge of the climax in the previous version but then Sophia Coppola does not add anything substantial to the movie. For the uninitiated, the movie tells the story of a wounded soldier who is tended by a group of women. The sexual tensions and the personal equations lie at the heart of the story. The film does not warrant anything more than a single watch and that too only for those who have not seen the original.

Annabelle: Creation (2017)  [IMDB: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes:70% , My Rating:6.0]

Trailer

‘Annabelle: Creation’ is a horror movie for the sake of some cheap thrills. It has unnecessary scenes in which the sole aim of the director is to frighten the audience for no rhyme or reason. Most of the scary scenes in the movie do not contribute to he development of the story and come with no particular reason at a specific point in the story. The setting of the movie itself is dubious and creating a backstory for an average movie is only with the intent of milking the franchise. Horror movies can be much better and classy. For starters, watch ‘The Shining’ or ‘Let the Right One In’.

Documentary of the Week

Russia with Simon Reeve (2017) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: Not rated, My Rating: 8.0]

Trailer

On the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution, BBC takes you on a trip across the breadth of Russia. Filled with stunning visuals and insights on life in Russia, this a documentary series worth every minute of its three hour run time.

Eagerly waiting for: Roman J. Israel, Esq. starring Denzel Washington.

Did you know: Steven Spielberg is the Godfather of Drew Barrymore and Gwyneth Paltrow.

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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.

Week 21

Movies: Non-English

Divided We Fall ( Czech Republic, 2000) [ IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

divided we fall

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAYjBHUIS7A

This acclaimed film is set in erstwhile Czechoslovakia during the Second World War. It deals with the issue of persecution of Jews under the Nazis, a theme done to death by Hollywood to the extent that you lose sympathy for the Jews. This film though, raises moral questions with shades of grey. The major actors on screen can be counted in one hand. There is nothing remarkable in the way the story is told but it has its twists and turns mostly because some of the steps taken by the actors cannot be anticipated in a normal moral framework. Extraordinary situations lead to extraordinary solutions.

The Thief (Russia, 1997) [IMDB; 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

Thief_FilmPoster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs7FGGvRQYU

Deception is the main theme in this Russian drama set during the rule of Stalin. A single mother and her son are drawn towards a soldier who is their only hope for escape from poverty. Things do not exactly turn out the way they are planned. It is a pleasure to watch this wonderfully shot movie but the emotion it deals with is the polar opposite of pleasure. The story is told through the eyes of a child. Circumstances force him to be on the wrong side of the law. It is difficult to forget his reaction when he sees his stepfather in the climax of the movie. Recommended.

English Retrospective

Terms of Endearment (1983) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]

terms of endearment

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsdDeh0M_nk

Winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actress (for Shirey Maclaine), this movie tells the story of the relationship between a mother and daughter who love each other more than they themselves know. It is not an exceptional movie but the performances make it worth a watch. Debra Winger won many fans with her fine performance but it was Shirley Maclaine who upstaged her at the Oscars. The movie tends to be too sentimental towards the end but I can tell you that some of the scenes are really worth all those sentiments. The bedside scene with the kids towards the end will melt the hearts of even the emotion resistant folks. To add to all this, there is Jack Nicholson playing  a former astronaut.

An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) [ IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 81%]

an officer

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1Ehz_cAMGc

There are some movies with an endearing quality about them. This is one such film which works because of the thoughtful writing and the onscreen chemistry between Richard Gere and Debra Winger. A young man in the armed forces has his own demons to fight and personal battles to win. A factory girl enters his life. The story is how the relationship goes through testing times. It is a coming off age movie in the true sense. Richard Gere plays his most vulnerable character on screen but for me the star of the show is Debra Winger whose acting matches her beauty. A really good afternoon watch.

Chariots of Fire (1981) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%]

chariots of fire

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWle59ZHPIM

If there is a movie which seals an Oscar for Best Music with the first few scenes, this is the one. The initial scene with the runners on the beach is one of the sensational sequences in cinema and all that is aided by the score by Vangelis. The story is about the British athletic team at the 1924 Olympics. It is no coincidence that the same theme music was played at all the medal presentation ceremonies at 2012 London Olympics. As for the movie, it loses steam midway but it is a joy to watch some of the sequences. If you are not British you may not enjoy it that much towards the end and I am not British.

Movies I Saw This Week

We’re the Millers (2013) [ IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 77%]

We're-The-Millers-Poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Vsy5KzsieQ

The summer blockbuster of 2013 is a crude comedy  which is also testament to the fact that Jennifer Aniston is a bankable star who can still make people laugh. Frankly, the humour does get little out of control at times but there are some genuine laugh out loud moments. The one when Sudeikis goes to get a hair cut is one such scene. The story involves an out of luck drug dealer trying to put together a family from assorted characters so as to make his drug deal look more realistic. Only Aniston ( and maybe Sandra Bullock) can pull off scenes like the family prayer on the aircraft. A guilty pleasure.

The Bling Ring (2013) [ IMDB: 6.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 60%]

BlingRingPB_CoverFINAL

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4LzhgExvrc

Sofia Coppola drew attention with the understated gem ‘Lost in Translation’ but she suddenly fell from grace with a dud called ‘Marie Antoinette’. Then came ‘Somewhere’ in 2010 and she won a few awards for that. ‘Bling Ring’ is comparable to the quality of ‘Somewhere’ where she seems to be doing a decent job as a director but she never touches the highs she was able to achieve with ‘Lost in Translation’ . The film is inspired by real life events where celebrity obsessed teenagers broke into the houses of celebrities to steal high end branded merchandise. There is nothing that raises the movie from an average flick. The scenes get repetitive in the middle. Only Sofia Coppola knows the secret behind her fetish for stupid songs in the background. May interest the viewer who is interested in celebrities. Otherwise, who gives two hoots about what happens to Paris Hilton?

Satyagraha (India, 2013) [ IMDB: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 35%]

SATYAGRAHA1

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KXwGcZI13k

There is no sting in this tale. It is basically a screenplay stitched together by recent events in India. The problem with that is that the issue has received so much media exposure that there is hardly anything new to be said. Prakash Jha repeats the folly he made with ‘Arakshan’. Issues which look good in television debates don’t translate automatically into good cinema. In fact, it often makes for caricatures and plastic characters who don’t connect with the audiences. A poor attempt.

Grown Ups 2 (2013) [ IMDB: 5.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 7% by critics]

grown ups 2

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

I guess the first edition of this series made lot of money for the studios. There is no other reason why they would have gone for the sequel. I could not sit through the first edition and the sequel is a pain to watch. It is not funny, not even by the pathetic standards set by current Adam Sandler movies. Keep away.

Documentary Pick of the Week

Hot coffee (2011) [ IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%]

hot coffee

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBKRjxeQnT4

An 81 year old lady wins 2.9 million USD in damages from McDonald’s after their coffee burns her body. This sets in motion a series of events culminating in major restrictions being passed on the rights of citizens in USA to sue companies. You don’t need to vote in elections because some corporations can buy the election for themselves. A thought provoking documentary.

Eagerly Waiting for: ‘Gravity’ because George Clooney and Sandra Bullock team up.

Did you know: Madonna changed costume 85 times for the film ‘Evita’.