The Non-English Movie of The Week
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.