Edition 78

The Non-English Movie of The Week

Elle (France, 2016) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, My Rating: 7.5]

elle

Trailer

Isabelle Huppert is one of the finest actors of this generation. This movie is another proof of her acting prowess. She fills every frame of the movie and keeps the suspense going. There are shades of Basic Instinct, an earlier work of the director. The basic story is that of the protagonist playing a cat-and-mouse game with her unknown rapist. The complexity of the film is created by the numerous subplots  which are interlinked. The complicated back story of the protagonist  and her subsequent mistrust of police aid in storytelling. In the end all the subplots fall into place like that of a jigsaw puzzle. Maybe, it is this comfortable ending that won the film the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Highly recommended.

Movies I Saw This Week

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) [IMDB: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, My Rating: 7.0]

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Trailer

There’s something about Meryl Streep which keeps the viewer engaged even in a mediocre movie.  ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ has no claim to greatness  but it is carried solely by the form shoulders of Meryl Streep ably supported by Hugh Grant.  For a director who won Meryl Streep last Best Actress Oscar for ‘The Queen’,  this is definitely not an improvement. The director is definitely successful in creating sympathy for Florence Foster Jenkins but the masses couldn’t care less for the fate of a troubled aristocrat. A movie on the world’s worst opera singer compares favorably with a movie on the world’s worst director. The latter titled ‘Ed Wood‘ was definitely a better work of art. At least, it had self-doubt.

Sully (2016) [IMDB: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%, My Rating: 7.5]

sul

Trailer

Clint Eastwood makes great movies. Tom Hanks  acts in great movies. Their combination to tell the story of an American hero in Captain Chesley Sullenberger is one of the best movies of the year. Like some of the previous Clint Eastwood movies there is no attempt at making the movie dramatic. At the same time, the movie cannot be classified as a character study as it only scratches the surface. Nevertheless, Tom Hanks pulls off with elan the role of a hero who is not aware of his heroic act.  Aaron Eckhart plays the best role of his life as the co-pilot. The thing about the ‘Miracle On Hudson’ is that it is one of those events which can hardly be ever repeated. Even the recreation of the movie isn’t enough to convince the viewer about the possibility of such an event. Perhaps that is where the movie had its task cut out and perhaps that is where it is not entirely successful. A shorter film of one hour would have done more justice to the plot.

Hell or High Water (2016) [IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, My Rating: 8.0]

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Trailer

Undoubtedly one of the best movies of the year Hell or High Water is supported by a cast comprising of thespians like Jeff Bridges Chris Pine.  Set in the forgotten parts of America and resembling a Western, the high point of the movie is that it resists the urge to pull out the gun on various occasions. The simmering tension of the movie is felt till the last frame. Concurrently the movie makes a bold statement on the plight of Americans left behind by the forces of capitalism. Most of the anger is directed at big banks who seem to get away with murder. Consequently, bank robberies form the central theme of the movie. The story is that of two brothers who rob the same bank they owe, to avoid foreclosure. In between all the gloom and doom there are also some subtle humor like in the restaurant where the waiter  knows a limited menu.  Alas, the movie is a reaffirmation of the fact that Jeff Bridges is one of the finest actors alive today. Must watch.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) [IMDB: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, My Rating: 6.5]

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Trailer


Following the success of his debut feature ‘What we do in the shadows’, the director’s second feature, ‘The hunt for the wilderpeople’, is a letdown. Indeed there are moments of humor in the movie but some of it seems forced and especially unexpected from a young child. The style of direction is a cross between that of Wes Anderson and Tim Burton. The movie tries to address some of the social issues but it soon turns to a farce. Set in the picturesque  mountains of New Zealand, it is also a peep into the life of the people at the margins of the society. I had a feeling that I had seen similar movies set in the America of 1980s. The only saving grace for the movie is that it does not bore the wits out of the viewer. The burden of high expectations seems to have taken a toll on the director.

The Light Between the Oceans (2016) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 59%, My Rating: 6.5]

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Trailer

The undeniable beauty of ‘The Light Between the Oceans’ is compromised by the cringingly sentimental storyline. Boasting such performers like Michael Fassbender, Alicia vikander and Rachel Weisz, The movie is unable to tap into the talent at its disposal.  By the second half, the movie sets  out on a predictable path. The film tells the tale of a young childless couple who one day find a baby marooned at sea. Some movies have difficult choices to make. The options at their disposal are equally worthwhile. Choosing one over the other is so precarious an exercise that this undermines the whole tale. That is the malady which effects this movie.

Deepwater Horizon (2016) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%, My Rating: 6.5]

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Trailer

The debacle at Deepwater Horizon was one of the biggest tragedies of the oil industry. From the BP CEO who infamously said, ” I’d like to have my life back” to the frontline soldiers of the company who lost their lives, the movie captures an event, the wounds of which are yet to heal.  Deepwater Horizon documents the events that happened on the fateful day of the tragedy. The template is the standard one used for all the disaster movies.  No great acting chops are expected yet competent performances are delivered. The movie captures the horror of the tragedy without deviating from the standard storyline. The movie is not particularly illuminating but some of it needs to be heard and seen.

War Dogs (2016) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 71%, My Rating: 6.5]

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Trailer

This movie could have been titled ‘It Happens Only in America’. Two neophytes receive a 300 million dollar defense contract. What follows is a series of games involving  arms traders and phoney businessmen. Jonah Hill is the big fat  dealer who will stop at nothing. The improbable story covers countries like Jordan, Albania and Iraq and is essntially the juvenile version of ‘Lord of War’. The film could have been taut and this aspect is particularly conspicuous. Otherwise, a decent watch.

The Siege of Jadotville (2016) [IMDB: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 73%, My Rating: 6.5]

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Trailer

This is the type of African tale which must be told.  Unfortunately they could have chosen a better story to tell.  Set in 1960s Congo in the midst of a Civil War,  the movie captures the fate of neutral United Nations Peacekeeping Force which does not receive support from the government, the opposition or the rebels. To make matters worse, they don’t even  receive support from the United Nations.  They are pawns in a bigger political game whic involves mining companies, colonial powers, world superpowers and a fledgling government. They are left to battle for survival against formidable odds.  The low production quality of Netflix is evident in this movie. Unfortunately, it is a story about heroes who need to be remembered and it does not get the treatment it deserves.

Don’t Think Twice (2016) [IMDB: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 99%, My Rating: 7.5]

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Trailer

‘Don’t Think Twice’ is one of the best movies of the year  until the last 10 % of the movie  when it gets  cloyingly sweet.  The movie has freshness written all over it. It tells the tale of a group of actors and how the Dynamics between them changes when one of them is chosen for a starring role in a television program. The movie is littered with instances of wit and humor. The young actors in the movie give it the credibility  it seeks. Recommended.

Documentary of the Week

Weiner (2016) [IMDB: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, My Rating: 8.0]

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Trailer

Anthony Weiner was once the young Turk among democrats. His fall from grace and the unraveling of his personal life are captured in this intimate documentary. One of the best documentaries of the year.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘A United Kingdom’ which tells the true life story of a Botswanian prince who married a British lady.

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Did you know: ‘La La Land’ now holds the record for the most Golden Globe wins by a film.

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Edition 64

The Non-English Movie of The Week

The Liberator (Venezuela, 2014) [IMDB: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 75%, My Rating: 6.5/10]

Liberator_movie_poster,_United_States

Trailer:

Simon Bolivar led Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia, Venezuela and Peru to independence by taking on the might of the Spanish empire. His life and times are captured in this Venezuelan movie set in early 19th century. Though not exactly a classic piece of cinema, the film sheds light on the events that shaped the liberator’s life. Even when oozing with adulation for the protagonist, the movie tries to draw a neat picture of what the great statesman was able to achieve. The trouble with the movie is that in its effort to make things palatable it does away with some of the complexities. Nevertheless, the movie is a good introduction to Latin America for those who are interested in knowing a little more about it.

Movies I Saw This Week

What We Do in the Shadows (2014) [IMDB: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes:96%, My Rating: 8/10]

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Trailer:

Practically reinventing the vampire genre, the movie is one of the best I have seen in 2015. Clearly targeted at a niche audience, it is a movie which brings humour to a story involving vampires. Made as a mockumentary, the film delves into the lives of a group of vampires who share the same house. Focusing on the difficulties that the vampires face in their daily lives and the petty politics that they have to deal with, the film is as unconventional as it gets. If ‘Let the Right One In’ reinvented horror in the vampire genre, this movie introduces genuine humour into the genre. Highly recommended.

Kill the Messenger (2014) [ IMDB: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 78%, My Rating: 7/10]

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Trailer:

Gary Webb was a journalist who wrote about the possibility of a nexus between CIA and drug cartels. (Spoilers ahead) Shortly afterwards, he was fired from his job and he couldn’t ever find work as a journalist. Finally he committed suicide. This movie traces the work of Gary Webb. Jeremy Renner does justice to the fallen journalist in a very complex role. Some of the mainstream newspapers have vehemently contested the stories published by Gary Webb branding them as inaccurate. More than solving anything, that only adds to the aura of a person who fought the establishment. This movie is not a comfortable one to watch but there is a reason why it has been made. Recommended.

Mr. Turner (2014) [IMDB:7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, My Rating: 8.5]

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Trailer:

Four time Cannes winner and seven time Oscar nominee Mike Leigh’s latest is a sweeping biography of the eccentric painter J.M.W. Turner. Timothy Spall won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his magnificent performance but was snubbed without even a nomination at the Oscars. All the awards hoopla aside, this is a gem of a movie with an accomplished performance from Timothy Spall. He went to the extent of studying how to paint for two years before he essayed this role. Another high point of the movie is the cinematography. The visuals are stunning and in some of the scenes the beauty on screen is something to behold. The movie is a tad slow for mainstream audiences.

The Wedding Ringer (2015) [IMDB: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 72%, My Rating: 6.5]

Wedding Ringer

Trailer:

A socially awkward man who has no friends goes on to hire an agent who can arrange best men for his wedding. If you can accept the lame premise of the movie and drop your standards, there are enough moments to give you a chuckle, if not a laugh. The movie is clearly a Hollywood assembly line production. So if you want to watch a movie when you nothing much to do, this is not a bad option.

Mortdecai (2015) [IMDB: 5.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 37%, My Rating: 3/10]

Mortdecai

Trailer:

Nothing succeeds like success. Sometimes the success is detrimental to your future. Johhny Depp was wildly successful as Captain Jack Sparrow and has been trying to unshackle that image ever since. So far, he has been unsuccessful and ventures like this one are not going to help his cause. With a title which is difficult to pronounce (it is pronounced as ‘mor-dekai’) and a story which is difficult to digest, this is a movie the audiences didn’t care to see. For those interested in the plot, imagine an art dealer, Russians, British, terrorists, a wife and fake accents. Mix them up.

Good Kill (2014) [IMDB: 6.3, Rotten Tomatoes:8%, My Rating:6.5/10]

Good Kill

Trailer:

Ethan Hawke stars as a drone pilot who finds himself at odds with the work assigned to him. It is a movie about moral dilemma and how to address the feeling of guilt. Nothing extraordinary happens on the screen and nothing terrible happens on the screen. An average movie that is happy in its mediocrity.

Taken 3 (2015) [IMDB:6.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 9%, My Rating: 2/10]

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Trailer:

The angry middle aged man Liam Neeson returns to another installment of a phenomenally successful  franchise. He is accused of a murder he has not committed. Obviously, he has to absolve himself and you know that he will. You can sleep and get up five minutes before the end. You won’t miss anything. In fact, sleeping would be a better way of using your time.

Documentary of the Week

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014) [IMDB: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, My Rating: 8/10]

Internet's Own Boy

Trailer:

Aaron Swartz committed suicide at the age of 26. He was the co-founder of Reddit and one of the developers of RSS. He stood up for freedom on the internet and he was pursued by the authorities. His story.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Water Diviner’ with Russel Crowe on the Battle of Gallipoli.

Did you know: ‘Titanic’ holds the record for consecutive weeks at the top of US Box office (15) but E.T. beats it by one in total weeks at Number One.