Week 9

Movies: Non- English

The Breath (Turkey, 2009) [IMDB: 7.8/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 82%]

nefes-vatan-sagolsun-filmi-izle

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arfWbfewMI0

Turkey may be in the spotlight currently for all the wrong reasons but they do make some fine movies. One of the finest to come out of this culturally rich nation is ‘The Breath’. The story of a group of men defending an outpost high in the mountains is not a conventional story. The fact that they have delusions and suicidal tendencies in a bitterly cold environment is understandable but what stands out is the excellent cinematography. Some of the memorable scenes include the torn flag fluttering in the wind and men typing on a typewriter on a wasteland of ice. I don’t know whether they shot on location. The team deserves an ovation if they did. If they put a set which makes it look as good as the location, they deserve more than an ovation.

Volver (Spain, 2006) [IMDB: 7.6/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%]

Volver_Poster

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

Pedro Almodovar is in fine form in this light film which has his muse Penelope Cruz in one of her better performances. I must say that when I first saw this movie I was not really impressed as I was focusing on the mother-daughter equation which forms the crux of the movie. Later I found out that the people in the Iberian peninsula really liked the film and a teacher of mine at the Delhi University who was from Portugal had a discussion on the film with me, which gave a new perspective. Well, the new perspective was that don’t take it very seriously and start believing in a little bit of magic in real life.

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly (France, 2007) [IMDB: 8.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%]

The_Diving_Bell_and_the_Butterfly_DVD

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G69Zh7YIg8c

This is one of the most inspirational movies I have ever seen. Based on a true story, it shows a man who has his full body paralyzed except for one eye which he can blink, go on to write a marvelous best selling book. The movie is good but not fantastic. It may sound cliched but if there is one movie which can be an advertisement for the triumph of human spirit, this is the one. See it to know about the most original book ever written in the toughest circumstances.

Hollywood Retrospective

Zodiac (2007) [IMDB: 7.7/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

zodiac

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6q_MfcDEEE

This film is not sufficiently old to merit a retrospective but then it is one of the best thrillers I have ever seen. A journalist following the case of a serial murderer gets too involved with the case that he becomes part of the story. The story is based on true events. Aside from the investigation which is told in top rate style, the movie also focuses on real world difficulties when the time span of a case spans decades. A movie for the intelligent viewer who can appreciate the nuances of story telling. I was surprised that the movie was not even nominated at the Oscars. ‘Zodiac’ will walk into my list of all time best thrillers with ease.

Road to Perdition (2002) [ IMDB: 7.7/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%]

road-to-perdition-poster

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1iCd___dNY

Boasting of a stellar cast with the likes of Paul Newman, Tom Hanks, Jude Law and Daniel Craig, this is probably the best gangster movie after ‘The Godfather’. Shot exquisitely by Conrad L. Hall (which incidentally won him his third Oscar posthumously), the movie has an engaging story to tell. The actors have given their heart out to the film and it shows. Some of the scenes ooze quality. The finely choreographed shooting in the rain with just the background score to aid is one hell of a memorable scene. Another one is when Tom Hanks leaves the lift in a hurry. The speech at a remembrance is another top notch moment. I could go on and on because I am a huge fan of the movie. If you like classy movies with great dialogues and strong performances, ‘Road to Perdition’ is a must watch.

Movies I Saw This Week

Jack Reacher (2013) [IMDB: 7.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 6.9%]

jack reacher

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK7y8Ou0VvM

The tagline says; ‘The law has its limits. He does not’. That may be true for the movie but not for Tom Cruise’s acting which is severely low on the range factor. Right from his ‘Top Gun’ days, his range is restricted to having a red nose when he has to show rage or anxiety or even plain cold. No wonder he has not landed an Oscar after futile attempts like ‘The Last Samurai’. However, Cruise is the star of the box office and he can get the cash registers ringing. Fortunately for him, once in a while he does get roles which require more panache than histrionics. Jack Reacher is one such role and definitely worth a watch if you know what to expect.

Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 (India, 2013) [IMDB: 3.7/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 20%]

Yamla-Pagla-Deewana-2

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xhm9Ukkn8eo

I did not know that the first movie in the series was successful enough to warrant a sequel or it could be that the Deols are trying to milk the last penny from the box office. It is an apology for a film and a better option than watching it would be to go and count the waves at the beach. Some of the critics who seem to be influenced by external factors were giving the movie an average rating for this pathetic attempt. One thing I will concede is that unlike most of the Bollywood sequels, it has the same set of characters from the original. That also is the highest praise I can come up for this movie.

Aurangzeb (India, 2013) [IMDB: 6.8/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 55%]

Aurangzeb-2013

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMo9jiUeopc

Buy ticket for one Arjun Kapoor and get one more Arjun Kapoor free. That is the cinematic equivalent of two free trips to Somalia. Even the usually reliable Prithviraj looks off colour. It is left to the veteran Rishi Kapoor to save the day. If you are willing to overlook the fact that there are as many holes in the plot as there are in a sieve, ‘Aurangzeb’ is a one time watch.

Documentary Pick of the Week 

Jesus Camp (2006) [IMDB: 7.5/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%]

Jesus Camp

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_1Jm2_iB7g

‘Catch them young’ could be the motto of any organisation looking at indoctrination. Though the film hits out at Christianity, things are not much different with other religions. The multi-billion recession proof industry of organised religion is taken to the cleaners in this compelling documentary. Disturbing.

Eagerly Waiting For: ‘World War Z’ because Brad Pitt is one actor growing in stature.

Did you know: India is one of the few countries in the world where the Head of the State presents the national film awards.

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Week 6

Movies –  Non-English

The Lovers of the Arctic Circle (Spain, 1998) [ IMDB: 7.6/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 92% ]

lovers_of_the_arctic_circle

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGuV50q0Kp4

Stylishly shot romantic film which is a bit twisted. For all those who believe in love at first sight. It is rather funny how the same incident is strikingly different when recollected by a man and then by a woman. A story in which everything happens in circles which basically means that nothing ends, including love. As The New York Times put it, ‘madly romantic’.

Days of Glory (Algeria, 2006) [IMDB: 7.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 82%]

Days of Glory

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_EuwDYfA-M

The only movie I know which made a government revisit its laws and rightly restore their rights to African soldiers who fought under the French flag in the Second World War. I had seen this movie in New Delhi during a film festival and it left a lasting impression. The movie has some excellent scenes as is evident in the trailer but what stands out is the style of movie making. The movie evidently has a grouse against the French government but the story telling is at times so engaging that you stop paying attention to it. The story follows the life of four African men who fight to liberate France from Nazi oppression. The movie received a standing ovation at the film festival when I saw it.

Life is Beautiful (Italy, 1997) [IMDB: 8.5/10, Rotten tomatoes: 96%]

life is

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16RZHqCIy9M

I am putting this movie here because if you have not seen it, you should probably start watching foreign language movies with this one. Undoubtedly, a masterpiece which will leave you happy but with a tinge of sadness. It tells the story of a Jewish family who end up in a concentration camp. Humour is the last thing you will look for in a concentration camp but the father must resort to every trick he can pull to keep his son’s spirit up.  It is an original piece of work with some of the most creative scenes ever. One of the saddest scenes I have scene on screen is when the father goes to meet his patron at the dinner in the hope of finding an escape from the camp and what ensues. ‘Life is Beautiful’ will easily walk into any movie list for the best movies ever made.

Hollywood Retrospective

A Christmas Story (1983) [ IMDB: 8.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%]

a christmas story

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

One of the cutest films ever made that will take you back to your childhood. A kid wants a gift for Christmas. That is the story of the movie but then it is Christmas and there are lot of things that are bothering his parents. The acting is almost perfect and more than anything you are swept off your feet by the simplicity of the movie. Definitely the best movie on Christmas.

Bananas (1971) [IMDB: 7.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%]

bananas

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xyqm-wWnX0A

Woody Allen’s little known gem. Hilarious to the hilt. Uproariously funny. Only Woody Allen can come up with insane ideas and then make it look respectable on screen. The best political satire I have seen on the big screen.

Movies I Saw This Week

Side Effects (2013) [IMDB: 7.2/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 85% ]

side

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFEou3MBLi4

A genuine thriller. What starts as a drama on the pharma industry soon turns into a thriller. The story revolves around a young woman who has unexpected side effects after taking pills prescribed by her doctor. Writing more about it is difficult without giving hints about the story. Certainly one of the better films of 2013.

I Give It a Year (2013) [IMDB: 6.0/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 63%]

i give

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od8DhL1hyfw

Tries too hard to be funny but it does have some funny moments. It is usually the oddball characters who spice up a comedy but here they are more irritating than funny. After a point the jokes get tedious. The title and story are derived from the fact that the movie maps the first year of a marriage. An average attempt.

Restless (2011) [IMDB: 6.6/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 50%]

rest

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EnEBEZNkB4

Terminally ill girl meets a boy who likes attending funerals. A theme that has been done to death. Gus Van Sant’s weakest film in years. The movie literally bores you to death. Acting is insipid and most of the scenes are tasteless. Trying to get some intellectual gravitas by having a kamikaze pilot is the most pathetic plot device I have seen in a long time.

Go Goa Gone (2013) [IMDB: 7.2/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 55%]

go goa

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4V5zGNVRmaE

The early voting patterns at IMDb are usually unreliable for wide releases. It holds true for this movie too where things start promisingly but then tapers off like all the previous ventures by the director duo. There are some funny dialogues in the beginning but then it gets too dry even to interest zombies. It must be said that the producers deserve a pat on their back for putting their money on an unconventional idea.

Documentary pick of the week

Capturing the Friedmans (2003) [IMDB: 7.9/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%]

captu

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVY4ehqJjAA

A family which seems like any other is rocked to its core when two of its members are arrested for horrible crimes. The title is a pun. The story is sad. The documentary is a must watch.

Eagerly waiting for: ‘Captain Phillips’ because it has Tom Hanks.

Did you know: Cutthroat Island (2005) is the biggest flop movie ever according to ‘The Guinness Book of World Records’. Adjusted for inflation, it lost $ 146 million.