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La crise (1992)
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Another Coline Serreau film with Vincent London. Similar to previous two I have seen, this one also has a surrealistic bent.
It tries to show a mirror to our society And the reflection that we see is not pretty.
While I liked this film, I was not blown over by it as I was Chaos and "La Belle Verte". Both of them by same director and both a little surrealistic in nature. Maybe I was not in mood for the film and I may have to watch it again.
Still it is a good film. And Vincent London has done a fine job as always.
Shonen jidai (1990)
Excellent coming of age Japanese drama during second World War
Childhood Days is a very realistic portrayal of bullying. And by realistic I mean that both the bully and the bullied are shown to very human instead of being good or bad. It is very refreshing for a change and also it suddenly dawned on me, how incomplete and even wrong a narrative is if you are showing a bullying preteen to be evil as most films related to this topic often do.
I guess we are used to watching fights between good and evil in all our media whether it is fairy tales, television, books, films or even religion. There has to be a protagonist and an antagonist. Thankfully Childhood Days is different in that regard.
Childhood Days depicts the problem of bullying faced by a city kid who has to temporarily move to village. But the relationship between the two boys, the bully and the bullied is very hard to pin down. There is a camaraderie mixed with fear and admiration with a sort of helplessness. It is a very real relationship which is hard to describe, just as many real relationships are. Also along with the bullying it is a very nice coming of age story.
I know that the above review may not make the film sound really good. Nevertheless it is really a gem of a film. And if you are into films of Ozu or Naruse, I would strongly recommend it.
Antithesis of La Règle du jeu
All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players. - Shakespeare.
To really understand the above statement you have to actually see the instances when the players refuse to play their parts, even if momentarily. Renoir did it in "La Règle du jeu". People playing different roles - master and servant, husband and lover, poacher and grounds-keeper, break for their roles and connect with each other. It is one of the most beautiful movies ever made and has been in AFI Top 10 since it was released.
Faces is the anti-thesis of "La Règle du jeu". Here to the player stop playing their parts but instead of connecting with each other, they distance themselves from each other. So we have husband and wife, married woman and a gigolo, married man and a prostitute, all breaking their roles but to distance themselves even more from each other. In process they reveal how the very roles are a sham, that we just play out of habit, convenience and society. It challenges our very lives.
Of course, this makes for a very nasty picture but with incredible moments of truth. It is very honest and very depressing and a very hard watch while still being fascinating. Its the kind of picture that you appreciate more than you enjoy.
Badkonake sefid (1995)
Liked it on my second watch
I hated this film when I saw it first time. I though that the little girl was a brat. But as I was watching it this time, I realized how unfair that was. She was just a girl.
I guess we are so used to watching adorable and cute kids in films, that a selfish kid seems so unlikable. But kids are like that. Selfish and impatient and whining. Once I accepted that I was laughing at her antics.
I loved the film but it lost me in the scene, when the girl's brother and the afghan kid fight. I mean there was no reason for that. I think in real life, the brother would have at least asked the afghan kid for the stick and wouldn't have just snatched it. Maybe it was done to evoke a conflict. But even one false scene can break the illusion that is Cinema.
One of the most honest films, I have seen.
As a kid, I used to think that some of the thoughts I was having were unique to me. I didn't see any of those things in mass media. But slowly and slowly as I read more and I see more films, that set of things that were unique only to me have been reducing in size. Fateless just destroyed that set.
I love movies. They move me, excite and sometimes literally live me breathless. Fateless just shook me up. It struck a chord somewhere deep inside. It revived the memories that I thought I had forgotten, the feelings that I had buried somewhere deep in my psyche.
All the credit has to go to Imre Kertész, the writer of the original source as well as the screenplay writer. He has written an account that is so painfully honest and bold that it breaks through all the clichés of depictions of pain and sorrow, not just in literature and film but in life too.
After a long time I am just itching to get my hands on a book. Don't know when I will take it up though.
Parash Pathar (1958)
Misfire from Ray
I am an ardent Ray fan and I till now I have seen 14 of his movies and loved 13 of them. Only one that I didn't love is Parash Pathar.
Satyajit Ray is my favorite filmmaker and all of his movies are master pieces. It is hard to find a fault in any of his movies. Acting is always very good, yet subtle. Background score is never over the top. There is no cheap melodrama and the viewer is encouraged to make his own conclusions. Even a minor actor not acting up to par has a jarring effect. It is like watching a blemish on an extraordinary piece of art.
So I was quite surprised by this movie, as the lead character Paresh Chandra Dutt was overacting a lot. So were some other actors. While in almost all Ray's movies characters are very real here they are caricatures instead and there is no subtlety to be found. Also the story never took an unexpected turn, it is another morality tale centered around philosopher's's stone. Though you can find Ray's touches here and there, there are not enough of them to save the film.
Though it a good film when compared with other Indian films of the same period, it doesn't in any way compares with Ray's other movies. I would recommend it only to Ray's die hard fans like me. Though I didn't really liked the movie I didn't consider it a waste of time either.
The Social Network (2010)
Too trivial and irritating for me
I think that a background score is meant to enhance the movie. A good background score never steals attention from the movie but complements it. So judging by that I think the soundtrack for this movie was one of the worst I ever heard. And of course they gave the movie an Oscar for it, maybe because it was so revolutionary and broke all the norms.
The movie itself was so trivial and so close to real life to get any enjoyment out of. Dialog was grating on my nerves and reminded me of some of the real life obnoxious guys I know. People who enjoy an argument just for sake of an argument.
When I started watching the movie, the first couple of minutes were good, the dialog was real but it got old real fast. Its all too petty and everybody is griping about something.
Elmer Gantry (1960)
Nothing New, but saved by the acting
Elmer Gantry had nothing new for me in terms of plot. So I was looking forward to good acting to tide me over. Burt Lancaster won an Oscar for his role in this film. But frankly his performance was a bit hammy at times. Certain scenes did require a hammy performance, especially when he was preaching but he did that a lot. Jean Simmons was a delight though. I am a big fan of Audrey Hepburn and she reminds me of her. So that maybe a big reason why I liked her.
Another thing that I didn't like was the character Elmer Gantry. The audience is never given a clear picture of him. Is he just a conman or good guy ? Instead he is shown as something of a conman with heart of gold. He just switches between good and bad so fast that I was sometimes left puzzled.
The Japanese Wife (2010)
"The Japanese Wife" is about two pen-pals, Snehmoy and Miyagi, but the movie is told mostly from view of Snehmoy. Snehmoy is a is teacher who lives in Bengal, India and Miyagi is a shop-keeper who lives with her sick mother and takes care of her. Their friendship grows in letters and when Snehmoy aunt insists on his marrying a girl of her choice, Miyagi propose marriage to Snehmoy. He accepts and they trade some token of marriage like a ring and vermilion through letters. They consider themselves married and due to the circumstances they don't meet for 15 years.
I am a sucker for love stories, but this movie was beyond stupid. First, as a viewer you don't feel a bond between them. Both of them are from different cultures and they write letters in broken English. Since these letters form nearly 30 minutes of the movie, they really grated on me. "84 Charing Cross Road" is another movie that mostly moves forward through letters, and they are a delight to listen. Here it is a chore to go through. Still even if we accept that they have a bond and they decide to marry each other without a single meeting, they don't meet each other even after that sham of a marriage.
Stone of Destiny (2008)
A Lot of Potential, but ultimately a let down
This movie had a great premise, and it could have been a great movie if executed properly. But nothing clicks here.
It is part drama and part heist movie. The heist part was really really boring. I have seen a lot of heist movies and it takes something clever to hold my interest. Sadly this was not it.
Then there is the drama part. It is let down by an average acting. If Stone of Destiny had better actors, we could have been interested in their fates, but not here. The script is also pretty weak. Instead of feeling like a nationalist act, it actually feels like a high school prank. Most of all there is no energy in the film. With a topic like nationalism, a movie can easily rouse the audience and make them identify with the actors. Not here, we are just watching and waiting for the whole thing to end.
Wang-ui namja (2005)
Quiet an Amazing movie that straddles different genres
It is difficult to compartmentalize "The King and the Clown". It is part drama, part comedy, part forbidden love story and part artistic freedom struggle all combined into a wonderful period movie. One of the best things I liked about this movie is that all the characters are shades of gray. Whether it is the King or the clown, you find yourself agreeing with them at one point and rooting against them at the next.
It starts at a very light note and becomes dramatic towards the end. But it never becomes preachy or soapy. There are no explicit messages here. This film has a homosexual angle so I was surprised to read that it was a big hit in Korea. I guess a good movie can triumph against all odds. A must-see for all cinephiles.
Matando Cabos (2004)
Very Very Entertainting
This is a very entertaining films which is similar in pace and style to Snatch and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels". There are many improbable situations and improbable characters. But it still has small hold on reality so it never becomes idiotic. It is still a big madcap adventure in which lot of stuff goes.
The pace of the movie is fantastic and there is always something happening. There is lot of violence and sex. Lot of bad things happen but it is always funny and I don't mean smiling black comedy funny, I mean ha ha funny.
Acting is very balanced, there are many good characters but none of the actors have tried to outshine others. A must see movie if you like Guy Ritchie's brand of cinema.
Middling Star Vehicle
This movie just serves as a star vehicle for Barbra Streisand. While it has a credible plot that kept me watching till the end, it is very contrived film. When the movie starts Barbra's lawyer is trying to prove to a judge that she is mentally ill, so that her parents are saved the embarrassment of a public trial, which will surely reveal that their daughter is a hooker.
She punches her lawyer who abandons the case and the judge appoints a new lawyer for her. But even though she is sane, she doesn't really acts like that. She is openly hostile to her lawyer who is trying to help and refuses to submit to an independent psychological examination that can help her case. When the hearing starts she constantly interrupts it. And somehow the judge never holds her in contempt but just keeps giving her warning after warning.
I do realize that she was a victim of child abuse and she is angry, but she is a big girl and is living as hooker for past 3 years. So I found the the whole affair very fake.
13 game sayawng (2006)
Good Idea, Bad Movie
This movie has a very good idea. A normal man who is desperately in need of money is given a chance to earn a huge amount if he goes through a series of increasingly difficult challenges. But the movie is let down by inconsistencies and plot holes and bad execution.
Inconsistencies are everywhere.The main protagonist is given the task to make three kids cry. He does so by taking a toy from a child. There are two female teachers present there. On witnessing the incident, they chase after him and then tell a guard to chase after him. Then they go to a police station to file a complaint and behave in a hysterical way. They demand a gun so that they can shoot the guy. Seriously ! all because the guy took a toy from a kid. The madness doesn't ends here. Apparently the Thai police think that since the guy has punched a colleague after he was fired and then beat up a beggar, he is some sort of huge threat. So they announce it on T.V. Wow, if that is realistic, then Thailand must have no crime to warrant a reaction like this.
As I wrote earlier it has a good idea but the execution makes the whole thing unbelievable and contrived. You are acutely aware that you are watching a movie. And some minor actors do a bad job which doesn't help matters either.
Avoid it unless you are a big fan of Mammootty
I saw this movie because it has won a National Award. So I had high expectations from this movie. But it turned out to be a big disappointment. It is one of those star vehicles that is made just to showcase the talent of star with any stress on overall film.
Mammootty is a boat captain who lives three lives and lives with three different women. At all three places he maintains a different look and accent. Thats it. There is no conflict. The plot is just a pretext for Mammootty to show his acting talents, acting as three slightly different persons with different accents. This is not my cup of tea. Yes, I have seen many movies that are acting oriented but they have a credible plot. This one doesn't. After each woman tells her story, the movie ends.
By the way, Kamalinee Mukherjee as Pemanna did a good job and she was the reason why I didn't stopped watching this movie sooner.
Clichéd Tripe with a transparent and predictable plot. Only Saving Grace - Pankaj Kapur
Dharm starts off good. It builds on high expectations. Acting is particularly good especially by veteran Pankaj Kapur. It has got nice visuals. The location is Banaras one of most holy cities of hindu religion and you are pulled into a different world.
But the movie goes sharply downhill. Pankaj Kapur plays Pandit Chaturvedi who is a Brahmin priest in a temple. He represents old India, one who still believes in untouchability and upper castes and lower castes. The old India which still lives in many corners if India. His daughter finds and infant one day and on pressure from his wife he keeps the infant with him at his home.
The point when his daughter brings the kid home I could predict what was going to happen, not in minute detail, but still to a large extent. And the movie was so clichéd it didn't prove me wrong. I have seen so many of similar kind of movies, with simplistic and transparent plot which are about brotherhood and values. Don't get me wrong I completely agree with the message of the film and yes we need more films of this type. But as a movie it is a failure. We have got better movies that along with giving a message manage to entertain us, move us and delight us.
By the way till now, there is not even a single negative review about the movie. I though I was the only one who disliked the movie. But I checked the Top 1000 voters and they have given it a rating of 3.8.
Sucker Punch (2011)
Sci-Fi Guilty Pleasure which could have been much better
Zack Snyder's latest venture is surely something to look at. It seems that he did an internet poll for gamers, sci-fi fans, geeks etc and then made the movie tailor-made for them. Its got steam-punk, ninja warriors, dragons, planes and last but not the least babes. Action is just breathtaking in some scenes. For a gamer like me there are hints of Mortal Combat and Unreal Tournament and everything else I wanted.
Story idea is decent. The main protagonist is Baby Doll who is a mental patient in a facility. But she imagines it as a kind of sleazy club where girls dance for the customers and then the customers can use those girls. And when she starts dancing she imagines it as elaborate fight scenes in a different world. So it is a fantasy with in a fantasy, and the three layers overlap.
Now for the cons. The only thing missing is a strong connection between the actors and the audience. We see them going through the motions but we never root for them. We just love some action scenes and the rest seems like background noise. Sucker Punch works more in parts rather than as a whole. And the disappointment you feel is more because of missed opportunities. With a better script and better actors it could have become a sci-fi classic. Instead it is just a summer blockbuster.
Hogaraka ni ayume (1930)
First Disappointing Ozu film I have seen
Ozu is one of my top 3 directors and I have just loved all his movies I have seen till now except this one. "I Was Born, But..." which was made just 2 years after this movie was a delightful surprise. It was a comedy/drama centered around kids. Compared with that it feels like it is inspired from western movies. And Ozu's doesn't seems to have a developed a strong style of his own.
Ozu's later movies are very similar in topic to each other. But they are never clichéd. He delights in subverting the genres and breaking the established norms. But "Walk Cheerfully" is very clichéd. Yes, there are few Ozu touches but as such it is not an Ozu movie.
Of course this is just the start of his career. But it just goes to show me that even he made bad movies. This movie is average if you consider the time it was made in. But compared to other Ozu movies it is just awful. I wouldn't recommend this to his fans.
Kakushi ken oni no tsume (2004)
Samurai Movie in Ozu Style
This is the second movie I have seen directed by Yoji Yamada. The first one was Twilight Samurai which I really loved. This one is also nearly as good. My only complain is that it is too similar to Twilight Samurai. Yamada movies seem to be inspired by Ozu's. But while Ozu movies don't feel similar even when they are, Yamada's movies do feel similar. Nevertheless it is treat.
Hidden Blade is a hybrid samurai/family drama, with very little action. I love this movie because it defies many aspects associated with those movies. Primary of course is the violence. Here the protagonist is a samurai who finds violence distasteful and treats it as a last resort. He is a good swordsman but never boastful or ambitious, and is content with his relatively low status.
When the fight does happen, he strikes his opponent with a move that seems cowardly. He almost turns his back to his opponent but just when his opponent strikes he turns swiftly both dodging and striking at the same time. His opponent calls the move cowardly, but if the opponent was so honor bound he wouldn't have struck him while he was turning his back. So the move only works on somebody who is opportunistic.
But this movie is not about action, it is a family drama. It is a forbidden love story between the protagonist and his maid who belong to different castes and hence cannot marry. It is wonderfully shot and you actually feel that is made in 50's. There are no fast action flourishes associated with modern movies, instead it is more faithful to how people actually used to fight and live in that time.
Le trou (1960)
Le Trou is an amazing movie that is as fresh as when it was released more than 50 years ago. I have seen my share of prison escape movies but none have been able to come close to this in showing the nitty-gritty of the mechanics of escape.
As the movie starts you are aware that you are watching something very different. In start everything seems to play in real-time. And when the digging for escape starts we are aware that these are not just actors who are pretending to dig or just removing the soft soil. They are actually breaking through the floor. Maybe to some it may not sound like much but after watching so many movies, still getting this amazed by something is a high point for me.
Jacques Becker actually employed ex-convicts who tried the escape as technical experts in the movie and it shows. Everything is painstakingly detailed and real. While many things are shown in real-time, the movie is an edge of seat thriller where you always get a sense of foreboding. There are many close brushes.
I loved it from the start to the end. No clichés anywhere.
The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
A Movie is more than sum of its parts
This movie has lot of ingredients I normally hate like over the top background score and an over the top melodramatic story and the songs. But I loved this movie. Because all these ingredients combine to form a dish that is much greater than the sum of its parts.
Music is the highlight here of course as it is a musical. It is just amazing and sets the mood for the whole movie. It actually feels like an additional character. Sets and costumes are opulent and a treat to look at. Camera-work is masterful. I was just hooked from the time when black white is changed to color and the movie transitions into past for the first time. And the movie never lets you go.
I was initially skeptical about Emmy Rossum's acting abilities. I didn't expect her to deliver a performance in keeping with the movie but she surprised me. Gerald Butler was good as always.
I Am a Sex Addict (2005)
An okay watch, but could have been much better
I really liked this movie when it started. It is quirky and funny and very different with a style of its own. It is low budget but made in style with lot of disclaimers so that even the low budget becomes a plot point. In many respects it is similar in style to "Private Parts" which was a movie about Howard Sterns. I loved that movie. But unlike that movie which had a story to tell, this one doesn't.
It just comes across as a collection of incidents rather than a whole story. And it is awfully repetitive. Also after watching it for some time you get more and more tired of the narcissistic director/lead of the movie. I do think that the movie has potential and is still worth a watch. But frankly it could have been much better, especially with a better script.
Her Sey Çok Güzel Olacak (1998)
Not for non-Turkish audience
I have started watching Turkish movies just recently. I have watched "Babam Ve Oglum" and Mutluluk and both were amazing. So, I decided to watch more Turkish movies. But frankly this was a huge disappointment. This movie has a very high rating and I just can't understand why. I never laughed once. There are some comedy movies which I don't like but at least you can guess why others might have liked it. Maybe it is black comedy or it is too slapstick for my taste or something like that. Here I couldn't get anything.
I thought that I was the only one who disliked it, but I saw the top 1000 voters and they have given it an average rating of 5.2. Maybe Turkish humor is too quaint for outsiders. or Maybe it is just lost in translation, I don't know.
How to Eat Fried Worms (2006)
Only for kids
This movie has an interesting premise and all the actors have done a good job. But there is not enough plot to make it past 40 minute mark. However movies just goes on one hour after that by repeating the same things again and again.
I can't argue with the intentions of the movie. It is a very well intended and sweet family film. It is about bullying and friendship and about kids being kids. But there is a lot of repetition. I think I would have loved it if it had more plot wise.
As it stands now, I would recommend it only for kids. Adults are just going to get bored after half an hour.
Just Go with It (2011)
Don't Go With It
I was already familiar with the plot of the movie as I have seen one version of it earlier. So nothing was new for me in terms of plot. Still I was expecting this movie to pull through because of Adam Sandler. Sadly this was not the case.
First of all the premise itself is not good. Adam Sandler is a bachelor carries a fake wedding ring and pretends to be in a dying marriage to get laid. However when he meets Brooklyn Decker, he wants to get serious with her. She discovers his fake ring and instead of telling the truth he convinces his receptionist Jennifer Aniston to play his fake wife.
Now here is the thing, what happens when Brooklyn Decker decides to visit him in his office. Wouldn't she notice the wife working in the office ? It is not as if the filmmakers don't know the issue, Jennifer Aniston's character even comments about it in the movie. But no reasonable explanation is given. Then we get fake kids. I am just curious how long would that arrangement have gone on. Would Sandler get visitation rights ?
Well it is comedy and you are supposed to forget about the plot, but regrettably this film has no laughs. Also there is zero chemistry between Sandler and Aniston to justify the ending.