Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hugo (2011)

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers:  John Logan, Brain Selznick(Book)
Cast:      Johnny Depp, Chloe Mortez, Jude Law, Ben Kingsley
Martin Scorsese's adaptation of historical fiction book 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret' is set for release November this year. It was filmed in London and Paris.

Baran (2001)

Director:   Majid Majidi
Writer:      Majid Majidi
Language: Persian
Lateef, played by Hossein Abedini is a 17 year old who works in a building site in Tehran as a cook. When a young Afghan called Rahmat comes to work and replaces Lateef as the cook he feels animosity. But is gives way to fondness when he accidentally discovers Rahmat's secret. The film is beautifully acted and Hossein Abedini had played Mehrollah's friend Lateef's role in Pedar. He had impressed me in Pedar but in this film he goes up a knotch.

Rating: 4/5

Spring,summer,autumn,winter and spring (2003)

Director:  Kim Ki-Duk
Writer:     Kim Ki-Duk
The entire film takes place in an isolated lake where an old monk lives in a floating temple. The monk has a boy with him whose growth to a wise monk is shown in the film by different phases of year as the different phases in his life.

The film's visuals are great and the meditative nature of the film occasionally  interrupted by some violent scenes gets rightly transcended into the audiences' mood. Its certainly more than a good film but I thinks its generally overrated by many.

Rating: 3.5/5

Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Director: Michael Mann
Writers:  Christopher Crowe, Michael Mann
Cast:      Daniel Day Lewis, Madaline Stowe, Russell Means
The historical film is set in 1757 during the French and Indian war and is adapted from James Fenimore Cooper's novel with the same name. The film is said to owe more to George B. Seitz's 1936 film adaptation than the source novel.

The first half of the film is a bit cliched like most period films but the second half is an all different ball game. The sceneries are just exquisite and Daniel Day Lewis is just great as usual. Overall the film is more than good despite the ordinary first half.

After this film, Michael Mann went onto make two of his best films- Heat(1995) and The Insider(1999). Insider is my third favorite film of all time with great performances from Russell Crowe and Al Pacino. Haven't seen Manhunter yet.

Rating: 3.5/5 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Silence (2013)

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Shusaku Endo (Novel), Jay Cocks
Cast:     Benicio Del Toro, Daniel Day Lewis, Gael Garcia Bernal
The film will be an adaptation from the Japanese historical fiction novel 'Silence'. It is the story of a Jesuit missionary sent to seventeenth century Japan during a time in which Japanese Christians were persecuted by their own government thats set out to wipe off the western influence. I very much liked Scorsese's Last Temptation of Christ and have high hopes for this film. What an incredible set of actors signed up for the film!!! The film is in pre production and tentatively set for a 2013 release.

Scorsese's Hugo Cabret is  set to come out late this year starring Johnny Depp and Chloe Moretz.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pedar (Father) (1996)

Director:    Majid Majidi
Writers:     Majid Majidi, Mehdi Shojai
Language:  Persian

The gritty Iranian film by director Majid Majidi tells the story of Mehrollah and how he comes to terms with his mother's second marriage. The boy had gone to the city to earn money for his mother and sisters after the death of his father. When he comes back to  village he finds out that his mother has married a police officer. Furious Mehrollah, goes back to city with his side kick friend and step father's gun. Father sets out to find them. The story takes many unexpected turns since we are not sure how the characters react in the situations they confront. The film is a really good one. Simple story, well told and well acted.

Rating: 4/5

Tôkyô monogatari (Tokyo Story) (1953)

Director:  Yasujiro Ozu
Writer:     Kogo Noda, Yasujiro Ozu
Language: Japanese
The film is set after the world war in Tokyo where an old couple comes for a visit to see their children and grand children and find that their now married children are too busy with the life in city to spare time for them. The greatest beauty of the film is that everything is shown in a very subtle way without any sentimentality and there is no tear jerking. I think the people from eastern world, especially India will relate to the story very well as we ourselves are experiencing a growth similar to what Japan experienced after world war. The film shows the change in dynamics of the relationships in the society. Another film I have seen from 50s in Japanese is Akira Kurosawa's 'Ikiru' which has bureaucratic corruption and loneliness in modern world as its theme. This film is also very relevant to modern India.

My Rating: 4.5/5

A Dangerous Method (2011)

Director: David Cronenberg
Writer:    Christopher Hampton
Starring:  Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Vincent Cassel
A Dangerous Method is set for release on late 2011. Its a historical film looking at the relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. Freud was the mentor for Carl Jung and in the film Mortensen Plays the former and Fassbender the latter. Meaning to read Freud's 'Interpretation of Dreams' for a long time, but not managed so far. Looking forward to the film. What an impressive lineup of actors!!! The film will be the third partnership between Mortensen and Cronenberg after 'A History of Violence' and 'Eastern Promises' which were both very good films.

Originally Christoph Waltz was set to play Freud but due to scheduling conflicts he opted for 'Water for Elephants'. Its a shame.

I think the film will have a German Version and English version shot separately.


Director: David Cronenberg
Writer:    David Cronenberg
Starring:  James Woods, Deborah Harry, Sonja Smits
Film tells the story of a sleazy cable TV producer who is intrigued by a potential new show for the channel- videodrome. Its apparently a real life torture show which he finds through pirate satellite. The film then shows his descend into schizophrenia while he tries to get hold of the producers of the show. The Canadian director has directed several mindfucks like eXistenZ, Crash which I have seen and others like Fly. Videodrome is a good film that has not aged well. The acting especially by James Woods is intentionally over the top and the film feels like a dark comedy. Its definitely worth a watch.

Universal has acquired the rights for a remake and I guess this is a film that could be improved for our times under a good director.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Verdict (1982)

Director: Sidney Lumet
Writers:  David Mamet (Screenplay), Barry Reed (Novel)
Starring: Paul Newman, Jack Warden

The film tells the story of an ambulance catcher lawyer whose career is floundering taking up a case for a patient in coma against the hospital responsible for it. Cannot call it a court room drama as the length of film in the court is very less, nevertheless those few minutes are the highlight of the film with Paul Newman at his best.
The story looked a bit cliched but it could be like the other films made after getting influenced. It certainly worth a watch is more than a good film.

A word on director Sidney Lumet who passed away last month, he is truly one of the greatest with such great films like Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men, Network and Serpico. His last film 'Before the devil knows you're dead' was also a very decent film.
Rating: 3.5/5

 PS: What about Al Pacino's run in a matter of 3 years- Serpico, Godfather 1, Dog Day afternoon and Godfather 2

Badlands (1973)

Director: Terrence Malick
Writer:    Terrence Malick
Starring:  Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek
Badlands is the film debut by the director Terrence Malick. The film's idea is loosely based on the real life murder spree Charles Starkweather and his girl friend in 1958.
The film is different from other films on serial killing (if you really call it that) in the sense that while most others concentrate on the investigation and the fear generated in the masses, this film is just an account from the other side which would show to us that murders were committed by a trigger happy when faced with vulnerable circumstances. The score of the film is fantastic and one piece is used in the film 'True Romance' which also is a couple road movie.

All in all, Badlands is cool film with a very cool Martin Sheen, whom described it as the best role of his career.

Rating: 4.5/5

2001: A Space Odyssey(1968)

Director:      Stanley Kubrick
Screenplay:  Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C  Clarke
Starring:       Keir Dullea

I got to watching this magnificent film again, from Stanley Kubrick, whom I consider as the greatest director of all time. This in my opinion is the greatest sci-fi film of all time you do really wonder how this film could be created in 1967. Fantastic visuals, gob smacking sets and an ambiguous story to boot.

Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke collaborated on the screenplay and Arthur came out with the novel Sentinel as a by product. The novel is said to give a more clearer plot whereas in the film Stanley leaves the audience to make their own interpretations. There are some scenes in the film when you clearly see where from some of the scenes in Inception are inspired from.

2001 is a must watch for any serious film fan and it was made during the 7 years of pure film making genius from Stanley Kubrick starting from 1964 (Dr. Strangelove) to 1971 (Clockwork Orange).
Rating: 5/5

Tree of Life, directed by Terrence Malick

Tree of life starring Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain has won Palme d'Or at the Cannes this year. The film has come out in US and is directed by the reclusive director Terrence Malick who has directed 5 films so far in a career spanning almost 30 years. I have seen Badlands, Days of Heaven and Thin Red Line which were all brilliant.

The title of the film, the biblical 'Tree of Life' was also seen as a concept used in Darren Aronofsky's film 'The Fountain'.

This new film from the brilliant director Terrence Malick sounds really promising. Should get down to watching 'The New World' with Colin Farrell which came out in 2004. Another film which is untitled is set to come out next year from Terrence. That films has Javier Bardem, Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck Among others. Great to know that Terrence is making up for lost time, hopefully without compromising on quality.