Thursday, July 28, 2011

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Directors: Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones
Writers:    Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Eric Idle
Cast:        Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Eric Idle
In this comedy master piece from the Pythons, King Arthur and his knights embark on a low budget search for the holy grail , encountering many very silly obstacles. Was watching it for the second time and enjoyed it even more. There are many quotable lines.Made at a budget of less than half million dollars it made about 127 million.

Rating: 5/5

Red State (2011)

Director: Kevin Smith
Writer:    Kevin Smith
Cast:      Michael Parks, Melissa Leo, John Goodman
You won't associate Kevin Smith with the horror genre. Well, his new film Red State is a horror thriller set for release on 19th October in US. Quentin Tarantino has seen the film twice and given high praise for it.The plot is given as: Set in middle America, a group of teens receive and online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tyrannosaur (2011)

Director: Paddy Considine
Writer:    Paddy Considine
Cast:       Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan
The film Tyrannosaur will mark the feature film debut for actro/writer Paddy Considine. The film is about a woman looking for a way out from a abusive relationship.

Yi Yi (2000)

Director:   Edward Yang
Writer:      Edward Yang
Language: Mandarin, Taiwanese (Hokkien)
Each member of a Taiwanese middle class family asks hard questions about life as they live through everyday quandaries. Each members are aged such that all of them together represents all the stages of life. The film is very subtle and reminded me of Michael Haneke in a weird way in the sense that usually he depicts middle class families. The film is close to three hours long but conveys a lot about life and won't feel long.

The director Edward Yang won the best director award at the Cannes. The film is also called sometimes as Yi Yi: A one and a two.

Rating: 5/5

The Lady (2011)

Director: Luc Besson
Writer:    Rebecca Frayn
Cast:      Michelle Yeoh, David Thewlis, William Hope

The story of pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi and the academic and writer Michael Aris; a true love story set against political turmoil.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Gangster Squad (2013)

Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writer:    Will Beall
Cast:       Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Giovanni Ribisi
The Gangster Squad is a film from Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer and it is a chronicle of LAPD's fight to keep east coast mafia types out of Los Angeles in th 1940s and 50s. Film is in pre production and set to be completed and released by 2013.

Wonders of the Solar System (2010)

Presenter: Brian Cox
In this science television series produced by BBC and Science channel, physicist professor Brian Cox focuses on an aspect of solar system and features a wonder related to the theme in each episode. It comprises of five episodes:
1) 'Empire of the Sun': This episode illustrates how the formation and behavior of sun affects the other members of the solar system. He visits India to witness a total solar eclipse and Norway to see 'Aurora'/ 'Northern Lights'.
2) 'Order out of Chaos': This episode illustrates the orbits of planets around sun. He explains how tilt of the Earth creates four seasons. He visits Atlas mountains and explain the orbit of Mars when seen from Earth and provides an insight into the rings of Saturn.
3) 'The Thin Blue Line': This episode looks at the atmospheres of different planets and moons in Solar System. There is also an in depth looks at the moon Titan as well as how the earth keeps its temperature in comparison to Mars.
4) 'Dead or Alive': This episode mainly focus on geographical activities in Earth which makes it active, visits Hawaii islands to witness the volcanic activities creating new land mass and Deccan trap in India which was created by volcanic activities. Cox also analyses Jupiter's gravitational impact which ocassionaly throws asteroids into a collision course with earth.
5) 'Aliens': The final episode focus on life surviving in extreme conditions, and how the search of life on other worlds follows the search for water, focusing on Mars and Jupiter's moon Europa.

The program is presented in a way that a lay man can understand things easily. The visuals are stunning an the music used is excellent. Brian Cox was a keyboard player for the pop band D:REAM. His presentation style is also very good and personal.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Road to Perdition (2002)

Director: Sam Mendes
Writers:  Max Allan Collins, Richard Piers, David Self
Cast:      Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Daniel Craig, Tyler Hoechlin, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) was an orphan taken under his wings by mob boss John Rooney (Paul Newman) and is like a son to him. Sullivan's son Michael Sullivan Jr. curious to see what his father do for a living, hides inside his son and witness a murder his father commits along with his boss' son Connor Rooney (Daniel Craig). Determine to eliminate witnesses kills Sullivan's family but the Sullivan father and son escapes and are on the run. Sullivan Sr. is determined to avenge the murders but Connor is protected by his father and mafia of Capone. The rest of the film follows how Sullivan Sr. gets his revenge while Harlen Maguire (Jude Law) is assigned to execute him.

The film is beautifully shot but I thought apart from Hanks and Jude Law other characters weren't that interesting. There are many cliches but the last 15 minutes of the film is excellent.

The film set in 1931 was filmed by Conrad Hall and he received a posthumous oscar for his work in this film. This was also Paul Newman's last feature film and was nominated for best Actor in Supporting role at the Oscars.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, July 22, 2011

Arizona Dream (1993)

Director: Emir Kusturica
Writers:  David Atkins, Emir Kusturica
Cast:      Johnny Depp, Faye Dunaway, Lili Taylor, Vincent Gallo, Jerry Lewis
Axel (Johnny Depp) has a job of tagging fishes in New York city. Axel's cousin Paul   (Vincent Gallo) coaxes him to go to Arizona to attend his uncle Leo's (Jerry Lewis) wedding. Leo persuades Axel to take up the family business of selling Cadillacs. There he encounters two strange women: Elaine, a woman who had aspires to build a  flying machine, and her suicidal step daughter Grace. Axel lusts after Elaine and moves in with them to build the flying machine. Film follows what happens to the three in a surreal comedic way. There are scenes of Paul enacting scenes from North by North West and Godfather 2 which are great.

The film was released throughout Europe but in US it was only given a limited release. All round the entire cast has done a great job and Faye Dunaway consider this to be among her best roles.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Long Way Down (2007)

Creators: Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman, Russ Malkin, David Alexanian, James Simak, Jim Foster, Claudio Von Planta
In a follow up to the series Long Way Round, Ewan and Charley travel from John O'Groats, Scotland down to Cape Town, South Africa on motorcycles. They travel down through Europe (France and Italy) and Africa, getting close with local cultures and visiting various UNICEF projects.

You are bound to compare this to 'Long Way Round', and Ewan and Charley does not seem to be as isolated as they were in LWR. Russ and David in their 4*4 throughout and their is more of a feel like its the full team together the whole way through. It might have been because of the sheer number of countries they are passing through and the perceived danger while travelling through Africa. Ewan's wife also joins them in a motorcycle for a part of the trip and it was interesting.

They are planning a trip from South America to North America this year. Can't wait for this. Could be named 'Long Way Up'.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amélie) (2001)

Director:   Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Writers:    Guillaume Laurent, Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Language: French
Amelie, private home schooled who lives with her widowed father, is an introverted girl. She finds collection of a boy who was living in her apartment in the 50s hidden behind a wall in the bathroom. She decides to return it and after some difficulty he finds him. She is moved by the reaction of the man and decides to help others. Film follows her escapades which ultimately leads to love. The film is set at aftermath of Lady Diana's death.

The film gives lot of laughs intermittently but is a tad long at two hours. Overall its a bit overrated.

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Grindhouse (2007)

Directors: Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez
Writers:    Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez
Cast:        Rose McGowen, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Bruce Willis, Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson
This was my first watch of these in the Grindhouse form having seen them in their separate extended versions earlier. Planet Terror is in the correct length in the Grindhouse version whereas Deathproof is much better in the extended version. The fake trailers by Robert Rodriguez, Eli Roth, Edgar Wright and Rob Zombie are great.

Rating: 3.5/5

Monday, July 18, 2011

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Director: Jared Hess
Writers:  Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess
Cast:      Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez, Jon Gries
Napoleon Dynamite is a geek who is alienated in his school and has an equally geeky family with a awkward brother and an uncle who comes to stay with them. He befriends a Mexican student and tries to win him the Presidency election of the class. The plot looks cliched but its the characters that make this film special. There is a scene after the closing credit which shouldn't be missed. The film was a sleeper hit as it has made 46 million dollars on a budget of 0.4 million. It was Jared Hess feature film debut as a director.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Le Samouraï (1967)

Director:   Jean-Pierre Melville
Writers:    Jean-Pierre Melville, Georges Pellegrin, 
Language: French
Alain Delon stars as Jeff Costello, a cold calculating contract killer, in this minimalist master piece from Jean-Pierre Melville. Jeff is taken in by the police as a suspect after a murder he committed. But he is let off because of an alibi is established and a pianist deliberately choose to not identify him. He is then pursued by the police who are not convinced and his client who want to eliminate him. We realize as the film goes on that the plot is not as simple as we initially thought and there is great set piece in Paris where he is tailed by the Police.

Rating: 4.5/5

Benny's Video (1992)

Director:   Michael Haneke
Writer:      Michael Haneke
Language: German

Its Michael Haneke's second feature film after "The Seventh Continent'. Its about a teenage boy Benny who likes to watch violent videos and filming with his video camera. His parents are well off and his sister lives in a different part of the town. As with most Haneke films its a modern Bourgeoisie family. Benny inadvertently(?) kills a girl he picks up from the video store and later on he lets his parents know about it. The rest of the film shows how they deal with the situation. I thought the ending was slightly a let down but despite that its a brilliant but depressing film.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, July 15, 2011

Viskningar och rop (Cries and Whispers) (1972)

Director:   Ingmar Bergman
Writer:      Ingmar Bergman
Language: Swedish
Agnes (Harriet Anderson) is suffering from cancer and lives in a mansion with her maid Anna (Kari Sylwan). They are joined by her two sisters Karin (Ingrid Thulin) and Maria (Liv Ullmann). Film is set in 19th century and long repressed feelings between the siblings come to the fore over the course of the film and short back stories are given to each characters over the course of the film. Acting of Harriet Anderson is excellent and just by the pain and suffering we are also share it even without knowing the character that much.

Rating: 4.5/5

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer:    Quentin Tarantino
Cast:      Christoph Waltz, Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent, Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger, Daniel Bruhl
Saw the tavern seen in HBO yesterday and had the urge to re watch it again. Think this was my 6th or 7th viewing. This is my third favorite Tarantino film after Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. Humor is excellent and is kind of return to form from QT after Kill Bill and Deathproof. Those two were good films by all means but inferior compared to his other 4 (5 if you include True Romance).

Harvey Kietel's cameo as the negotiating OSS officer's voice is nice as well. Nothing needs to be said about Waltz's performance. Great to hear that he will be there in Django Unchained as well. Can't believe he opted out of 'A Dangerous Method' to do 'Water for Elephants.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Angel, the Brute and the Wise

Director: Franco Nero
Quentin Tarantino is set for a comeback to in front of the camera by starring in Franco Nero's upcoming Western film The Angel, the Brute and the Wise.

El ángel exterminador (The Exterminating Angel) (1962)

Director:   Luis Bunuel
Writer:      Luis Bunuel
Language: Spanish
The Exterminating Angel is a surreal film from the Legendary director Luis Bunuel in which the guests at a dinner party find themselves unable to leave. There is no explanation given for their predicament but the obvious one is that all of them develop a mental barrier which prevents them from leaving. Everyone might be waiting for one of them to leave so that they could follow. We are shown their behavior in the confined space in a dark comedic way with Bunuel's criticism of Bourgeoisie rich coming to the fore again. It was a nice contrast for me compared to the previous film I watched, 'Time of the Wolf'.

In the end of the film a scene in church is shown where the priests and followers face the same predicament as the party guests. This might suggest that Bunuel is showing that the followers of church are also not renouncing their beliefs just like the guests couldn't leave, waiting for someone else to start the procession. Exterminating Angel was done by Luis Bunuel after he returned to Mexico following the controversies generated by 'Viridiana'. Viridiana, Exterminating Angel and Simon of the desert are often described as a Trilogy in which the common theme is criticism of religion and church.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Le temps du loup (Time of the Wolf) (2003)

Director:   Michael Haneke
Writer:      Michael Haneke
Language: French
This is Haneke's effort it depicting travails of a mother (Isabelle Huppert) and her two children in a post apocalyptic world. In the beginning of the film her husband is murdered and their belongings stolen by a stranger in their weekend home. They are left to their own with a bi cycle to find a means to get to the city. They encounter a group of strangers in a railway station where they plan to stop a train which may or may not come. We see Haneke's take on how people would behave in such a situation where their education and upbringing does not matter.

I was reminded of Cormac McCarthy's novel 'Road' (haven't seen the film) and Cuaron's 'Children of Men' while watching the film. Time of the Wolf is very minimalist and depressing and won't be everyone's cup of tea. Isabelle Huppert had earlier collaborated with Haneke in 'The Piano teacher'.

Rating: 4.5/5

Der siebente Kontinent (The Seventh Continent) (1989)

Director:   Michael Haneke
Writer:      Michael Haneke
Language: German
I saw the film without knowing anything other than its Michael Haneke's debut one and was completely blown away by it. I am not giving out any details about the film as its worth watching without any prior idea about the film. It deals with alienation felt by a bourgeoisie family which is evidently Haneke's favorite theme. The title of film refers to Australia, to where the family plan to emigrate to.

There was a very good interview with Haneke about this film available and there is one very interesting bit where he says he warned the producer that there are couple of scenes where the audience would get upset-aquarium one and money flushed down the toilet. The producer told him that the latter won't upset many and guess what, Haneke was right as many walked out after the money scene.

Haneke has gone up fast in my favorite Directors list and I reckon he will be in the top 5 along with Tarantino, Kubrick, Coens and Lynch

Rating: 5/5

Monday, July 11, 2011

Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages (Code Unknown: Incomplete tales of several journeys) (2000)

Director:   Michael Haneke
Writer:      Michael Haneke
Language: French
The film set in Paris shows the lives of three chief protagonists after they are linked by a single event  in the film's beginning. Many films have been made this way lately but Haneke's effort is the best I have seen so far. Amores Perros is another one which came out the same year as this film in 2000. Juliette Bincohe is excellent in her role as an actress in the film.

The film deals with city life anger, immigrant issues, racial issues etc. There are three main protagonists and film consists of several long takes with hardly any music used. The last 30 or so minutes of the film is particularly excellent. Another great thing about the film is at its 110 minutes running time Haneke has managed to tell so much while other films like Babel and Amores Perros have running times close to 150 minutes. I think it will be even better on my next watch as I suspect that there will be many things I missed.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, July 8, 2011

Luna (2013)

Director: Doug Liman
Writers:  Mark Bowden (Story), Doug Liman, Simon Kinberg
Cast:      Bradley Cooper, Chris Evans and Andrew Garfield, all rumored
Luna is a space heist film set to be directed by Doug Liman. Its an action film centered on a group of renegade employees who venture to the moon to steal an energy source.

Great Expectations (2012)

Director: Mike Newell
Writers:  Charles Dickens (Novel), Dave Nicholls
Cast:      Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Jeremy Irvine
Mike Newell will be adapting Charles Dickens' novel 'Great Expectations' into a film which is set for release next year. This will be the third film adaptation of the novel.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tootsie (1982)

Director: Sydney Pollack
Writers:  Murray Schisgal, Barry Levinson, Elaine May
Cast:      Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Bill Murray
Dustin Hoffman is a struggling actor who has got a bad reputation because of which its getting very difficult to get any roles. He decides to do an audition for a female role concealing his true identity and gets the part in a TV afternoon serial. He develops feelings for his co actor and things go kind of predictably as it usually in these kind of films.

Film did very well in the box office grossing 180 million dollars on a budget of 21 million.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dev D (2009)

Director:   Anurag Kashyap
Writers:    Saratchandra Chatterjee (Novel), Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Abhay Deol (Concept)
Language: Hindi
Dev D is a landmark film in Indian film history with its breathtaking visuals, colors, use of songs and the greyness of its characters. This was my second watch and there were some flaws visible on second watch, but the flaws pales in comparison to the film's uniqueness.

There is a thanks given to Danny Boyle in the opening credits. It is there because Anurag Kashyap was struggling to film the high on drugs scenes because of the low budget of the film and it was Danny Boyle who suggested the use of stills to do it. There are many scenes which reminded me of Trainspotting and there is even a 'head in the closet' one thrown as a homage.

Rating: 4.5/5

Fantastic Mr.Fox (2009)

Director: Wes Anderson
Writers:  Roald Dahl (Novel), Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach
Voices:  George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman
Fantastic Mr.Fox is a stop motion animation film directed by the fantastic Mr. Wes Anderson. The voices for the main characters are given by George Clooney, Meryl Streep and other Anderson film regulars like Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman. George Clooney is excellent as the lead Fantastic Mr. Fox who likes to steal from the rich human neighbors. When they find out his house fox and his family are confined to the underground while Fat, Short and Lean businessmen lay siege to the area. How they escape forms the rest of the story.

The soundtrack is excellent and the wit is very good. It is a little high brow for children and maybe that's why it didn't do that well in box office grossing just 46 million on the 40 million dollar budget. I consider the film more suitable for adults.

Rating: 4.5/5

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Samaria (Samaritan Girl) (2004)

Director:   Kim Ki-duk
Writer:      Kim Ki-duk
Language: Korean
2 school girls turn to prostitution to fund their trip to Europe. Yeo-Jin is the fixer while her best friend Jae-Young sleeps with the clients. During a police raid Jae-Young jumps from the window of a motel and dies. Yeo-Jin consumed by sadness and guilt decides to sleep with all the men Jae-Young had slept with and return the money to them. Her father who is a detective finds about it and starts following her from school. The film is about this chiefly and not about child prostitution in Korea. The events preceding this are shown in an over the top manner with respect to acting.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, July 4, 2011

Vivre Sa Vie (My Life to Live) (1962)

Director:   Jean-Luc Godard
Writers:    Jean-Luc Godard, Marcel Sacotte
Language: French
The film shows a Parisian woman's descent into prostitution in 12 unconnected chapters. Anna Karina, a fixture in Godard's earlier films and his wife at those times, plays Nana who leaves her husband and child to pursue a career as an actress. As she struggles working as a record store staff she begins life as a prostitute for money.

The characters in the film are quirky and there is no melodrama in the film. The novel like format with chapters is a regular feature in Tarantino's films. Tarantino's production company 'A Band Apart' is named after the Godard classic 'Bande a part'. Godard's playfulness with the camera and ideas reminds me of Tarantino and the impact of their films are also similar.

Rating: 4/5

Prometheus (2012)

Director: Ridley Scott
Writer:    Damon Lindelof, Jon Spaihts
Cast:      Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Noomi Rapace
Ridley Scott will be directing a side sequel to 1979 film Alien set in the same world. The cast looks excellent. I haven't seen Alien but heard only great things about it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

L'armée des ombres (Army of Shadows) (1969)

Director:   Jean-Pierre Melville
Writers:    Jean-Pierre Melville, Joseph Kessel (Novel)
Language: French
The film adaptation of Joseph Kessel's novel with the same about his own experiences as a member of French resistance against Nazi rule during world war 2 as well as fictionalized versions of  other resistance members. Film follows a group of resistance fighters as they move between safe houses, work with allied militaries, kill informers and attempt to evade capture and subsequent execution.

The great thing about the film is that it provides a bleak unromantic view of the resistance and often the characters are shown as fearful. The film was received badly because of the resistance during the Algerian war and Charles de Gaulle was rather unappreciated during those times.

Rating: 4/5

Lamb of God

Director: Diablo Cody
Oscar winning screenwriter of the film Juno is set to make her directorial debut with the film Lamb of God. Its a comedy about a young christian woman who loses her faith after a plane crash and decides to become a stripper in Vegas, but winds up rediscovering her love for Jesus.