Somewhere

December 20, 2010

 

**Originally published on Passionforcinema.com**


 

I have got a feeling that Somewhere, the latest offering from the uber talented Sofia Coppola, is going to get misjudged and underrated by many. The movie is yet to get a proper release in the US and other major locations, and whatever initial response it’s  getting from the few festival circles gives me a bad feeling. I could be wrong, but one thing is sure, Somewhere is not for everybody (I take too much pleasure in saying that!). And the few who is going to enjoy it, is going to enjoy it immensely. I was lucky enough to watch a screening of Somewhere at IFFK 2010. I remained doubtful for the first 40 minutes, liked it by the end and by the next day morning I was irreversibly in love with the movie.

 

The movie opens with this shot of a Ferrari speeding through an empty endless track. The car does lap after lap and finally stops in front of us (right about when we starts feeling a little weary about the scene). Johnny Marco (Played by Stephen Dorff) steps out of the car and stands there in the middle of nowhere. Right then the titles reads: ‘Somewhere’. The all-out brilliance of the movie is adequately reflected in this opening sequence. The monotony, the emptiness and everything that is going to be discussed ahead in the movie is essentially incorporated into this one astounding scene.  From there on Coppola takes us to travel closely with the life of this hot shot Hollywood actor Johnny Marco. From the suite of one luxury hotel to another (the movie has been pictured at several landmark Hollywood hotels like The Chateau Marmont, The Four Seasons etc.), we are painstakingly taken through the routines of the life of a superstar. Johnny’s life is brimming with the superabundance of all kind of luxuries, stuff you would never consider to be meaningless or insignificant, probably until you’ve got them in superabundance like our superstar here. We plunge right into the middle of this high living emptiness, and leave comprehending the emptiness for what it is. Coppola surely has got this upper hand when it is about filming the monotony in lives and we have seen that before. Like always, she lets her meticulously prepared visuals do the talking. All the humor, all the sarcasm and commentary is contained in her visuals and there is hardly much dialogues. So as we watch Johnny struggling hard to fit in with the invariability of his world, we’re also subtly made to observe and comment on the contradictions of a privileged celebrity lifestyle. Director takes her time in developing the mood for the film, perhaps time enough to scare off the non believers, but once she sets her pieces together, it’s all poetic.

Johnny, as we’ve already said, is kind of a loner. He doesn’t have too many intimate personal relationships. He drifts around in a party, being full of himself, caring for nobody else. He is separated with his wife and lives alone. Well, there is this one friend (Sammy) who occasionally shows up, there are his agents and other professionals and there are those groupies and hot chicks who comes and goes but never stays (there is also the twin pole dancers). The only exception to all these is Cleo, Johnny’s 11 year old daughter. Cleo is a smart, charming and instantly loveable character who seamlessly craves a spot for herself wherever you put her. She occasionally comes to her father’s place (no one place, per say) and spends a day or two with him. The father-daughter relationship is essentially one of the best things about the movie. It doesn’t get any more real than this. There are no ‘baby I love you so much-daddy I love you so much’ dialogues or moments. The bond is there and every viewer can feel it or even connect with it. Apparently, Sofia Coppola modeled this relationship (and the whole movie, for that matter) mostly around her own relationship with her father. So the authenticity can be tracked to that. The story is essentially about this delicate but important transition taking place in this relationships and how it affects the two characters.

Somewhere doesn’t have many dramatic moments in it. It’s only as dramatic as one normal day in your life. Our hero drives around in his Ferrari, lies in his hotel bedroom and smokes a lot of cigarettes for most part of the movie. There is nothing happening. It is going to be easily misunderstood as a boring and empty work. Well, maybe it does appear empty. But isn’t that the point? The humor like always is top-notch. The music is stirring. And the characters (Only two of them, actually) are all very well developed- they are complete. Coppola allows us to move in with these two characters, silently watch their lives, silently observe the small changes and final at the moment of an emotional breakdown we can’t help but feel for them. Subtle, but genius.

Stephen Dorff has come up with an exceptional performance. He is just perfect playing Johnny Marco and it is such a treat to watch him float around doing nothing. Same goes for Elle Fanning, who also manages to come up with a remarkable performance. She makes Cleo such a good reason for anybody to embark on a path of change.Somewhere is truly an amazing movie. It’s the kind that grows on you. I would like to consider it as a brilliant sequel to Lost in Translation. The craft of Sofia Coppola is absolutely evident in this work and it is amusing as always. But I would refrain from recommending this movie to anyone. Like I said, it may not be for everyone. But hey, who cares?

 

Original article at PassionforCinema.



The Year End Movie Babble – Best Movies of 2009!

December 26, 2009

2009 has been a fabulous year for movies. I personally have had the opportunity to watch an insane number of good movies throughout the year. And then there was last week’s International Film Festival of Kerala. One week of movies and movies only. It just had been a great year. So here is list of movies that really mattered to me this year!

Inglourious Basterds

THE numero one movie! Inglourious Basterds was simply one of the finest, coolest, greatest cinematic experience of my whole life. Yes, that’s right and yes of course I ‘am a huge Tarantino fan. QT gets you really close to his original classic ‘Pulp Fiction’, in terms of sheer excitement and entertainment. Basterds has got every single Tarantino flavor in the righteous proportion, that it can be fairly asserted as the Quentin Tarantino epic! The movie manages to retain the very unique personality of its genre, namely the Tarantino genre, even while it ambitiously experiments with a new kind of richness in the story and narrative etc. which is essential for an epic. Like always, the characters are all etched out with extreme care and love and their interactions with each other had never been so seamlessly comprehensive. The trademark stuffs like the tension build up and the long blasting dialogues (impressively multi lingual, this time) are all chillingly top notch! It’s just fun to watch how the Tarantino universe sets up itself, chapter by chapter, as an alternative to the history book stories. Just fun, unadulterated, one-of-a-kind fun that hardly existed before Tarantino! So in short, Quentin Tarantino reconstructs the war movie genre and so many other related sub genres (WW2, Dirty dozen, female vengeance etc) into a new kind of violent-sarcastic-vengeful- cultish-homage paying- movie loving-fearless-unique-bad ass experience that baffles us all the way with its cleverness. Tarantino is a fucking genius.  And then there is Christopher Waltz, Melanie Laurent and Brad Pitt. Whoa-fucking-whoa! The SS Landa character by Waltz is easily one of the best Tarantino characters ever. So is Brad Pitt’s Aldo Raine.  So is Melanie Laurent’s Shosanna Dreyfus and so is everybody else’s! Damn it. Plus there is the breath taking visuals from Robert Richardson and the killer OST. Arggh..I could never stop writing about this one…

P.S: I had previously written a 3 page (incomplete) review on Inglourious Basterds for the blog, but gave up on it later for different reasons. It was getting too big and it was getting out of my hands. There are a lot more aspects about the movie that I would like to write about, including the flaws in it. But maybe another time!

Antichrist

The best thing that had happened to me at the iffk– ‘Anti Christ’! Went in without knowing what to expect, and came out horrified, puzzled and shaken to my core! I was haunted by the utter extremeness and have been, ever since, wondering about the purpose of a movie like Antichrist. The sheer pain this film endures on the viewers is just incredible. Lars Von Trier gets you to suffer abundantly and communicates with you while you’re in this pain.  The movie crosses all the boundaries and pushes through all the envelops with its visual language and thus attains a kind of unholy purity and originality in its narrative. Set up in an almost invincible atmosphere of horror, Antichrist speaks audaciously about evil and crime and redemption, keeping a strong misogynistic attitude. Most of the visuals are so brilliantly composed that you could think over and over about their meaning (like for example, the final scene where Willem Dafoe is coming down the hill… Whoa!). 90% of the visuals still stay with me afresh! With its clever re-interpretation of the Adam & Eve scenario, the movie leaves more than enough room for uninterrupted train of thoughts. On one side it is heavily pessimistic and dark and on another level it’s extremely contemporary and thought provoking. That is the genius of good art and the purpose of Antichrist, I believe, can’t be any different from that of any other great art work.

Unbelievably intense and brave involvement from the part of the two lead actors- Williem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg is the other thing that makes this movie very important.

Avatar

I don’t need to speak a lot about this one. Much has been written and spoken already. So I do believe Avatar is this one definitive cinematic experience of our decade. Never have been a director seemed so much in control with the realization of his visuals or with what he wanted to say or with an enormous budget like in the case of Avatar. 3D and every other advancement in technology have been brilliantly integrated to provide the ultimate immersive experience to the viewers. The awe-inspiring amount of detailing done at every level is simply…err…awe-inspiring! I would have certainly appreciated a bit more originality with its story line and characters and the dialogues, but if Cameron chooses audacity and accessibility over complexity for his epic blockbuster, I can totally understand it. And right now, I ‘am impatiently waiting to watch it again in 3D in full glory. I believe every movie lover should watch this one again and again just to savor the greatness and reach of the medium called cinema!

Hurt Locker

Hurt Locker is as engaging as any other great war film could be and at the same time it also maintains a totally different and unique style of its own. The greatest goodness about Hurt Locker is its nerve-racking kind of tension and suspense build up that would virtually take us viewers, to the distant war field and its conflicts. Kathryn Bigelow chooses to be less political with her war movie and straight away gets to the very essence of war and what it does with people. ‘War is a Drug’ quotes the movie at the beginning and proceeds on to ingeniously tell you how and why. There are almost no gimmicks whatsoever. Supported by mind blowing visuals and good acting, Bigelow slowly transfers the real feel and texture of war onto us. It also has the advantage of a very good script that knows what it is speaking about.  So Hurt locker is smart, sensible, thrilling and in the end, an extremely satisfying experience altogether!

Moon

One of the best Sci-Fi thrillers of the year, Moon was good fun in a very classic sci-fi manner! 2001 space odyssey stands as the biggest inspiration for Moon, which in itself is a very cool thing. The set up of the movie is both intriguing and thrilling and it easily stands out from the usual space opera stuff!! With an unbelievable low budget (5 million dollars) it’s surprising how flawlessly well constructed the movie is. Sam Rockwell is just phenomenal as Sam bell, the movie’s only human character. His performance certainly is the key factor in the effectiveness of the movie. Moon derives its inspiration from the right kind of classics and gets original where it has to be. Overall Moon was this smart engaging and satisfying experience that really left me wanting for more! Duncan Jones, really looking forward to you!

Watchmen

Okay, I don’t really care what the comic book fans think, but Watchmen was a really, really good movie. I would easily rate it above the much celebrated ‘300’, but that’s mainly because of the brilliance of the source material. For what was regarded as an un-filmable something, Zack Snyder have achieved quite a bit with his ‘Watchmen’. I mean, nobody would have expected it to be better than the comic or anything, right?  Snyder was spot on with the casting. The movie is so full of good performances. Characters are addressed very well. And you know, most of the story arcs are well assembled too! For some the 3 hour length may be a little intimidating, but honestly I didn’t feel a bit bored! The narrative is so rich (again, quality of the source material) that it all seamlessly falls into shape! And then I haven’t read the comic, so that really helped me, I guess!  Anyway, I believe Watchmen is an extremely well made movie and easily deserves to be on the best of 2009 list!

The Others

Other good movies that almost made into the list (but then I was lazy to do the write up) includes Bad Lieutenant, Public Enemies, Whatever works, Star Trek etc etc.

And more importantly Movies I couldn’t watch as of yet, but can’t wait, includes Coen’s ‘A Serious Man’, Reitman’s ‘Up in the Air’, Terry Gilliam’s ‘Imaginarium of Doctor Parnasscus’ and then Crazy Hearts, Precious, Paranormal Activity, Men who stares at the goats etc.

The INDIAN Ones:

Kaminey

I honestly didn’t except such crude kickassness from bollywood. Kaminey took me by surprise and really kicked some serious ass! This is a movie with an uber cool attitude and you’ve got to respect it. More than anything, it is the Smart, witty, weird, twisted and what not sort of characters that makes the movie so special! The brilliance of Kaminey begins and strengthens with the brilliance of these queer set of characters. Well, with the twin protagonists- one with a lisp and one who speaks ‘f’ instead of ‘s’, you simply know the movie couldn’t end up being ordinary! And it doesn’t. The plot offers so much confusion and so much surprises and twists that could keep you engaged for two days! It stays to be inventively funny and smart and keeps that cool attitude, all along.  And to back this all up, we have the awesome, awesome background score (Years’ best in my opinion)! Also, every single actor delivers!  I don’t know how Bhardwaj managed such a brilliant cast. Be it Amole Gupta or Priyanka Chopra or even Tenzing Nima as Tashi, everybody feels so much like the characters they play!  And who thought Shaid Kapur could act so well?

Right from the trailer, Bhardwaj have hinted upon heavy influence from Tarantino and the likes. Inspiration, with regard to Bollywood, usually means plain simple replication of story ideas and even scenes. But not with Bhardwaj and his Kaminey! Like what Tarantino would do, Bhardwaj digs up old Hindi classics and subtly pays homage through his characters and plot scenarios! Also influences of Tarantino, Coens and Guy Ritchie can be felt in the framing of shots and setting up of tense sequences etc. And all of that works out quiet brilliantly too! All in all, Kaminey was the best hindi movie of 2009 for me. This is what you call a real fun filled filmy rollercoaster ride!  And I‘ve enjoyed every twists and turns and falls and rises in this ride! Yay!

Dev D

Anurag Kashyap is on his way to becoming the most acclaimed Indian director, internationally. And within 10 years time, that is very much possible. At present, he certainly is the most innovative young director in Bollywood (And here is me standing with Kashyap, eat that! 😉 )! By doing a movie in the context of the over used ‘Devdas’ novel and by absolutely redefining it into something utterly original, Anurag Kashyap is actually screaming out loud to his fellow film makers about the need for some sort of a change! He thrashes down all the previous melodramatic renderings of Devdas and moves on to prove that he is the real thing! And in this brave quest, his lead actor Abhay Deol becomes his greatest supporter! Abhay delivers the most solid performance of the year as Dev D. And not just Abhay, Mahie Gill and Kalki Koechilin, the two fresh actresses found by Kashyap himself, also excel in their roles. AK also gets as experimental as he could with the narration, the visuals, the dialogues and the use of music (which is particularly brilliant) etc. And as a result Dev D ends up being an extremely interesting piece of cinema. Never before did a story about a perennial loser like Dev D felt so much appealing! Damn, right now I need to watch this movie again!

Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja

Pazhassi raja is a really important movie for the present day Malayalam film industry. It is like Avatar for the Hollywood. Okay, may be not that big, but still really big. What our veteran director Hariharan have achieved through his 2-3 years long hard work is just something phenomenal. Other film makers should really learn from it. On a technical level, Pazhassi Raja stands above almost every other Malayalam movie till date. It is also probably the one movie that has made the maximum out of its large budget. You see so many movies these days, with this tag of a ‘Big Budget’, but in most cases none of them actually makes any sense. Pazhassi raja is different from all that.  Based on the M.T Vasudevannair’s masterful (yes, masterful!) script that strives to stay as close as possible with actual history of Kerala, the movie patriotically reminds us of our forgotten hero – Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja.  M.T interestingly arranges the life and struggle of Pazhassi Raja against the British and Hariharan visualizes it in such the grand scales. The movie also has towering performances from such talented actors like Mammootty, Thilakan, Manoj K Jayan etc. Art direction, editing everything looks exceptional! More than anything Pazhassi Raja is a war movie and the makers have made no compromises whatsoever, to make it more arty or anything. It just has got more action and thrills than what you would expect. And on another side, Pazhassi Raja is not a movie without flaws. It has got several flaws, especially some irritating ones in the department of action choreography. But I ‘am ready to overlook all of them, just for what the movie has dared to achieve. Pazhassi Raja is Malayalam’s very own epic and I felt really proud coming out of the theater! That’s all that matters!

Kerala Café

Inspired by Paris, je t’aime, Director Renjith and his friends have brought together Kerala café as a collection of ten beautiful short films vaguely based on the theme of travel. And except for two or three pretentious ones that failed, almost all of these short films are impressive. They entertain, disturb and shake you on different levels. Island Express by Shankar Ramakrishnan, Bridge by Anwar Rasheed and Puram Kazchakal by Lal jose were the best ones on the list. Such novel efforts are the need of the hour as far as Malayalam cinema is concerned and Kerala Café I believe is a good beginning in taking Malayalam cinema back to world class standards!

The Others

In hindi, other movies that almost made into the list includes Luck By chance..err only that one and then there are movie I couldn’t watch as of yet, which includes Gulal, Wake Up Sid, Rocket Singh and 3 Idiots .

In Malayalam, the one movie that almost made it into the list would be Neelathamara and the ones I haven’t seen include movies like Bhoomi Malayalam and Oru Pennum Randannum etc.

And thus we’re at the bloody end of this unnecessarily long blog post. I would really like to know what you guys thought about the movies of 2009. Also, Wishing you all a good time at the cinemas and a happy new year!


District 9 is Overrated!

September 20, 2009

district9 movie poster

I remember getting uber excited with the first trailer of District 9 a few months ago. It was evidently one of the most captivating trailers of the year. The Documentary (or rather the ‘mokumentary’) approach to science fiction seemed awfully impressive and had a promise of some great inventiveness to it. Seemed like a path breaking approach of movie making at that point and I had been living in great anticipation ever since.

Now weeks after its international release and weeks after listening to all those insanely positive reviews all around, when I finally got a chance to watch the movie, never for once did I expect to get disappointed. My bad, really!

District 9 opens with the ‘mokumentary’ styled narration that convincingly introduces us to the weird scenario where extra terrestrials have become refugees on earth and humans are struggling with mysterious interests to keep them back here. Most of the related bits and parts are explained with such clarity and essence that you are readily drawn in to the conflict presented by the cinema. The mock documentary approach prepares us to the upcoming drama and lays a perfect platform before the filmmaker to tell the story with all the freedom that he needs. The first act of the movie was generally very well executed and for me it was the best part too.

The first 20-30 minutes of the movie gives you such high impressions about itself and almost makes you believe that you’re watching a science fiction of very high standards, like maybe one of those old classics. And then, the lead character Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) comes to the centre of the drama, and soon there is a depressing shift in the tone of the film. The mockumentary style makes way for a live action mode and the story takes the course of the clichéd one man-against the entire world drama. Together with this sprouts a number of silly loop holes. A lot of why’s and how’s are left unanswered for no better purposes whatsoever. The aliens in district 9 are represented like disorganized bunch of animals in a zoo. It’s a bit hard to digest, you know, with a breed of aliens who were good enough to make there way through the space and fly over earth! Then again, never do they make any effective use of their advanced weaponry, which could only be operated by one among them, not even to protect themselves. In the separate district for aliens, we also have Nigerian hoodlums headed by a red eyed ‘Don’, who exploits the aliens in their own ways. They make illegal distribution of cat food and cow meat in exchange of alien weapons and money. And then there is an intelligent alien father and his boy in the group, who forms a friendship with the hero along the way. Both the alien family and the hero have their own interrelated problems, to solve which both of them have to help each other out. What follows is some high voltage Michael Bay styled CGI action drama. Brainy science fiction? Wrong guess! See, at the core it all turns out to be very silly! The part in the beginning where they say that ‘there are a lot of secrets in District 9’ turns out to be a plain lie! The effect of a peculiar style and the serious tone has helped the movie in large ways. It’s both surprising and depressing at the same time to see how a promising theme could be turned into just another summer blockbuster flick. I strongly believe that this movie had the potential to reach into such great heights of entertainment. But it doesn’t, it chooses to be just another action flick. Fine.

Now as ‘just another’ action flick, it’s not so bad. The action is pretty neat. The alien weapons are mostly cool. And did I say about the spaceship? Oh the spaceship must be second best part of the movie 🙂 Fell in love with it right after the trailer. The Johannesburg setting is also a welcome change as opposed to the generally American back dropped alien stories. Like I have already said the overall tone, even though a bit pretentious, probably helped the movie to gain a distinct appeal before the masses. The movie also subtly tries to touch on the aspects of racial discriminations happened/happening in South Africa and other African countries. The Nigerian Hoodlums makes sense that way. But it still was all a little farfetched for me. The cinematography was generally very good and it synchronized perfectly with the documentary-live action tone shifts of the film. CGI was top notch of course.  And the blending of the documentary style with mainstream methods was a good ‘idea’ too. Better movies should come to explore this technique. Now, when the movie couldn’t successfully deliver some pure sci-fi fun like it should have been in the first place, nothing else really matters. I was grossly disappointed in that regard. District 9 ends with a clear notion to a sequel and seriously I ‘am not too excited about that Idea. I suppose one cannot judge Neill Blomkamp with this one movie, but yeah the man has got some good miles to travel. The movie, however is doing good business all around the world and the critic guys are all happy!  So yeah, whatever!


Oscars 09

February 18, 2009

oscar, academy award

Oscar 09 is not so much of an interesting subject, I know. But last time I wrote a similar post on the Oscars and ended up getting some major traffic on the blog. So that’s not a bad thing and here we go again.

It’s a mess when you think of this year’s Oscar nominations. Forming an opinion is too confusing. But predictions would be easier, I suppose. The suspense of the academy awards have become so much of a cliché that I think they must start doing something just to break this predictability. They must give the awards randomly to completely unexpected contestants. Of course there would be a lot of uproars and criticisms but they will be there anyway and will only do good to the business. Okay, I was kidding and the academy shouldn’t really get confused over that. Let’s go deep into the matter!

slumdog millioanire

Now, I can bet my very own ass over the ‘Slumdog millionaire’ this time. Slumdog is on this dream run which is totally getting on my nerves now and which would most probably continue at the Oscars too. Wait, let me explain. I did like the slumdog first time I saw it, for the sheer quality of film making drawn in and didn’t care to think further into the subject as it appeared nothing more than a complete entertainer to me. Don’t you all remember that dance number at the end of the movie? And I thought all such stuffs are included in movies as a signal for the award guys to stay away. I was apparently wrong and I don’t like it that way. I mean you knew they were never going to consider the Dark Knight for the awards and why couldn’t they be a little more clearer with all their procedures and rules? But anyway, Slumdog is in and the Dark Knight is not. So let’s discuss about slumdog. Never has a movie been made before, which had the slums of Mumbai portrayed in such details and beauty. Mumbai is the capital to bollywood, where countless movies are made every year and never have you been able to see such close and heartwarming image of the slums as you see it in the slumdog. The first time I saw the movie all the comparisons were up between the slumdog and the richy rich bollywood movies. At least I believe they are on the same genre of mass entertainers. Slumdog did well in such a comparison. But when you move further, when you see all this ‘sweepings’ that the movie is doing at every international film awards, things gets a bit difficult. I saw Slumdog two more times since then. Yes you really can’t completely disagree with those people who claim slumdog to be another example of poverty porn and yes the realism of the story seems to be heavily influenced by how the westerns would like to see it and yes to most of such appraisals. But above everything, does the plot involving the story of a slum guy winning this huge prize money on a TV show and the senseless romantic plot that supposedly leads to all these, hold such credibility to win all these awards all around the world? Purely it’s a NO from me. The story is neither convincing nor moving beyond let us say, a general level. But I do repeat that it’s well made. Be it the perfectly immersed cinematography or the gripping editing, everything had the kind of feel goodness about it. But most importantly, the music department of the film, which played a major role in me liking the film the first time and something which helped me get through the whole deal the second and third time. And this brings us to the mastero A .R Rehman. The three nominations in the name of A. R will be the most important part of the Oscars this time for any Indian. Music of slumdog was nothing short of being sensational and it will finally bring some due international acclaim to the great Indian music director. But again, there is no great tension over that, as I think Rehman would surely win the award(s).

Then there was The Curious case of Benjamin Button, which became a disappointment for me in many ways. The movie was not bad, but it was disappointing anyway. When one of your favorite director and actor teams up to make a movie on a curious enough subject, you are certain to form some expectation levels of your own. In my case this exactly became the trouble. Well it’s difficult to see some one of the caliber of David Fincher ending up with such a conventionally styled movie. You expect these men to break the pattern and they do just the opposite. Benjamin button has got almost every important ingredient in it- a great cast, curious plot premises, amazing visual effects, top notch technical quality etc etc. But unfortunately all these things wouldn’t add up to an interesting cinema. I don’t know exactly why, but the movie is just not very engaging in most of its moments. The performances, especially that of Pitt’s, was just awesome. The period detailing by Fincher was awesome too, but as I already said, it is still very difficult to find such charm in the end product. For a movie which came with the promise of being ‘curious’, Benjamin button’s story ended up being too ordinary. But no much surprise on the huge list of nominations that this movie have managed in the academy. And it would possibly win many awards too, most of them in the technical side. It’s exactly the kind of movie that these academy people love to encourage.

Moving on, Frost/Nixon was quiet a good movie from Ron Howard. The movie was very successful in inflecting the necessary mood. The line between the documentary and drama is properly maintained by the script. The interviews which form the essential point of the plot is so very well presented that it gets both exciting and intriguing. The performance of Frank Langella as Richard Nixon was exceptional. The acting gets so convincing, especially towards the end of the movie that it really becomes the highlight of the whole film. However, I ‘am not quite sure about many awards for this movie. Not really sure.

Now, the academy’s love for gay movies are very well known and this time too they have made no difference with Milk. Milk pulls off because of its extreme faithfulness to the portrayal of the life of the San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official. All the spirit that the movie evokes is truly and completely what the true life story of Harvey milk holds in it. Backed by the amazing performance by almost all of them in the cast, especially the one by Sean Penn, this movie has surely got good chances at the Oscars. But, except for the extremely brilliant performance of Sean Penn, I don’t really see any reason why I should remember this movie for a long time. But anyway, I would love to see Sean win the best actor award but they simply has got too much competition in that category.

Reader, Kate Winslet

Reader is possibly the most ditched movie among this year’s Oscar nominations, both by the regular movie lovers and by the top critics. I don’t understand why that is so, but I surely loved the movie. Now the very low expectation levels in me may have helped, but that’s not important. The peculiar character of Hanna Schmitz played superbly by Kate Winslet remains to be the most important, interesting aspect about this cinema. The filmmaker’s approach to the portrayal of Hanna Schmitz is also very interestingly peculiar. Maybe this same ‘unusualness’ has resulted in many misunderstandings about the message of the movie and ultimately to all those negative opinions. Schmitz’s character has got this undeniable evil shade to herself throughout the movie. But we are restrained from making any sorts of judgments. The filmmaker quiet successfully pushes the entire question of right and wrong with tremendous amount of perplexity, on to the viewers. The decisions that most character’s makes in the film are so realistically strange and we are constantly made aware of how fragile we are all with our own secrets and choices. The emotional presentation of the tale is also quiet beautifully handled so that the movie is completely engaging when it should be. The intense performance of Kate Winslet remains as the main strength to the whole movie. Kate would win the award, I think. But besides that I don’t see too many chances for this film.Nevertheless, I was deeply moved by this one.

Mickey Rourkey’s performance as the struggling wrestler in the movie  The  Wrestler is truly a sensational comeback performance, as they call it. And the movie itself is no less beautiful. Aronofsky’s craft is well evident in this simple but intense tale of rare characters. The documentary feel in the story of a wrestler guy is quiet strange but that’s exactly why this movie is so involving. Under any other style, the whole plot premises would have appeared silly to most of us. Aronofsky’s is too brilliant a filmmaker to go completely wrong! It’s mostly like how you shoot it on your handicam and it feels so close to us that way. Especially the final moments of the movie involves such catharsis for the viewers. It is a shame that the academy hasn’t given this movie a nomination into the best movie category. I really feel that this film was one among the best last year.

The joker,The Dark Knight

Wall-E would most probably win the best animated movie Oscar and I also see good chance at the best original screenplay category too. But they wouldn’t give that to Wall-E anyway. I’am not sure about the screenplay department this time, but Slumdog shouldn’t really win the adapated screenplay category. But again, I think they will give it to Slumdog only. Whatever. Heath Ledger should surely win the best actor in a supporting role category. If he doesn’t, that will lead to huge public depression, that wouldn’t  really do much good to the business! But yeah, Heath ledger was really phenomenal and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be honored by the award.

I ‘am not going further into making more predictions. A post of this size was not really in my intentions. But anyway, I ‘am stopping now. Huh wait, I have got another idea too. Here is how I voted at the joblo’s Oscar prediction contest. In case you are interested. In some categories like the foreign film and documentary film etc the vote has been made with the help of throwing a dice!! Wish me good luck in winning the i-pod and have good fun for yourself too!


A-Z Movie Meme

December 24, 2008

movie-poster-collection

Ok. This is a fun ‘Meme’ which I stole from ruhi. The idea is to list out all your favorite movies in the alphabetic order. Quiet simple, but fun. Fun because there is no complication of rating one movie over another and such stuff. So here we go…

A is for Annie HallWoody Allen
The woody Allen favorite. Sincerely funny and smart! I think this movie is the best  prototype to the entire work of Allen. Love this guy!

B is for Bicycle theivesVittorio De Sica
Pure Classic and Beyond any words! ‘The more you watch it the more you love it’ kinda stuff!
B is also for The Big Lebowski
–Coen Bros.
True inspirational stuff! I ‘am aware of the irony here but the dude is simply too cool!

C is for The Children of Heaven– Majid Majid
The language of the film is surprisingly simple and touching. A movie that can be watched again and again.
(or The City of Gods)

D for Dr. Strangelove– Stanley Kubrick
Arguably one of the Kubrick’s best work (Space Odyssey is not being avioded. It is  considered as something much much above any catogarization!). Quoting one review in imdb- “the only movie that will make you laugh at the end of the world!!”
D is also for Desharadham – Sibi Malayil (Malayalam).
Beautiful movie and one of the finest performances by one of the finest actors in the country- Mohanlal.

E is for The Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind– Michel Gondry
An extremely well constructed romantic sci-fi (or whatever you call it)!
(Or The Edge of Heaven)

F is for Fight club– David Fincher
Get ready to resurrect yourself with the fight club! This movie was almost an addiction for me at a stage. Tyler Durden is truly one of the best movie characters ever.
(or  Fargo or Following)

G is for Goodfellas– Martin Scorsese
Arguably Scorsese’s best work. Intense.  Joe pesci is unforgatable. Truly a priceless piece of art.
(Or The Good the Bad the Ugly)

H is for Heat– Michael mann
Its Pacino v/s De Niro Like never before. And also Mann’s craft in conceving crime saga is most evident here.

I is for Iruvar (Tamil) – Mani Ratanam
Mani ratanam’s best. Mohanlal’s best. Exceptional cinema.
(or In the mood for love)

J is for Jackie Brown– Quentin Tarantino
De nero with  QT. What else do you need? Excellent OST too!

K is for Kill Bill Vol 1&2– Quentin Tarantino
Pure Tarantino magic again. Extremely well etched out cinematography, fighting sequences, Bgm etc.  And the intensity of Uma Thurman! Well you seriously can’t ask for more.

L is for Laberinto del fauno, El (a.k.a Pan’s Labyrinth) – Guillermo del Toro
A movie which restructured the genre of fantasy movies, well at least for me. A haunting Experience. Del Toro is simply too innovative.
(or Life is beautiful or L.A Confidential)

M is for Memento – Christopher Nolan.
One of the most intelligently constructed movie ever. An unbelievable work by Nolan. Also one of the most inspiring work of art for me. I mean how could people create movies like this?
(or Moonam pakam (Malayalam)- Padmarajan)

N is for No Country for Old Men– Coen Bros.
Simple, powerful and breathtaking. Coens at the top of their craft.

O is for Oldboy– Chan-wook Park
From the beginning till the end a breathtaking thriller. And these Korean actors,  they are simply awesome.
(or O brother where art thou– Coen Bros.)

P is for Pulp Fiction– Quentin Tarantino
A movie which essentially changed my outlook on movies. QT at his best. Travolta, Bruce Willis, Samuel Jackson all at their best. One hell of an experience.

Q is for ‘Ask them to make more ‘Q’ movies’!

R is for Requiem for A Dream– Darren Aronofsky
An intense take on drugs, loneliness, love and human resistance and much more. Aronofsky  is a genius.
(or Ragging bull or Reservior Dogs)

S is for Saving Private Ryan– Steven Spielberg
Exceptional again .Spielberg is too good when he makes movies like this.  The cast is also great. I love Tom Hanks.
(or Schindler’s List or Sandesham (Malayalam) )

T is for Twelve Monkeys – Terry Gilliams
One of the best time travel movie I have seen. Beautifully and intelligently constructed. A thrilling experience.
(or Taxi Driver)

U is for Untouchables– Brian De Palma
A perfect classic style crime saga.

V is for Vertigo– Alfred Hitchcock
A murder mystery that is so much more than what it seems to be. The tremendous depth in the characters of the movie is just awe-inspiring. Greating acting too.
(or Vanaprastham(malayalm)- Shaji  N Karun)

W is for Wall-E– Andrew Stanton
Pixar movies seems to be getting better with each new one. Really lovable characters and enjoyable plot are mostly their highlights. Wall-E is no different.

X is for X-men- The last stand– Bret Ratner
The best ‘X’ movie I guess. 🙂

Y is for Yojimbo – Akira Kurasowa
A great example to the great story telling talents of Kurasowa. Beyond any distinction of generations, languages and cultures. Like almost all of his movies. Maybe the ‘coolest’ movie from Kurasowa. Loved it. Totally.

Z is for Zodaic– David Fincher
I think it is the fascination of an ongoing case being made into film that differentiate Zodiac from other movies. The true essence of the original happenings can be felt in the cinema and hats off to Fincher for that. Needless to say I love this man and I love his movies very much.

Uhh….The Longest post ever! I should have been really mad to write this all up! Shit!

P.S: One important point to be noted here is that the priority was given in finding and assigning at least one movie for each letter. And hence this may not be quiet the  list of my favorite movies. There is a slight difference between the two.

I would love to see  more people doing the meme, by the way!


O brothers…

November 27, 2008

Coen brothers

After watching two of their movies back to back now, I ‘am left speechless over here. That feeling you rarely enjoy from the rarest of those movies, yeah I ‘am having some of them now. Yes sir, I ‘am speaking of the great Coen brothers. The two headed director who has (have) blessed our times with their supreme artistry in filmmaking. The two films were, ‘O brother where art thou?’ and ‘Miller’s crossing’. It was an experience which has got me thirsting for more and more.

There is a hell lot of amusing patterns and symbols followed by the Coen’s in each of their works. Starting from the easily recognisable alternation between black comedies and crime noirs to the very detailed aspects of colours and tones, there is a lot of them. For instances, in the movie ‘O brother where art thou?’ you wouldn’t see a single green leaf! Leafs are kind of yellowish instead. The entire earth has got this yellowish green template throughout the movie. This yellow is perhaps the colour of the movie. Think of ‘Fargo’ and the colour is white. There is a tone to each movie, of which the colour forms an integral part. The wide range of tones, plots and characters which they introduce through their movies are just awe-inspiring.  Now, like ‘Miller’s crossing’ most of their movies are set in the past, over a certain period of time. Homage, references etc. are dispersed all over. ‘Miller’s crossing’ is a huge homage in itself to the crime noirs of 70’s & 80’s. Presence of a ‘cool-under-fire’ type of character (mostly in the lead) is one another thing. Like, Tom Regan’s in miller’s crossing, The Dude himself in ‘The Big Lebowski’, Marge in ‘Fargo’ and Anton Chigurh in ‘No Country…’ Simply those characters are so much fun. There are a lot more of such patterns, like the spinning materials (the ball in ‘Big Lebowski’ and the Hat in ‘Miller’s crossing’) seen in their different movies or the frequently used fast talking characters (mostly Steve Buscemi). (read more here)

Above all these, it is the sheer intelligence exhibited in the plot development and presentation, which distinguishes the Coen’s Bros as film makers. The kind of talent involved in drawing two extremely different characters of Anton Chigurh and The Dude, with equal clarity, is indeed one of the rarest qualities. The Coen movies are the most wonderful show-case to characterization of greatest intensities. It’s extremely difficult to forget a character from a Coen movie, because they appear before us as almost complete human beings with a certain amount of eccentricity. I hear people complaining a lot about the vagueness in the plot of ‘No country for old men’, but before me it is the one of the greatest character studies of all time, where the film makers goes to such extent of realism in the plot for its ultimate aim of faithful character elucidation. ‘O brother…’ is also basically a very beautiful character study (a lot of characters), where the only difference is that the characters are a bit more fictional (the right word is poetic). The comedy in Coen movies is of the highest quality, which is a right mix of the dialogue driven type and the situational type. ‘Big Lebowski’ is one movie that had made me laugh the most. A guy who has seen this movie first, wouldn’t recognise ‘No country…’ as a work from the same directors. That is something indeed, right? The intense detailing in the plot is another important aspect. Like in the case of Miller’s crossing. The plot is very complex and thick but quiet ingeniously offered. It would require you a couple of watching to recognise the cleverness in the plot.

The technical side of Coen brother’s movie making is also as rich as the creative side. The photography, editing etc. are almost flawless. The Visual language is stunning. Music, BGM etc are also of the topmost quality and is of perfect coherence. I read that the sound track of ‘o brother…’ was a bigger hit than the movie itself! No wonder.

Now, I haven’t completed their filmography yet. Highly acclaimed movies like ‘The man who wasn’t there’ and ‘Blood simple’ remains in the yet to watch category. But am already on it, anyway.
Oh and yeah, without people like Coen Brothers and their works, how dreadful our lives would have been…!