Saturday, December 31, 2011

Secrets & Lies (1996)

Director: Mike Leigh
Writer:    Mike Leigh
Cast:      Timothy Spall, Brenda Blethyn, Phyllis Logan
A successful black woman traces her birth mother to a lower-class white woman, who at first denies it; emotions run high as everyone's secrets are exposed.

Its another masterpiece from Mike Leigh. Much of the dialog is improvised by the actors who pull off tremendous performances. Even the minor characters are excellent.

Rating: 4.5/5

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

X-Men: First Class (2011)

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers:  AShley Miller, Zack Stentz
Cast:      Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon
In 1962, the United States government enlists the help of Mutants with superhuman abilities to stop a malicious dictator who is determined to start world war 3.

Its another origins story in the line of 'Batman Begins' and 'The Rise of the Planet of Apes'. Its not as good as those films and the saving grace is the performances from the actors. The plot is silly and the effects didn't feel that special.

Rating: 2.5/5

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Director: Rupert Wyatt
Writers:  Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Pierre Boulle (Book)
Cast:      James Franco, Andy Serkis, Frieda Pinto
During experiments to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease, a genetically enhanced chimpanzee uses its greater intelligence to lead other apes to freedom.

The apes and their story are handled with good emotions. The CGI and performance of Andy Serkis is great as Ceaser. The human characters lack depth and the initial experiment scenes are laughable. The last 30 minutes of the film is excellent. Overall its good but not nearly as good as its sequel 'Contagion', if you know what I mean:-)

Rating: 3/5

Monday, December 26, 2011

Z (1969)

Director:   Costa-Gavras
Writers:    Jorge Semprun, Costa-Gavras
Language: French
In Greece, following the murder of a prominent leftist leader, an investigator tries to uncover the truth while the government officials attempt to cover up their roles.

The film hasn't aged well. It lacks subtlety in terms of the agenda its projecting.

Rating: 2/5

Drive (2011)

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writers:  Hossein Amini, James Sallis (Book)
Cast:      Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston
A Hollywood stunt performer moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.

The film has a very simple story but it stands out by the way of its characters and their moods. Performances are great and the soundtrack is magnificent.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Missing (1982)

Director: Costa-Gavras
Writers:  Costa-Gavras, Thomas Hauser (Book), Donald Stewart, John Nichols
Cast:      Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek, Melanie Mayron
When an idealistic writer disappears during the Right Wing military coup in 1973 Chile, his wife and American businessman father try to find him.

Film is supposedly based on a true story and doesn't degenerates into usual cliches. Performances are excellent.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Fortune Cookie (1966)

Director: Billy Wilder
Writer:    Billy Wilder
Cast:      Jack Lemmon, Walter Mathau, Judi West
A crooked lawyer persuades his brother-in-law to feign a serious injury to extract money from the insurance company.

This was the first on-screen collaboration between Lemmon and Mathau. Its a very good comedy film without a hollywood ending. The dialogues are witty and delivered in an old school way.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kafka (1991)

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer:    Lem Dobbs
Cast:      Jeremy Irons, Theresa Russell, Joel Gray
Ostensibly a biopic, based on the life of writer Franz Kafka, the mystery thriller film 'Kafka' blurs the line between fact and Kafka's fiction, creating a Kafkaesque atmosphere.

I haven't read any of the works from Kafka but still found the film engrossing which is testament to the skills of Soderbergh. With Soderbergh you will always get a film with great technical brilliance and Kafka is no different. The film was the second one from Soderbergh after the excellent Sex, Lies and Videotape and it was a financial failure but has got a cult following over the years.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Frank or Francis (2013)

Director: Charlie Kaufman
Writer:    Charlie Kaufman
Cast:      Nicolas Cage, Steve Carell, Jack Black
Charlie Kaufman's next film 'Frank or Francis' will be a musical about online film criticism. The musical elements of the film film apparently appear when the characters sing what they are writing online.

The Limey (1999)

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer:    Lem Dobbs
Cast:      Terence Stamp, Peter Fonda, Luis Guzman, Barry Newman
An extremely volatile and dangerous Englishman goes to Los Angeles to find the man he considers responsible for  his daughter's death.

Limey is a US slang word for Britons. The film is shot extremely stylishly with a the editing to go with it. The performances are excellent and the way the story unfolds is very fresh. It didn't do well in the box office.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) (2006)

Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Writer:    Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Cast:      Ulrich Muhe, Sebastian Koch, Martina Gedeck
In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police (Stasi), conducting a surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.

The film won the academy award in the foreign language film category and deservedly so. The best part of the film is its subtlety. There is no showy dramatic scenes and no melodramatic finale.

Ulrich Muhe died shortly after the Oscars due to stomach cancer. He was a great actor who had collaborated with Michael Haneke in Benny's Video and Funny Games.

Rating: 5/5

Dead Ringers (1988)

Director: David Cronenberg
Writers:  Bari Wood, Jack Geasland, David Cronenberg, Norman Snider
Cast:      Jeremy Irons, Genevieve Bujold, Heidi von Palleske
Identical twin gynecologists take full advantage of the fact that nobody can tell them apart, until their relationship begins to complicate over a woman.

The performance from Jeremy Irons is stunning and the film grows on you as it progresses. In the end I think this is the best film I have seen from David Cronenberg. Jeremy Iron in his role reminded me of Christian Bale in American Psycho.

Rating: 4.5/5

Friday, December 16, 2011

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Director: Billy Wilder
Writers:  Agatha Christie, Billy Wilder, Larry Marcus, Harry Kurnitz
Cast:      Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich
This is an adaptation of Agatha Christie's tale of a man on trial for murder: a trial featuring surprise after surprise.

Charles Laughton's performance as the barrister is wonderful. Towards the end there are too many twists with the usual hollywoodish ending where crime never pays. Still its certainly worth a watch.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Apartment (1960)

Director: Billy Wilder
Writers:  Billy Wilder, I.A.L.Diamond
Cast:      Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray
A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.

Stunning performances by the all three leads and especially Jack Lemmon. Its one of the best romantic comedy of all time and much of the humor is dark. It has a hollywoodish ending but I was rooting for it to happen. Kevin Spacey dedicated his best actor academy award for 'American Beauty' to Jack Lemmon.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ace in the Hole (1951)

Director: Billy Wilder
Writers:  Billy Wilder, Lesser Samuels, Walter Newman
Cast:      Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur
Kirk Douglas stars as a frustrated bug city journalist now stuck working for an Albuqueurque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.

The films that deal with media has been some of my favorite films. These include 'The Insider', 'Network', 'All the President's men'. Ace in the hole is a masterpiece that gets better with the age as the reality catches up with its prophecy. Its all the more relevant now in these times of NOTW phone hacking scandal and all.

The film was both a critical and commercial failure but its no surprise as it was far ahead of its time.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

Director: Adam McKay
Writers:  Will Ferrell, Adam McKay
Cast:      Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Steve Carell
Ron Burgundy is San Diego's top rated newsman in the male dominated broadcasting of the 1970's, but that's all about to change when a new female employee with ambition to burn arrives in his office.

Its a watchable film with some laughs in it, but overall thought it was very overrated.

Rating: 2.5/5

Monday, December 12, 2011

Paul (2011)

Director: Greg Mottola
Writers:  Simon Pegg, Nick Frost
Cast:      Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen (Voice of Paul), Jason Bateman
Pegg and Frost stars as two English comic book geeks travelling across the US who encounter an alien outside Area 51. The alien named Paul need to escape from Earth and they try to help him do that.

The film is like a well mannered spoof on Spielberg's films of 80s. I haven't seen ET and close encounters but still Paul is a very enjoyable watch even though it does not each the level of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Good to see Jason Bateman getting good roles after 'Arrested Development' and there is a cameo by Steven Spielberg's voice as himself.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Coriolanus (2011)

Director: Ralph Fiennes
Writers:  John Logan, William Shakespeare
Cast:      Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Brian Cox
Coriolanus is actor Ralph Fiennes' directorial debut and is set for release on January in US. Its a film adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy of the same name in which a banished hero of Rome allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Red State (2011)

Director: Kevin Smith
Writer:    Kevin Smith
Cast:      Michael Parks, Melissa Leo, John Goodman
Set in middle America, a group of teenagers receive an invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.

Film is a fictional account loosely based on the fundamentalist group Westboro Baptist church who are a bunch of loons. To take a closer look at their lunacy, you can watch Louis Theroux's 'Most hated family in America'.

The story of red state is very thin. There are some good performances from Michael Parks and John Goodman and the film is well shot. There is a voice cameo from Kevin Smith which is the last spoken dialog of the film.

Rating: 2.5/5

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Observe and Report (2009)

Director: Jody Hill
Writer:    Jody Hill
Cast:      Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Ray Liotta
Bi-polar mall security guard Ronnie Barnhadt is called into action to stop a flasher from turning shopper's paradise into his personal peep show. But when Barnhardt can't bring the culprit to justice, a surly plioce detective is recruited to close the case.

Its a watchable film. Nothing more.

Rating: 2/5

The Guard (2011)

Director: John Michael McDonagh
Writer:    John Michael McDonagh
Cast:      Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong
An unorthodox Irish Policeman (Gleeson) with a confrontational personality is teamed up with an uptight FBI agent (Cheadle) to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring.

Its a buddy cop film in the vein of 'Hot Fuzz' with its intentionally cliched scenes. It has an interesting set of villains with their philosophical musings. Its a good little film without achieving the level of "Hot Fuzz'.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bakjwi (Thirst) (2009)

Director:    Park Chan-wook
Writers:     Park Chan-wook, Emile Zola. Seo-Gyeong Jeong
Language: Korean
A priest is stricken with vampirism and is forced to abandon his ascetic ways after a failed medical experiment. He falls in love with his friend's wife.

The film can comfortably belong to many genres- Vampires, Noir, Comedy. I didn't like the first half of the film but the second half makes up for it. The cinematography is excellent as always in a  Park Chan-wook film.

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Wire Season 5 (TV Series 2008)

Creator: David Simon
The fifth and final season of 'The Wire' continues to examine the Baltimore Police Department, the Stanfield organization and city hall while introducing a fictionalized version of the Baltimore Sun newsroom.

Very good conclusion to the series with this cynical best season.

My Rating: 5/5

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Amadeus (1984)

Director: Milos Forman
Writer:    Peter Shaffer
Cast:      F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge
Amadeus tells the incredible story of final years of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told in flashback mode by Antonio Salieri- now confined to an insane asylum. Its a highly fictionalized account.

The film won academy awards for best film, director and actor (Abraham). The performances of the two lead were incredible.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Wire Season 4 (TV Series 2006)

Creator: David Simon
In the fourth season of 'The Wire', it introduces Baltimore's school system and several middle school students while continuing to examine the remnants of the Barksdale organization, the ascendant Stanfield organization , the Baltimore Police Department and politicians.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Snowman (201?)

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer:    Adapted from novel by Jo Nesbo
Martin Scorsese is set to return to the crime genre with 'The Snowman', an adaptation of the seventh book in Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo's series of novels about hardboiled Oslo detective Harry Hole.

Mediterraneo (1991)

Director:   Gabriele Salvatores
Writer:      Enzo Monteleone
Language: Italian
The film is set during second world war, and regards a group of Italian soldiers who become stranded in  on a Greek island and are left behind by the war.

The film  won the academy award in the Foreign language category but I can't see any reason why. Its a very ordinary film.

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Magnolia (1999)

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer:    Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast:      Tom Cruise, Jason Robards, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Philip Baker Hall, Jeremy Blackman, Melora Walters, John C.Reilly, William H.Macy
Its a day in the life of 9 interrelated characters who have some connection between them in terms of their plight.

I thought the film was good but not  that great the first time round. On the second watch I feel its a great film and among the best from Paul Thomas Anderson along with Boogie Nights and There will be blood. Tom Cruise's role in this is the best of his career in my opinion along with the role he did in 'Collateral'.

Rating: 4.5/5

Tabloid (2010)

Director: Errol Morris
Stars:      Joyce McKinney, Kent Gavin, Dr.Hong
Tabloid is a documentary on a former Miss Wyoming who is charged with abducting and imprisoning a young Mormon missionary. The story becomes a wildfire among British tabloid press.

Documentary us well made but the subject matter is not that interesting to me. I guess those lived during the times when the events happened would like it more.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Life of David Gale (2003)

Director: Alan Parker
Writer:    Charles Randolph
Cast:      Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, Laura Linney
David Gale is a philosophy professor, a man against capital punishment,  and is accused of murdering a fellow activist and is sent to death row. Three days before the execution he grants interview to a journalist to prove his innocence after his death.

The twist can be seen from the get go and the film is rife with cringe worthy scenes and shitty editing. Bit sad to see Kevin Spacey waste his talent on so many shit films this side of the century.

Rating: 2/5

Meantime (1984)

Director: Mike Leigh
Writer:    Mike Leigh
Cast:      Tim Roth, Gary Oldman, Phil Daniels
Meantime is a TV film made by Mike Leigh looking at how dole affects the under class brits. Its set during the recession under Margaret Thatcher's premiership.

Its more of a black comedy and not like a Ken Loach feature as the plot would suggest. Its very well acted and is a nice little film.

Rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Wire Season 3 (TV Series-2004)

Creator: David Simon
Cast:     Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn, Idris Elba
Season three of 'The Wire' introduces Baltimore's local politicians and the upstart drug dealing Stanfield organization while continuing to examine the Barksdale organization and the Baltimore police department. The highlight of the season is a renegade major's 'Hamsterdam' experiment which makes a compelling case for Legalization of drugs.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Wire Season 2 (TV Series-2003)

Creator: David Simon
Cast:     Dominic West, Chris Bauer, Paul Ben-Victor, Pablo Schreiber
For the season two, the case begins when McNulty, who has been banished into the harbor patrol after his exploits in season one, finds the body of a woman floating in the water. Valchek has a gripe to grind with his rival, Frank Sobotka in the local stevedores union. It leads to the same team as in the first season investigating the happenings in the port which leads them to smuggling of goods, drugs and women.

The second season is very slow in its build up compared to the first season. Also the time given for the main villains is less. Overall its not good as first season but still is great to watch.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Wire Season 1 (TV Series 2002)

Creator: David Simon
Cast:     Dominic West, John Doman, Deirdre Lovejoy, Idris Elba
I finally got round to watching the much hyped about TV series 'The Wire' and have to say that its all justified after finishing season one. Its the best thing I have seen on TV. If I have to compare, its like the film 'Heat' on TV, showing both the cops and the felons. There is so much time given to all the characters, even the minor ones. Am off to watching season two.

Rating: 5/5

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Knight of Cups (2014)

Director: Terrence Malick
Writer:    Terrence Malick
Cast:      Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Isabel Lucas
Knight of Cups is set for release on 2014 as Terrence Malick become more prolific these days and hopefully without compromising on quality.

Lawless (2013)

Director: Terrence Malick
Writer:    Terrence Malick
Cast:      Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Rooney Mara
Lawless is Terrence Malick's new project set for release on 2013.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wuthering Heights (2011)

Director: Andrea Arnold
Writers:  Andrea Arnold, Emily Bronte (Novel)\
Cast:      Kaya Scodelario, James Howson, Oliver Milburn
A poor English boy named Heathcliff is taken in by the wealthy Earnashaw family where he develops an intense relationship with his younger foster sister, Cathy. Film is based on the classic novel by Emily Bronte. Previously it has been adapted with the same title in a film in 1992 starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliettte Binoche. This is Andrea Arnold's follow up to critically acclaimed 'Fish Tank'.

Fish Tank (2009)

Director: Andrea Arnold
Writer:    Andrea Arnold
Cast:      Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender
Mia, a foul-mouthed, stroppy 15 year old, lives on Essex estate with her tarty mother, Joanne, and little sister Tyler. She has been excluded from school and is awaiting admission to a referrals unit and spends her days aimlessly. She begins an uneasy friendship with Joanne's handsome boyfriend, Connor, who encourages her one interest, dancing. What could go wrong?

Its extremely well acted by the two leads, Katie Jarvis as Mia and Michael Fassbender as Connor. This is a film that can be put alongside the other British kitchen sink classics like, 'This is England'. Film gets better as it goes on and it does not resort to tiresome cliches. The cinematography is excellent.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

Director: Woody Allen
Writer:    Woody Allen
Cast:      Martin Landau, Woody Allen, Alan Alda
The film has two story lines with the first one about an opthamologist who is threatened by his mistress to reveal their affair to his wife and the second one in which Woody Allen plays a married documentary film maker who is infatuated by another woman. The first story is of tragic nature and the second one is black humor. As is usual with Woody Allen films, there is plenty of philosophy involved and its a very mature film and the only draw back of the film is a very exaggerated Woody Allenish character of himself in some scenes.

Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Annie Hall (1977)

Director: Woody Allen
Writers:  Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman
Cast:      Woody Allen, Diane Keaton
Woody Allen plays a neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditsy Annie Hall.

Its a great romantic comedy just like Manhattan and the cameo from Christopher Walken is superb.

Rating: 5/5

Manhattan (1979)

Director: Woody Allen
Writers:  Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman
Cast:      Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway
Woody Allen plays a divorced New Yorker who is currently dating a high schooler brings himself to look for love in the mistress of his best friend instead.

'Annie Hall' was the only Woody Allen film I have seen before this and so far both his films have been great with great wit and intelligence. Need to get into his other films soon.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Whitey Bulger Biopic (201?)

Director: Ben Affleck (Rumored)
Cast:      Matt Damon
Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gobe, The Town) is rumored to direct a biopic based on the life of infamous Boston mobster Whitey Bulger. Bulger who doubled as an FBI informant was the inspiration for Jack Nicholson's character in 'The Departed'. Damon is set to play the Bulger role.

Friday, October 21, 2011

An Idiot Abroad (2010) (TV Series)

Stars: Karl Pilkington, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
'An Idiot Abroad' is a comedy travel show in which Karl Pilkington travels around the world to see the seven wonders. Its basically his reactions to things he find and the cultural differences he encounters throughout his travels. He is also put into situations, that would provoke him, by Ricky and Steve who are not travelling. As Ricky puts it, 'Its a very expensive practical joke'. And the outcome is hilarious.

The season two of the show is named 'The Bucket List'.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Matt Damon's Directorial Debut

Director: Matt Damon
Writers:  John Krasinski, Dave Eggers, Matt Damon
Following the footsteps of his friend from childhood, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon is set for his directorial debut with an untitled film which he will co-write with John Krasinski. Damon is set to play the role of a salesman who has a life changing experience after he moves to a small town.

Matt Damon had won an oscar for the screenplay for 'Good Will Hunting', which he co-wrote with Ben Affleck.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Imitation Game (201?)

Director: Ron Howard (Rumored)
Writer:    Graham Moore
Cast:      Leonardo DiCaprio (Rumored)

Leonardo DiCaprio is rumored to take up the role of brilliant British Mathematician Alan Turing in forthcoming biopic 'The Imitation Game'. Ron Howard is said to be interested in directing the film.

Turing was a second world war hero, being heavily involved in cracking the German codes as he had a knack to detect patterns. He was the first to find mathematical patterns in Biology. His theories were the first to attempt at explaining meta-morphogenesis, identical cells clustering to form different features, in a mathematical basis.

His life ended in a tragic manner because as he was arrested for having a relationship with a young man. He took the option to inject injections that would supposedly change his nature over going to jail. He went into a state of depression and was found dead in his apartment by his cleaner. Coroner's verdict was suicide.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Game of Thrones - Season 1 (2011)

Creators: David Beinoff, D.B.Weiss, Robert R R Martin
Cast:       Lena Hadley, Jack Gleeson, Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, Aidan Gillen

Its an adaptation of fantasy novel series 'Song of Ice and Fire' (Robert R R Martin. Its supposed to be a seven part series with 5 parts already out and the season one of TV series is the adaptation of first one called Game of Thrones. Even though its of fantasy genre it is essentially a political drama with great characters. The greatest thing about it is that there are no black and white characters. All of them are scheming unpredictable real life like people. Love it. There is a dwarf character who is my favorite from the show. First season has 10 episodes. The production quality is very high with exquisite visuals. The budget for first season was about 60 million dollars and they are not wasting it on shitty CGI. Even though you might get the impression of an action packed series from the trailer, its far from it. Its all about the characters.

Season two will be aired next year only. Planning to read the novels before that.

Season 1: 4.5/5

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Attack the Block (2011)

Director: Joe Cornish
Writer:    Joe Cornish
Cast:      John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Nick Frost, Alex Ismail
'Attack the Block' is the directorial debut of writer Joe Cornish in which a teen gang in south London defend their block from an alien invasion. Its a genre film bordering on the the style of B films of old. Its an action comedy but the amount of comedy you would expect is not met. Initially I was put off by the cringe worthy script but the film improves as it goes on. The action sequences are done very well with great soundtrack to back it up.

It would have been interesting the reaction the film would have got if it was released after the London riots.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Tree of Life (2011)

Director: Terrence Malick
Writer:    Terrence Malick
Cast:      Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken
Terrence Malick's Palme d'Or winning 'The Tree of Life' is a meditative film chronicling the origins and meaning of life by way of a middle aged man's childhood memories of his family living in 1950s Texas, interspersed with stunning visuals of the origin of the Universe and inception of life on earth. It should be watched in HD and is the most stunning piece of visuals I have seen (Yes it surpasses 2001: A Space Odyssey). The narrative is a bit complex but after the first hour its pretty straightforward.

Its  not for everyone and unsurprisingly it didn't do well in box office. Who cares as long as Malick finds money for his next venture. He is being more prolific these days with two films in the pipeline. The second one is called 'Voyage of Time' and Brad Pitt and Emma Thompson doing the narration. Its an examination of the birth and death of the universe and will be using the footage they shot for 'The Tree of Life'.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

J. Edgar (2011)

Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer:    Dustin Lance Black
Cast:      Leonardo Dicaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts
J.Edgar is a biopic of the former FBI director J.Edgar Hoover, who was feared and admired, reviled and revered. Behind closed doors he held secrets that would have destroyed his image, career and life. Film is set for release by January 2012.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gattaca (1997)

Director: Andrew Niccol
Writer:    Andrew Niccol
Cast:      Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, Uma Thurman
Ethan Hawke plays the role of a genetically inferior man (naturally conceived with love) who assumes the role of a superior in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel. Things get a little more complicated when a murder occurs just a week before his voyage.

Its a good old school sci-fi film and shows a world which is driven by eugenics. It didn't do well in the box office.

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writers:  Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Burgess (Novel)
Cast:      Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates
In future Britian, a charismatic delinquent Alex DeLarge is jailed for a murder. He volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society's crime problems...but not all goes to plan.

Some elements of Nature vs. Nurture debate is handled in film and its essentially a satire on liberal and non-liberal attitudes to dealing with crime. The conservative government borders on being a totalitarian regime which thinks criminals can be treated by what essentially is a torture technique which takes away the moral choice away from the subject. They want to free up space in jails and save money, leaving prisons free for locking up political prisoners.

McDowell is excellent in the title role and as always the sets are colors are stunning as in a Kubrick film. It was banned in England following some criminal incidents that was thought to be inspired from the film. Kubrick requested Warner brothers to take the film off from cinema and such was Kubrick's power over them that they relented. It was re released years later.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Director: Edgar Wright
Writers:  Michael Bacall, Edgar Wright, Bryan Lee O'Malley
Cast:      Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin,Jason Scwartzman
Scott Pilgrim (Cera) must defeat his new girlfriend's seven evil exes in order to win her heart. The film is very funny and visually stunning with its video game looks and witty script. Its didn't do well when it got released but has been a hit on the DVD Blu Ray market.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oldboy (2013)

Director: Spike Lee
Writers:  Garon Tsuchiya, Nobuaki Minegishi, Mark Protosevich
Cast:      Josh Brolin, Christian Bale (Rumored)
Spike Lee and Josh Brolin are now attached to the hollywood remake of Korean Classic 'Oldboy'. Christian Bale is also rumored to play the role of the rich man taking revenge. All round better choice than the previous Spielberg-Will Smith one.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Death and the Maiden (1994)

Director: Roman Polanski
Writers:  Ariel Dorfman (Play), Rafael Yglesias
Cast:      Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Stuart Wilson
A political activist is convinced that her guest is a man who once tortured her for the government. Ben Kingsley is great as the guest and Stuart Wilson is good as the confused husband. I was not that inpressed by Sigourney Weaver. The initial part of the plot is very contrived and the ending was disappointing for me. I between the film is good and watchable.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kevin Smith: Sold Out - A Threevening with Kevin Smith (2009)

Stars: Kevin Smith
Its basically a Q&A stage show in Kevin Smith's hometown in Jersey on his 37th birthday. Great to watch and hear his stories.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Paradise Lost (2012)

Director: Alex Proyas
Writers:  Lawrence Kasdan, Stuart Hazeldine, Philip de Blasi, Ryan Condal, John Milton (Poem), Byron Willinger
Cast:      Bradley Cooper, Benjamin Walker 
'Paradise Lost', the new film from Alex Proyas set for 2012, is an action heavy take on John Milton's epic poem centered on the war in heaven between archangels Michael and Lucifer. Cooper is set to play Lucifer and Walker will play Michael.

Flirting with Disaster (1996)

Director: David O'Russell
Writer:    David O'Russell
Cast:      Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, Josh Brolin
A young man, his wife and an incompetent case worker travel across the country to meet the man's biological parents. Its a solidly good comedy with some set piece characters thrown in.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Crow (1994)

Director: Alex Proyas
Writers:  James O'Barr (Comic Book), David J.Schow, James Shirley
Cast:      Brandon Lee, Michael Wincott, Rochelle Davis
Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his fiancee Shelly is brutally murdered in the eve of their wedding. One year later he comes back to life as an undead avenger of his and his fiancee's murder.

The story is very simplistic but the film is very unique because of his unique visual style and good one liners. Its the best comic book adaptation I have seen along with 'Sin City'. Brandon Lee, legendary Bruce Lee's son, plays the lead character with great aplomb and I was reminded greatly of Heath Ledger's Joker Character in Dark Knight. Lee died 8 days before the end of the schedule because of wound from an accidental gunshot. The scenes that were not completed were the flash back scenes.

Rating: 4.5/5

Blade Runner 2 (?)

Director: Ridley Scott
Seems Ridley Scott is gonna make another blade runner film. Not sure whether it would be a sequel, prequel or side sequel. Original Blade Runner was a loosely based adaptation of Philip K.Dick novel 'Do androids dream of electric sheep'. It has several cuts with the final cut being the best one. When the film was released it was spoiled by studio interventions.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spanking The Monkey (1994)

Director: David O'Russell
Writer:    David O'Russell
Cast:      Jeremy Davies, Alberta Watson, Elizabeth Newett
Ray is a promising medical student ready to begin a prestigious summer internship in Washington, which he is desperate to do.. He is forced to come back home to take care of his depressed mother who is recovering from a fractured leg, as his father was going away on a sales trip. Troublesome events leaves him emotionally confused as he and his mother are left alone together, and they develop an incestuous relationship.

This was the debut film of David O'Russell and is commendable effort considering the daringness of the subject matter. It was made on a very low budget and was well received by the critics. There is no cop out ending which is also great.

Rating: 3.5/5

Monday, August 15, 2011

I ♥ Huckabees (2004)

Director: David O'Russell
Writers:  David O'Russell, Jeff Baena
Cast:      Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Mark Wahlberg, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Isabelle Huppert, Naomi Watts
The film is also called 'I heart Huckabees' and in it Bernard (Hoffman) and Vivian (Tomlin) plays existential detectives who help their client to find out about the meaning of their life. They believe that everything in the world is interconnected.They have a rival, Caterine (Huppert), who believes that their is no meaning to life and it is full of cruelty and despair. Jason Scwartzman play Albert Markovski who campaigns for nature (Open Spaces) and is being ousted from his coalition by Brad (Jude Law)  who is an executive at Huckabees corporation and has jumped on the bandwagon. He lives with Dawn (Watts), the model for the company ads. There is also Tommy Corn (Wahlberg) who campaigns against petroleum after the 'September Incident' and is also a client of Bernard and Vivian. As you can see this incredible sets of characters forms this quirky film dealing with existential philosophy and the meaning of life.

The performances of Wahlberg is excellent in one of the best roles of his career. All the others are great too. The film didn't do well at the box office grossing just 20 million on its 22 million dollars budget. Its understandable as the film would attract a narrow audience only.

Rating: 4.5/5

Salt N' Pepper (2011)

Director: Aashiq Abu
Writers:  Syam Pushkaran, Dileesh Nair
Cast:      Lal, Aasif Ali, Shweta Menon, Mythili, Baburaj
Salt N' Pepper is romantic comedy which narrates the love of two couples who all come to know about each other through a dosa. The film is stylishly shot with  great opening and closing credits. It has a great first half where the focus is more on love of food while in the second half the focus is on human love only. I thought this was a let down. There are many 'Thattikoottal' scenes in the second half with lots of drag with unnecessary songs. Still there are plenty of laughs and its a great entertainer.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, August 12, 2011

Will (2011)

Director: Ellen Perry
Writer:    Ellen Perry, Zack Anderson
Cast:      Damian Lewis, Bob Hoskins, Alice Krige
The film Will was premiered in Cannes this year and its about an orphan running away journeying across Europe to see what turned out to be the greatest final ever in Istanbul. From the trailer it looks a bit too melodramatic. The concept is good and if they focus more on his journey then it might turn out to be good. Kenny Dalglish, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher makes cameo appearances in the film.