Monday, December 31, 2012

Dark Horse (2011)

Director: Todd Solondz
Writer:   Todd Solondz
Cast:      Jordan Gelber, Selma Blair, Christopher Walken
Romance blooms between two thirty somethings in arrested development: an avid toy collector who is the dark horse of his family  and a depressed woman on the rebound.

The problem with the film is that there isn't the freshness for the theme that I felt when I watched Solondz's Happiness. Its kind of already been done, albeit the unlikableness of the protagonist is almost unreal in this case.

Rating: 2.5/5

Cosmopolis (2012)

Director: David Cronenberg
Writers:  David Cronenberg, Don DeLillo
Cast:      Robert Pattinson, Sarah Gadon, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Durand
Riding across Manhattan in a stretch limo in order to get a haircut, a 28 year old billionaire asset manager's day devolves into an odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart.

I saw it twice in the space of two days. First time i got a general idea about its theme but didn't have a clue about the last thirty minutes due to combination of being sleepy and the film being too demanding. It is not a film that one should watch in cinemas as you need to rewind some of the dialogues to truly understand what the fuck is going  on. The film is really very contemporary as the current feeling towards capitalism and the antagonism towards the top one percentile is depicted in the film. The first 70 minutes of the film is showing the stale nature of existence of the super rich and the next 40 minutes balances it out by showing the worthlessness, thoughtlessness and helplessness of the people who protest against the so called capitalists. In effect it mocks everyone.

It is not a film that people would like and it is not meant to be. It is a must watch though. Two great limo films in 2012-Cosmopolis and Holy Motors. Both of them difficult watches but great nevertheless.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Yin shi nan nu (Eat Drink Man Woman) (1994)

Director: Ang Lee
Writers:  Ang Lee, James Schamus, Wang Jui-Ling
Cast:      Sihung Ling, Yu-Wen Wang, Chien-lien Wu
A senior chef lives with his three grown daughters; the middle one finds her future plans affected by unexpected events and the life changes of the other household members.

The film felt like the feel good Malayalam family films of the 90s. Ang Lee could have taken intelligence of the audience for granted and made the film much more subtle. As it stands it looks a bit cliched. I saw it being compared to Edward Yang's 'Yi Yi' Yang's effort  is a far superior work and a must watch.

Rating: 2.5/5

Karen llora en un bus (Karen Cries on the Bus) (2011)

Director: Gabriel Rojas Vera
Writer:   Gabriel Rojas Vera
Cast:      Angela Carrizosa, Juan Manuel Diaz Oroztegui, Diego Galindo
Language: Spanish
Karen discovers, after 10 years of marriage, she has left behind her dreams devoting herself to home chores and realizes it has been a mistake that cost her youth.

It is set in Bogota, Colombia and is a good watch.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, December 28, 2012

Watchmen (2009)

Director: Zack Snyder
Writers:  David Hayter, Alex Tse, David Gibbons, Alan Moore
Cast:      Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Malin Akerman, Jackie Earle Haley
In an alternate 1985 where superheroes exist, the murder of a colleague sends active vigilante Rorschach  into his own sprawling investigation, uncovering something that could completely change the course of history as we know it.

The film is good in parts and the ending is also very unexpected in a good way. But the cast and the script is not good enough to fully justify sitting through the almost three hours length of it. It just felt like a B grade director doing an A grade story. The films to compare with would be 'Sin City' and Nolan's Batman Trilogy and in both these cases the caliber of directors and cast involved take them to a different level compared to Watchmen.

Anyways got to watching some Alan Moore interviews after watching the film. He never endorses any of the film adaptations of his graphic novels. V for Vendetta was also written by him. Would have been better off reading the novel rather than watching the film.

Rating: 2.5/5

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Offret (The Sacrifice) (1986)

Director:Andrey Tarkovskiy
Writer:  Andrey Tarkovskiy
Cast:     Erland Josephson, Susan Fleetwood
Language: Swedish
At the dawn of WW3 a man searches for a way to restore peace to the world and finds he must give something in return.

This is Tarkovskiy's last film and was shot in Sweden while he was battling with cancer. He was a great admirer of Swedish Director Ingmar Bergman and you can see that influence in this film. The first hour can be an ordeal and would need multiple viewing to fully appreciate it. Didn't find it as compelling as his other films like Stalker, Solyaris, Nostalghia etc.

Rating: 3.5/5 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Senna (2010)

Director: Asif Kapadia
Writer:    Manish Pandey
A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34.

The documentary uses only archival footage and there is no after the fact interview about Senna or anything like that. We see the character of Senna develop from his early days, then his rivalry with team mate Alain Prost, his world titles and then his switch to Williams from McLaren and then his tragic death at Imola. Senna comes across as a very likeable and passionate character with a tremendous drive to win. The main thing that attracts people towards sports is the fact that it is unscripted and many times you get dramas that are far better than anything that is scripted. Senna is a must watch documentary even if you are not at all interested in Formula One or any sport for that matter.

Rating: 5/5

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer:   Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast:      Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman
A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged into a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.

After Magnolia which ran for more than 3 hours Paul T Anderson told he will be making an Adam Sandler 90 minute film and everyone thought he was joking. But like all good directors, he extracts an impressive performance from an actor who is not re-known for his acting ability. It is a shame that Sandler didn't again try his hands on films like this and went back to making his shitty comedy films. He also turned down Tarantino's 'Inglourious Basterds' to make one of his other comedy trash. PDL will be his best comedy film and it is not just a comedy film.

This was my second viewing of PDL and found it even more enjoyable. Stunning cinematography and soundtrack and excellent performances from the cast. The encounter between Sandler and Hoffman at the end is a stand out scene. That's that.

Rating: 5/5

Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Director: Roman Polanski
Writers:  Roman Polanski, Ira Levin (Novel)
Cast:      Mia Farrow, Ruth Gordon, John Cassavetes
A young couple move into a new apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins controlling her life.

I am not a fan of horror films and was not that really interested in watching this film. But it is not really a horror film based on the genre's recent years definition with plenty of gore and in your face screams and all that. This is more of a psychological thriller and horror films used to be like that in the good old days. Mia Farrow and Ruth Gordon plays their part excellently and it is a wonderful watch. This was Polanski's first American film. The original tagline for the film was: 'Pray for Rosemary's Baby'. Need to watch 'The Tenant' now to complete Polanski's so called 'Apartment Trilogy'.

A remake of the film was considered in 2008 with Michael 'Fucking' Bay as producer. It fell through and thank goodness.

Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Moneyball (2011)

Director: Bennett Miller
Writers:  Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin
Cast:      Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to acquire new players.

The film is based on Michael Lewis' book of the same name. The film is more about Moneyball Philosophy rather than the character Billy Beane and that is why the ending is not a Hollywood one. Like in real life Billy Beane turns down offer from Boston Red Sox's John W.Henry (Current Liverpool F.C owner as well), and red sox, who hires the author of Sabermetrics Bill James, goes on to win the championship two years later. Billy Beane again repeated the feat depicted in the film in 2012 by winning the AL West again with the lowest payroll in MLB and a record setting 54 wins.

The film is a good one but not something I am compelled to watch again. Steven Soderbergh was supposed to direct it originally.

Rating: 3.5/5

Friday, December 21, 2012

Alien (1979)

Director: Ridley Scott
Writers:  Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett
Cast:      Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
The crew of a commercial deep space mining ship, investigating a suspected S.O.S, lands on a distant planet and discovers a nest of strange eggs.

The film has aged well considering its made in 1979. The fact that the Alien is not shown fully and we get only fleeting glimpses mostly helps. Its a well made horror film with a great tagline: 'In space, no one can hear you scream'. Many of its iconic scenes have been copied in many other films and all.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Bourne Legacy (2012)

Director: Tony Gilroy
Writers:  Tony Gilroy, Dan Gilroy
Cast:      Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton
An expansion of the Universe from Robert Ludlum's novels, centered on a new hero whose stakes have been triggered by the events of previous three films.

If you can stop comparing it to the quality of the Bourne trilogy, its a good enough action film. Plot is very convoluted in the second half but the first half helps you to tag along till the end. Suspend your disbelief and just watch it as a pure action film, unlike the Jason Bourne films. Don't see why Renner is considered so high up in terms of his acting ability.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holy Motors (2012)

Director:   Leos Carax
Writer:     Leos Carax
Cast:        Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes
Language: French
From dawn to desk, a few hours in the life of Monsieur Oscar, a shadowy character who journeys from one life to the next. He is, in turn, captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man...

We are left to interpret what it means and it could be the acting we do to get through the life. It could be a showcase for how life is for an actor taking on different roles. Amazing performance from Lavant in a very memorable film.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Monuments Men (2014)

Director: George Clooney
Writer:    George Clooney
Cast:       Daniel Craig, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett
In a race against time, a crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renown works of art stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys it.

The film with its high powered cast will be Clooney's next directorial venture after Ides of March.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Director: Edgar Wright
Writers:  Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Cast:      Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield
A man decides to turn his moribund life around  by winning back his ex-girlfriend, reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead to eat the living.

This was Edgar Wright's directorial film debut after the success of TV series 'Spaced' which also had the same team. The film is inspired from one episode of Spaced and obviously from 'Dawn of the Dead' (Romero's Dead Trilogy). It is dead funny.

Rating: 5/5

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Casablanca (1942)

Director: Michael Curtiz
Writers:  Julius J.Epstein, Philip G.Epstein, Howard Koch, Casey Robinson
Cast:      Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid
Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War 2: An American expatriate meets a former lover with unforeseen complications.

Casablanca translates to 'White House' and Humphrey Bogart's character and story can be seen as a metaphor for the US actions in World War. Humphrey Bogart is great as usual as the Cynical but cool protagonist.

Rating: 4.5/5