Thursday, March 28, 2013

Trois couleurs: Rouge (Three Colors: Red) (1994)

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Writers:  Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Cast:      Irene Jacob, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Frederique Feder

Final entry in a trilogy of films dealing with contemporary French society concerns a model who discovers her neighbor is keen on invading people's privacy.

This is Kieslowski's last film as he died two years later. As a standalone film, it is the best film of the trilogy but its better to take the three films as a whole. It is similar to Double Life of Veronique in the sense that in this film also by the end you will realize that a single character resides in two bodies. It is the most Lynchian Kieslowski film.

Kieslowski had announced retiring after this project but was working on a script for another trilogy with his collaborator Piesiewicz with themes Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. First one was later made by Tom Tykwer. Three Colors trilogy and Decalogue alone is enough for Kieslowski to be considered among the greatest of them all. Shame that he died early at the age of 54. 

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ted (2012)

Director: Seth MacFarlene
Writers:   Seth MacFarlene, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild
Cast:       Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlene

As the result of a childhood wish, John Bennett's teddy bear, Ted, came to life and has been by John's side ever since- a friendship that's tested when Lori, John's girlfriend of four years, wants more from their relationship.

It is fucking shit with some sporadic laughs in between and none of which you will remember after watching the film.

Rating: 2/5

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Trois couleurs: Blanc (Three Colors: White) (1994)

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Writers:  Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Cast:      Zbigniew Zamachowski, Julie Delpy
Language: Polish, French

Second of a trilogy of films dealing with contemporary French society shows a Polish immigrant who wants to get even with his ex-wife.

The film's theme is equality which is represented by the white color in French flag. It is a dark comedy with the two characters having a love-hate relationship based on the power they command over the other half. Back story to their relationship is not given and the film starts with the divorce proceedings. It can be seen as a metaphor to the condition of immigrants in a developed country. The first half for example can be seen as the attitude towards Polish immigrants in England and the second half, attitude towards the millionaires from Russia/Middle East buying up property in  London.

The sympathy we feel towards the characters change as the film progresses. By the end we feel equally good or bad towards both the characters and in that sense equality is achieved. 

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Conversation (1974)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writer:    Francis Ford Coppola
Cast:      Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield

A paranoid and personally-secretive surveillance expert has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that a couple he is spying on will be murdered.

Saw it again the other day. Sandwiched between Godfather 1 and 2, Conversation is a film that gets overlooked by many. It is almost as good as the other two and it is sad that Coppola petered out after Apocalypse Now. The film came out before Nixon resigned because of the Watergate Scandal but the film's creation was not influenced by the scandal. Coppola had cited Antonioni's 'Blow Up' as an inspiration for this film and it is one I want to get my hands on.

Rating: 5/5

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Trois couleurs: Bleu (Three Colors: Blue) (1993)

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Writers:  Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Cast:      Juliette Binoche, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Emmanuelle Riva
Language: French

First of a trilogy of films dealing with contemporary French society concerns how the wife of a composer deals with the death of her husband and child.

I saw the trilogy initially on TV in UTV World Movies some 4-5 years back. Decided to watch it again seeing that the guys at Auteurcast are going through Kieslowski films now. The films are named after the three colors in the French flag: Blue, White and Red representing Liberty, Equality and Fraternity respectively which are also the themes represented in film. 

As it is usually the case with Kieslowski films, there is not a scene wasted and is shot beautifully using colors, lights and reflections well. The story is quite straight forward and some characters that appear in later films in the trilogy are also seen briefly.

Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Waking Life (2001)

Director: Richard Linklater
Writer:    Richard Linklater
Cast:      Wiley Wiggins, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpie

A man shuffles through a dream meeting various people and discussing the meanings and purpose of the universe.

Similar to Scanner Darkly,  this film was also using the animation technique called rotoscoping where live action footage is overlaid with animation. It is great film for those who are interested existentialism and I personally connected to lot of the ideas being discussed in the film. One find books and films to be great when it conveys ideas very close to what you have thought of originally and I find lot of Richard Linklater's work in that category. 

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Director: Mike Nichols
Writer:   Ernest Lehman
Cast:      Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis

A bitter aging couple with the help of alcohol, use a young couple to fuel anguish and emotional pain towards each other.

I naively thought that the film will be about the modernist writer Virginia Woolf. The film is considered groundbreaking for the American film industry with the level of profanity and sexual implication that people were not used to seeing in films. It is an adaptation of the play of the same title by Edward Albee. It was the first film to get nominated for all the academy awards it was eligible for and the first one for the entire principal cast to get nominated as well. Mike Nichols went on to make Graduate for which he is most famous for but I think this will/should be considered as his best.

Rating: 5/5

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990)

Director: Tom Stoppard
Writer:    Tom Stoppard
Cast:      Tim Roth, Gary Oldman, Richard Dreyfuss

Two minor characters from the play, 'Hamlet' stumble around unaware of their scripted lives and unable to deviate from  them.

I didn't know about the story of Hamlet before watching the film and I think that adds to your viewing pleasure when you are watching this film for the first time. Many of its dialogues are philosophical and the film as a whole require multiple viewings to fully appreciate it. It is an adaptation of the play written by the director himself, Tom Stoppard. 

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

El espinazo del diablo (The Devil's Backbone)(2001)

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writers:  Guillermo del Toro, Antonio Trashorras, David Munoz
Cast:      Marisa Parades, Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi
Language: Spanish

After Carlos, a 12-year-old whose father has died in the Spanish Civil War, arrive at an omnibus boy's orphanage he discovers the school is haunted and has many dark secrets that he must uncover.

The ghost in the film is the least horror generating aspect of it. It is a magnificent film even if it is melodramatic at times. Violence is used in abundance and del Toro has described it as the sibling to his more acclaimed masterpiece 'Pan's Labyrinth'. 

Rating: 4/5

Friday, March 1, 2013

Rushmore (1998)

Director: Wes Anderson
Writers:  Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson
Cast:      Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams

The king of Rushmore prep school is put on academic probation.

The film is slightly autobiographical as Owen Wilson was expelled from his prep school and Wes Anderson used to have a crush on an older woman. Amazing performances from all concerned. It is much more accessible than Wes Anderson's first feature 'Bottle Rocket'.

Rating: 5/5

Arbitrage (2012)

Director:Nicholas Jarecki
Writer:   Nicolas Jarecki
Cast:      Richard Gere, Tim Roth, Susan Sarandon

A troubled hedge fund magnate desperate to complete the sale of his trading empire makes an error that forces him to turn to an unlikely person for help.

It is a surprisingly good film to watch even though there are plot holes that you can pick up on closer scrutiny. What is refreshing about it is that it doesn't take the usual crime doesn't pay routine.

Rating: 3.5/5