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Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2010)

Director: Werner Herzog and Dmitry Vasyukov Genre: Documentary With "Happy People: A Year in the Taiga" Werner Herzog ...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Director: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Cast: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle
Genre: Comedy

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)Plot: A low budget parody on the classic "The Excalibur (1981)". King Arthur is out in the search of his brave knights of the round-table. Once together, they are all assigned a mission to find the coveted Holy Grail.

A laugh riot! It features some satire over the then feudal system with a few scenes showing a comic representation of Swedish classic "The Seventh Seal (1957)".

One might enjoy it even without viewing the above mentioned movies. Though some scenes like—Knight guarding the bridge crossing— are best enjoyed with some background knowledge.

Watch out for the King Arthur's ride! It's plain hilarious.

Opening credits are funny and unique. And the "French insulting the British" scenes are ultimate. Dialogues are witty, as can be, and hardly use any cussing, which is remarkable!

Grab it now!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

K-Pax (2001)

Director: Iain Softley
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges
Genre: Mystery, Drama

Plot: Prot (Kevin Sapcey) is a mental patient whom a psychiatrist (Jeff Bridges) tries to help. One can probably guess who helps whom in the end. It is the HOW for which K-Pax must be watched.

Somehow the title K-Pax is not very appealing, unless you have already seen the movie because that is when you get a grasp over things.

It is an emotional movie and really heart-wrenching for someone a bit more sentimental.

"And even though you know it is not actually going to happen--The Beam of Light--you keep hoping it does." This sentence might not make much sense to you (if you have not seen the movie) but the entire movie revolves around this sentence.

As for me, I wasn't even aware this movie features one of my favorites--Kevin Spacey, and another one whom I hold in high esteem as an actor--Jeff Bridges. Watch it for them.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Great Escape(1963)

Director : John Sturges
Cast : Steve McQueen(Capt Hilts), Richard Attenborough(Roger Bartlett) James Garner (Hendley)

Genre: History/ Adventure/ Drama

Plot: A star studded classic based on the real prison break events of WWII in Germany. Germans have set up an escape proof prison camp for the frequent escapees of allied forces. A group of POWs plan a massive escape for 100 plus detainees.

There is something about these pre—generation legends. When a movie begins you find there acts somewhat awkward then—as movie progresses—there persona starts taking over and in the end it's the characters that are left behind with you forever.

This was the exact case with "The Great Escape" as well. You wont ever forget the "Cooler king" Hilts, who is more often than not ends up in cooler-isolation cell or the "squadron leader" Bartlett or the Forger Lt. Blythe or the Aussie tools-magician Sedgwick, frankly all of them are so dear.

The actual escape plan of prisoners and it's preparation is very minutely shown in the movie. Plan was to run out with all the 250 prisoners and three tunnels were dug at one time-Tom, Dick, Harry. Though only 70 prisoners escape and just 20 of them reach there destinations rest are captured and shot dead. But what happens in-between all this is what you need to watch the move for.
Hilts potato acts keep everyone guessing and surprisingly comes out with a potato concoction for 4th of July. His coming back to the prison after escaping was also very admirable. This helped prisoners to plan out the escape routes.

The movie maintains a comic and jolly tone throughout. Germans want to keep the POWs isolated from war but POWs still do what a sworn officer is supposed to do—that is trouble the Germans as much as possible!
The recapture of the 50 prisoner was also a win for them because they drove the German sanity to hell before being captured and failed the enemy's objective of keeping them off war. They participated in their own unique manner!

A must watch.

Rebecca (1940)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson

Rebecca (1940)
A beautiful young woman marries a rich widower. Only to find out his mind is still quite occupied with memories of his charming dead wife.

Rebecca is the most complete cinematic education. Even after so many years, it is an unparalleled example in terms of shrewd direction. Alfred Hitchcock's trademark suspense is there as always; with the subtle representation of characters being backbone of the movie.

From the beginning till almost the end Mr. de Winter (Laurence Oliver) maintains an eccentric and somewhat unpredictable persona--reason being; death of his beloved, well-bred, sophisticated, and immaculate wife Rebecca. But there is so much more to it. Nearing the end you get to see some never thought of twists. You get to witness the class of Hitchcock.

After a while (in the second half of the film), you stop thinking there will be anymore unforeseen developments now--only some hidden secret about a particular character will be revealed. So, you aren't involved in any guess works and suddenly there is the bolt from the blue, trademark Hitchcock twist. Watch the movie and you will be awe-struck too!

The evil aura around Mrs.Danvers is what Maestro wants the audience to focus at, and they do. She completely adores Rebecca and a slight lesbianism can't be denied. Her fling with Rebecca's cousin makes it even more interesting. You become a detective and Hitchcock laughs! What a genius!

The best thing about the movie is character of 2nd Mrs.de Winter and its perfect representation. This is something you do associate Hitchcock with. His movies always study the female characters in-depth. Joan Fontaine's (2nd Mrs.de Winter) portrayal of character is perfection personified. She plays a middle class girl who suddenly gets married to a rich man and has to move into the huge Manderley mansion. Her awkwardness is so real--while transiting from middle class living to a high society. Fontaine's body language makes you wonder whether it's acting or actually happening with hidden cameras fitted around!

The Director's strength has always been his implicit narration, at times it is too much and seems baseless (like it was in case of The Birds). Here, this  narration is accurate and abstract. For Example, 2nd Mrs. de Winter's name isn't even used once in the whole movie. All such background details have been left to the audience's discretion.

World Cinema won't be complete without this masterpiece.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Brothers (2009)

Director: Jim Sheridan
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman

Plot: A story of two brothers and a family affected by the war.

Sam (Tobey Maguire) has been a winner all his life. A present war hero - Sam was the perfect athlete in school, has the hottest wife and two beautiful daughters complete his family.
Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) is his younger childhood-gone-wrong brother. He is unemployed, robs banks and always taunted by his Military retired father.

Sam goes to Afghanistan for his second visit, is captured and tortured with a Private. Both are presumed dead.
Back home Sam's stunningly beautiful, once cheerleader, wife - Grace (Natalie Portman) is dejected and two young daughters need a father figure. In this dreaded hour Tommy realizes his responsibility and comes out as a pillar of support for the entire family.
Grace wasn't much fond of him earlier but now she really appreciates a changed Tommy. Both are lonely and do feel some attraction toward each other though there consciences forbade it and they are able to resist any physical urge.
Sam is finally rescued and his Private companion is dead. He is in a state of delusion and very disturbed by what happened to him and what he was made to do.
Sam comes back home which he can't fit in anymore. He is suspicious that his brother and wife are in a relationship. The whole world has changed for him and his entire family.

How the family prevails from this dire strait - if at all and what made a war hero into a psycho? For answers the movie is a must watch.
Brothers might not have a very unique plot but it isn't cliched either.
Highlight of the movie is brotherhood of Sam and Tommy and there clear understanding and support for each other.
It features very strong performances by the trio - Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman and the remaining cast. And once again Natalie Portman has failed in doing a "bad movie" which is so often the case!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Centurion (2010)

Director: Neil Marshall

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Olga Kurylenko, Dave Legeno, Axelle Carolyn

Genre: Action/Adventure

Plot: A tale of decimation of Roman's legendary Ninth legion.

I remember seeing the beautiful landscape shots of Scotland in "Highlander". Centurion has them too, only they surpass "Highlander" by some way!
Another high point of the movie is very realistic action sequences, especially the sword fights. These scenes have some very swift camera work and shots pass-by before you can fully focus which makes them very authentic.

In the North simple farmers have taken up arms against tyranny oh Roman empire. They are destroying Roman garrison forts and killing soldiers using Guerilla warfare. Ninth legion is set out to kill the Pict leader of untamed North but is comprehensively beaten and mostly killed. The surviving soldiers take on an impossible return journey toward Rome.
Olga Kurylenko as a mute, cold Pict warrior looks incredible.

Please don't compare this low budget movie with the likes of Gladiator.

Acting is decent by almost all the cast. Dialogues are poorly done. Some slangs and words used are completely out of place and don't fit the time period.

Okay for a one time watch.


Garden State (2004)

Director: Zach Braff

Cast: Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, George C. Wolfe, Gary Gilbert

Genre: Drama/Comedy/Romance

Plot: A neat little film about a distress young man, in his mid twenties, returning home for his mother's funeral after almost ten years.

Andrew Largeman (Braff) had a somewhat troubled childhood which left a permanent dent on his psyche. His psychiatrist father always kept him under heavy medication.

Living away from family and friends Andrew has become quite detached and emotionally numb. His career isn't going places either. Finally he decides to quit his father's drugs. Andrew returns home for his mother's funeral but is very confused as he can not feel any sentiments in him.

Staying over a few days he meets up wih a beautiful, nosy girl- Sam (Natalie Portman). This girl is pretty straight forward about her feelings and helps Andrew with his emotions. Eventually Andrew comes out of his shell and mends the patchy relationship with his father.
He ends up with Sam after deciding not to go back to his work. Both of them are very happy and clueless about their future but also very confident that they will figure it out together.
And this the start of a new chapter in young couple's life!

Brilliant work by Zach Braff as a director. Exceeds expectation.


Tekken (2010)

Director: Dwight H. Little 
Cast: Jon Foo, Kelly Overton, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa 
Genre: Action

Plot: World is now ruled by 8 tyrant corporations. Jin goes all out against one such organization Tekken to exact revenge for his mother's death.

Tekken (2010) 
Not that Mortal Kombat (1995) was a box office giant but I loved it! This one is strictly for the game fans. Even they won't find it exciting enough! The fight scenes are cliched and script is haywire. Background music rocks your adrenaline for a while then loses the sting.

Only good thing about the movie is on screen personification of most of the characters. And a few hot girls!


Star Trek (2009)

Director : J.J. Abrams
Cast : Chris Pine,Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy,Eric Bana
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi

Plot: James Kirk is born on the day his father dies defending his star-fleet ship. Kirk grows-up to be a troublesome, uninspiring, good-for-nothing twenty something. All this not withstanding, Kirk fulfills his destiny as leadership was always in his blood.

Simply put: a modern day classic which divulges into the origins of an all time classic series!

Star Trek (2009)Star Trek series has always been there but not often it has held its own against the George Lucas's breath-taking and epic-like Star-Wars series. And now with "Indiana Jones" (Harrison Ford) about to hang his boots, "Lord Of The Rings" almost over save The Hobbit (1&2), Terminator not having the same appeal without Schwarzenegger, Mission Impossible series in doubt, Matrix resting in peace for good, James Bond lacking panache, and so on, the lovers of adventure, future fantasy, larger than life movies were wondering what next? So in that regard Star Trek has peaked at the right time. Lucas might revive Star Wars and stage a comeback with his Jedi Knights but that competition will be good for a grandeur showdown.

Initially, I was a bit apprehensive of Chris Pine as the ever voracious Cpt.Kirk but he proved me wrong, lead from the front like a true starship captain, and along with Zachary Quinto (Spock) stole the show away. The one high point of Star Trek is in-depth detailing of both these lead characters.

All actors have also given it all. None more than Zachary Quinto playing Spock.Zachary Quinto's thorough preparation and dedication for his role is distinctly visible. He grew his hair longer and dyed it, and shaved his eyebrows. All these highly compliment his dual Vulcan-Human heritage. Perfect casting!
In Zachary Quinto's own words: "I just felt like a nerd. I felt like I was 12 again, you look back at those pictures and you see the bowl cut. I was sporting that look for a good 4 or 5 years. There's no question I was born to play Spock."

This definitely looks the beginning of something grand which will last through this arriving decade (2010-2020).
Quinto and Pine have shown a very heart warming and promising onscreen chemistry.

Star Trek is full action and excitement. There is everything from black holes to time travel to mysterious aliens and anything else a fan of the genre can wish for.

The only drawback of the movie is wasting a talent like Eric Bana as rebellious Nero.

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