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Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2010)

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fast 5 (2011)

Director: Yipin Lin
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson
Genre: Action

Plot: Fast cars are back on the road once moreonly this time they have a Vault trailing them!

First things first, I am not a die-hard fan of Fast and Furious franchise and wasn’t too excited about Fast 5 either. The movie starts out in somewhat dullish manner as the initial daylight breakout scene or the Train robbery scene weren’t as awe-inspiring as a sequel number ‘5’ must boast of. 

Fast 5 (2011)
 Eventually, the film moves to Rio and continues with regular gun fights, escapes, chases, hideouts etc. In the meantime, we are introduced to the man who succeeds where all others fail—Dwayne Johnson ‘Rock.’ Dom (Diesel) also gathers his team to take on the Rio Crime boss. There are confrontations between all three groups and now the movie seems to gain rhythm. With some more body counts, explosions, car chases and a ‘Rock-Diesel’ slugfest movie definitely gets bigger—somehow not better. This changes when movie climaxes to an over the top final car chase scene. This is the scene that makes it up for entire movie and justifies Lin’s deliberate docility in first-half action - he does a commendable job in building up Fast 5.

This is not all; it ends even more fantastically! Spoilers ahead—back in D.C (between the credits roll-out with some catchy soundtracks) you find out ‘Rock’ being assigned to another mission and it’s Big. A military convoy has been high-jacked! And this is the work of a—won’t give that away, however, you might guess it as I did!—‘Ghost’.
The end really makes me look forward to Fast 6 (2013)!

The only thing I would hope Lin incorporates in his next installment is a real Villian—of equal magnitude to the ‘heroes’. Even if he ropes in someone with 20% ‘Joker's’ credibility, it’ll balance out the sequel beautifully and get rid of any clich√©s.   


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986, Japanese)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Genre: Animation
Laputa - Castle in the Sky (1986, Japanese).jpg
Inspired by "The Gulliver's Travel" this is another anime masterpiece from the master of hand drawn animation. Miyazaki once again takes you to a dreamworld with flying machine, pirates, a young hero, and a damsel in distress!
The way Miyazaki captures the beauty of nature is better than anything you find onscreen. The creative efforts, thought-process are distinctly visible as always.

A must watch.


Howl's Moving Castle (2004, Japanese - Hauru no ugoku shiro)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Genre: Animation

World War I is the backdrop for this unusual and, as always, dreamy world of Miyazaki.

Howl's Moving Castle
Howl’s Moving Castle is strange in an interesting, rather pleasing, way. It is more like a disjointed dream you enjoyed so much but can’t make much sense of. This is a sort of movie where you need to lose all your senses and go with Mayazaki flow. 

Howl is a wizard who falls for a young hat-maker Sophie. A jealous witch turns Sophie into a wretched old woman but this actually unleashes Sophie's enshrouded adventurous streak! They live in a world controlled by secretive magic where two Kingdoms are at war—because of a missing Prince. Howl has always avoided war, however this time he has a reason to get involved.

The movie is another perfect example of hand-drawn and beautiful Mayazaki animation, and its commercial success proves there is still audience that loves olde worlde style of animation. Even those fed on today’s top notch, hi-tech animation welcomed it as a breath of fresh air.

From my very personal perspective I’ll rate “Laputa” above it—as it was made in 1986 and is at par with “Howl” in terms of sheer creativity. Now, "Monoke Hime" and "Nausica√§" are at another level!

A must watch, and a perfect escapade from an unhindered dose of sequels and too much technology—courtesy the likes of Transformers!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

eXistenZ (1999)

Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Genre: Sci-Fi

Plot: Set in a future where virtual reality is more or less the way of life.

eXistenZ (1999)This movie simply bowls you over! Hats off to Cronenberg—what foresightedness.
Even today this movie is way ahead of time. Back in the 90s virtual reality was just making inroads into our lives but there weren’t any serious implications—let alone deaths! However, in last few years “Deaths while playing video games” are all in news. Cronenberg saw the pros/cons of it in advance and made a movie out of it.

There is no point discussing the movie and giving away the key plot, it must be watched. There are elements like mutated amphibians, bio pods, organic weapons which give it a futuristic look but one might find the acting/screenplay part a bit docile, i.e. until you see the climax. The climax simply is top notch and director/actors justify their unconventional approach to the movie.

I have always been a huge fan of Jennifer Jason Leigh especially her intoxicating smile (“Single White Female” and Verhoven’s “Flesh+Blood”). She once again brings to screen a sort of deadly innocence!

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