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Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2010)

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Oldboy (2003, Korean)

Director: Park Chan-wook
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Cast: Min-sik Choi

Fifteen years of hatred turns to guilt.

Oldboy 2003 Korean
First few minutes (rather an hour!) of the movie don't make much sense—obviously scripted like that on purpose. We do realize director is planning a twist down the line but are fairly apprehensive as many movies fail to create that perfect ending—when it comes to a twist, not every movie is a 'Rebecca' or 'Perfume'. This movie though, is almost in league with the best.
A beautifully and thoughtfully written script unravels the mystery/purpose of whatever all that didn't made sense earlier.

Oh Dae-su is in captivity for past fifteen years. In this time-period, after getting over the initial depression, he maintains his fitness through shadow training. He is now out and seeking revenge and you too are rooting for him. Some way forward into the movie, you don’t know who to support!
Now, Park Chan-wook very artistically represents so-called villain’s aspect. The villainy in the movie isn’t exactly a criminal act as those involved don’t hurt anyone or even feel guilty until one of them cracks under societal pressure. This breakdown is partly due to an act of our protagonist and, in-a-way, makes him the bad-guy. But his act wasn’t villainous either; however, you do feel sympathy for the affected. By the end of movie, what eventually happens with our hero simply leaves you dumbstruck. This ‘what’ was an act of sheer villainy, still—testimony to class of director and script—you are muttering under your breadth, ‘revenge is sweet’!
In all, it is about a highly-improbable scenario that occurs in extremities of convoluted mind/heart/soul.

As for violence, movie isn't as graphic as; say, those 'Saw' or 'Hostel' movies but what it does to your mind (recall that tooth-pulling scene!) is way more disturbing than it is in movies specifically made for showing blood-gore. The emotions are running so high that you feel hatred and vengeance in your bones.

Subject/content of the movie is not much of a taboo (it simply is), more specifically 'incest', as much has been written and shown about it. Of course in today's modern world 'incest' isn't socially accepted but in the past there have been tribes, royalties, even civilizations where this was a common practice and not that big a deal. Director here doesn't dabble in moralities; he simply introduces you to the depths of a twisted human mind.

This is a very powerful film in terms of analysis of human psyche, and cleverly, Park Chan-wook steers clear of depicting/justifying good or evil. He leaves all that to viewers. Even the last scene shows Oh Dae-su (once the movie ends you realize how fabulous Min-sik Choi actually was) with a contorted smile and you simply wonder!  

And no surprise, a remake (Spike Lee) is in pipeline!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Story (1983)

Director: Bob Clark
Genre: Comedy

A Christmas Story (1983)
Plot: "just like the one your Dad had!"

One of the best Christmas movies you'll see and it is nothing like Clark’s bummer ‘Baby Geniuses’!

‘Christmas Story’ is a hell of a joyride where you get to feel the ultimate high of revisiting your own childhood. It’s like...Clark turned into a kid himself to direct this movie. In every aspect this film is near perfect—immaculate cast, stupendous role-play by everyone (mother, father, kids, teacher, bully etc!), and a lighthearted, perfect for Christmas, script based on some short stories.

Few scenes are simply unmatchable examples of top notch direction that required Clark to not only have a good understanding of situation but also a connection from his own past at an emotional level.
  • Case in point - the ‘soap-poisoning’ scene where the protagonist Ralphie fantasizes (like most kids do!) an entire sequence that shows how he makes his parents feel guilty for punishing him! He drifts-off into his little, routine fantasy in a sad mood with tears on face but by its end, he has a smile/satisfaction on face.
  • Another scene, that is perfection personified in terms of acting too, is Ralphie’s fight with the big bully—watch out for Ralphie’s expressions while he turns from a near cry-baby to a ferocious, raging bull! Kind of reminded me of a 'young me' at some point of time ;)  
Each and every character emanate the vibes that make you believe as if you are watching a real-life family caught on hidden cameras. You feel yourself being a part of it and enjoy the day-to-day laughs with the family.           

To top it all, engrossing and hilarious narration by an adult Ralphie keeps you glued into the movie throughout!

What more! I want a Red Ryder BB gun right now ;)


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

Director: Brad Bird
Cast: Tom Cruise
Genre: Action

 Plot: 'Top Gun' is back on the hunt!

Ghost Protocol
A full-blown entertainer with some scenes/stunts you would love to repeat again.

The movie won't show you anything that hasn't been shown on-screen before apart from world's tallest building and some high-tech gadgetry that simply blow your mind away.
The gadgets are way cooler than all earlier movies and good enough to rival Bond flicks. Compared to the previous comparatively darker MI3, MI4 has some pretty good laughs in it.

The Indian audience is in for some disappointment. Anil Kapoor’s role was supposed to be of a billionaire Playboy but he looked more like nutjob and comedian--rather a sidekick of a comedian as Simon Pegg was already doing the job decently! He reminded me more Shakti Kapoor--the Indian comic actor!

MI4 features some daring stunts and by the interval your adrenaline is rushing very high. You want it to reach the level next and end the crescendo with a big-bang. That doesn't happen. The climax sequence in India, that had to be grand, leaves you in want for more action--it rather ends meekly.

The way it was publicized, most of us MI4 franchise fans, expected to see the best action movie of the year or even last decade! Don't go-in with too many expectations and you'll enjoy it more than I did!

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