We'll tackle any film foreign or otherwise, paying exclusive attention to Arthouse, Indie & Cult features. Selected up to the minute News will also be given prominence.


December 25, 2011

Rakht Charitra 2








Director - Ram Gopal Varma

Genre - Action/Crime/Drama



We put our foot in our mouths when we raved in the review for the first movie that this continuing saga starring Vivek Oberoi will be awesome. We still stand by the first part that it was indeed good. The sequel however, leaves a bad aftertaste. The story here is underdeveloped and looks as if it was done in haste. The ending is abrupt and frankly, a discredit to the first film. Pratap (Vivek) here is like a shadow of himself in the earlier picture. Self-doubting and not as cocksure as he was before, Pratap is defeated time and again by his new nemesis. We weren't even sure who to root for anymore. The 'villain' who was out for revenge or Pratap, who disappointed us with his lack of resolve in dealing with his enemies. Like a cold chapati, this one shouldn't have been served up.

2 STARS!

All about Rakht Charitra 2

December 11, 2011

Araya









Director - Margot Benacerraf

Genre - Documentary



A Venezuelan documentary about the salt pyramids in a place called Araya and those who made their living there. Trust us, whatever job you're doing right now, it is nothing compared to what these people have to put up with. They toil from day to night, with little payment and in the scorching sun. They were resigned to their fate since childhood and it is the only thing they know. The director chose to shoot like a fly on the wall (in this case, on a salt pyramid) what they actually do in a day. After you watch this, you'll appreciate your job and life like you never did before. It is an affirmation of the human ability to take on what seems impossible and turn it into an amazing possibility. The cinematography in black and white was illuminating too. Take a chance and give this a try. You won't regret it and might even learn a thing or two about human being's indomitable perseverance.

5 STARS!

All about Araya

December 4, 2011

Thor









Director - Kenneth Branagh

Genre - Action/Adventure/Fantasy



Directed by Kenneth Branagh, this is his first foray into commercial film-making. Previously, Branagh was mostly known for bringing adaptations of Shakespeare's plays such as 'Much Ado About Nothing' and 'Hamlet' to the screen. Although 'Thor' is a God with mythical leanings and his background story is indeed very Shakespearean-like, this is still a huge departure for Branagh. The world in which Thor lives serve well to transport our minds in tandem with the story's progression. We often shoot down the use of CGI but in here, the imagery constructed is wondrously captivating. Resembling a Greek or Shakespearean tragedy amped up with otherworldly disbursement of comic bravado, Branagh has turned the Superhero genre into something with more bite. Thor is a God amongst mortals, and in Branagh's hands, this distinction from the rest of Marvel's and DC's universe of Superheroes is clear. Maybe 'Superman' stood a chance of competing with such an invincible Avenger, but in the big screen at least, that possibility had already ceased to be with the 'Superman' franchise being quite dead in the water. Oh, did we mention that this movie is mighty entertaining as well?

3.5 STARS!

All about Thor

November 27, 2011

Drive









Director - Nicolas Winding Refn

Genre - Crime/Drama/Thriller



Set in an 80's vibe with a pulsating mood-driven soundtrack by Cliff Martinez (we thought it was composed by Angelo Badalamenti at first), this Nicolas Winding Refn vehicle incorporates arthouse sensibility within the genre of action drama. Ryan Gosling plays a stunt driver who occasionally drives the getaway car for robbers. His enclosed world starts to overturn when he falls in love with his neighbor (Carey Mulligan). When her deadbeat husband comes back into her life, our hero is forced to make some of the hardest decisions ever in his life. Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks (playing well against type) are the quintessential thorns in his side, their presence symbolizing bad omens forever waiting to throw his life into the bowels of damnation. There are so many reasons why we love this film we don't even know where to begin. Let's just say everything that could go right in a movie did here, and everything that could go wrong didn't. Oh, and Gosling is so irresistibly cool in this he quite possibly could kick start a trend with toothpicks!

5 STARS!

All about Drive

November 25, 2011

Band of Outsiders









Director - Jean-Luc Godard

Genre - Crime/Drama



Jean-Luc Godard's uber-hip film about two small time hoodlums and the simple-minded girl who went along with their undesirable acts of crime. Unlike the usual treatment of movies depicting robberies and criminality, Godard's style is one of carefree nonchalance. Preferring to show them talking endlessly and idling their time away. When the crime does happen, let's just say...it ain't 'Heat'. But the thing is, the movie still remained cool without all the fast paced action. Godard is a funny bird. When others fall into formation and fly south, he takes the opposite route deliberately, spreading his wings proudly and without fear of the unchartered territories. As cineasts, the discovery of Godard's genius is like an unearthing of a priceless treasure. Highly enjoyable tryst with a true master of cinema.

5 STARS!


November 17, 2011

Conviction









Director - Tony Goldwyn

Genre - Biography/Drama



Sam Rockwell plays a wrongly convicted person in a law drama which plays all its cards right. Innocent man - check. Corrupt system - check. Vindication in the end - check. When a courtroom picture takes all these into consideration and is based on a true story to boot, it's highly unlikely that it won't appeal to the general audience. We ourselves admittedly, have a strong liking for movies like 'Hurricane' where the person who is wrongly put in jail makes it out and justice is finally served. In 'Conviction', the selfless advocate of the poor bastard is his own sister (Hilary Swank) who studied law so she could become a lawyer and get her brother out for Christ sakes! That alone upped the tear-tugging factor and watchability a hundred notches.

3.5 STARS!

All about Conviction

November 8, 2011

Important Announcement!

A blog by the name of Movie Junkeee (moviejunkeee.blogspot.com) has ransacked our trove of reviews and claimed it as his own (word by word and by manipulating posting dates)! This is a gross infringement of our blog which we worked hard to maintain. To have an entire blog made up of other's toil and time is just plain rude. Should we be flattered that he chose our reviews to plagiarize and not the writings of other reviewers? No! We feel like we've been burglarized. So, we hereby would like for this blog to cease operations with immediate effect. That is the decent thing to do.

What do you think, fellow bloggers? Is this guy a deadbeat or what?

November 7, 2011

Let Me In








Director - Matt Reeves

Genre - Drama/Fantasy/Horror


After watching the original 'Let The Right One In', we were a lil' skeptical when it was announced that the story would be given an American treatment. The inclusion of Chloe Grace Moretz in the cast gave us hope though and we dived in. The verdict? We're glad to announce that this is just as good as the original. Goes to show that with the right cast and a story which begs retelling, lightning can and will actually hit twice. While the Swedish version was more of a slow burn which practically exploded sky high at the end, this one maintains an on the edge quality throughout. The brutally violent air which peeked out on occasions in the Swedish version is let out to roam freely here, with a rhythm which is faster and more pronounced. Like a Beatles song, a good story CAN be given a lil' tweak and still be just as great. But if you don't know who the Beatles are and don't get the reference, go back to listening Britney Spears and watching movies like Final Destination 10.

5 STARS!

All about Let Me In

October 26, 2011

Cold Fish





Director - Shion Sono

Genre - Drama/Thriller


Ozu and Kurosawa were pretty gung-ho about directing films about family values and how important it is to preserve those values. Shion Sono's picture here is like a rebellious reaction to that. Based on a true story, it's as if Sono is using the movie to say that although those values might be noble and righteous, the Japan that he knows now isn't living according to them. Which explains there is a rot in society and Sono has a way with showing the other side of humanity which is quite eye-opening. The characters here are shown in the harshest light and as cold as can be, which explains the title. You won't be able to sympathize with these people but watching them succumb to their fates won't be gratifying either. We get what Sono is bringing to the table. The thing is, we're not sure showing so much negativity helped the movie. The pessimism was definitely unnerving and we would've liked to have a lil' more hope in the cards.

2.5 STARS!

All about Cold Fish

October 21, 2011

Wu Xia








Director - Peter Chan

Genre - Action/Thriller


Peter Chan Ho Sun surprised us with this action thriller. Playing a detective who investigates with medically-inclined thoughts (almost like a forensic expert), Takeshi Kaneshiro plays down his looks to give the most standout performance of his career. Donnie Yen plays a simple man with a complicated past caught in the center of a murder scene and everything comes to boiling point when Takeshi uncovers a hidden secret. Wang Yu makes a comeback as a villain to beat all villains! His character is so menacing we could feel every shiver and tremble his victims experienced in his presence. All in all, this picture is different enough (the wondrously dynamic cinematography helped) and the martial arts is choreographed with just the right amount of fresh perspective to make it entertaining.

3.5 STARS!

All about Wu Xia

October 12, 2011

Martyrs








Director - Pascal Laugier

Genre - Horror/Thriller


The cinematography in this film is handled with panache and the acting by two of its leading actresses commendable. Those are the key points which made viewing it bearable in a very minimal way. If you're looking for a credible or entertaining story however, please give this a pass. Torturous and stomach-churning to watch for even the most seasoned gore flick lover, we had to endure scene of inexcusable, irresponsible violence. There are ways to show violence in a more clever, audience-friendly method as in 'The Human Centipede'. Most of you must be thinking we've gone mad depicting Tom Six's perverse virtuoso as being friendly to viewers but if put in comparison with this, it really is. So there you have it. Our take on a putrid piece of cinematic poison.

1 STAR!

All about Martyrs

September 22, 2011

Gran Torino








Director - Clint Eastwood

Genre - Drama


Clint Eastwood discards most of his tough guy image to play a grumpy geezer who lives alone with no time for socializing. Things begin to change when he takes an interest in the well-being of his next door neighbor's young son. A victim of gang members, the kid is taken under the protective wings of Eastwood's character who angers the hoodlums enough that they declare war on him. In a similar vein as Eastwood's masterstroke, 'Unforgiven', this film is an allegory on the affect of revenge on those who are embroiled in its fiery pursuit. It is as if by making these stories, Eastwood who in his heyday projected the act of violence as cool and righteous is actually making amends by showing the other side of it. And as the poster boy of 'shoot first, talk later' in a previous life, he is ironically the perfect candidate to turn the tables on being trigger happy in films as well as in real life. Give peace a chance, Eastwood seems to be saying. Now if the rest of the world complies it would really make his day.

4 STARS!

All about Gran Torino

September 10, 2011

3 Idiots










Director
- Rajkumar Hirani

Genre - Comedy/Drama/Musical

A sense of skepticism hounded us before our viewing of this, our experiences with modern Hindi movies have not been all that positive you see. We're glad to say now that if all Hindi pictures were like this, we're absolutely converted! Funny, original, tearful, dramatic...we even enjoyed the songs and dances! Aamir Khan plays an oddball genius of sorts who changes the lives of everybody around him in college. With two of his friends, they get up to all kinds of shenanigans that may look foolhardy at first but turn out to be quite ingenious and surprisingly thoughtful. The picture goes on in this vein throughout and it plays like a thinking man's 'American Pie'. The kids of THAT dumb film think of nothing but sex. Here, the thoughts are more about helping others, about friendship and taking care of your loved ones. Now, isn't that more worthwhile?

5 STARS!

All about 3 Idiots

September 3, 2011

Knife In The Water










Director - Roman Polanski

Genre - Drama


Roman Polanski's debut as a director is really attention-grabbing. Set on a yacht for most of its duration, the movie is constantly kinetic and hypnotic to watch. A well to do couple asks a young, lone traveler to go sailing with them, setting the ensuing tension-filled drama which will keep you glued to your seat. Critics have said this film contains spades of suspense but don't expect the kind which is electrifying and jolts you out of your couch. The suspense here comes rather from a social disconnection between people with differing views. A friction of personalities rubbed together too hard. Sometimes, as shown astutely by Polanski here, the result of the latter can be more unnerving and interesting. Shot like a black and white junkie's dream as well.

4 STARS!


August 19, 2011

Winter's Bone








Director - Debra Granik

Genre - Drama/Mystery/Thriller


Praised to the clouds and given considerable recognition by critics, we expected much from this indie. Unfortunately, it is not as incredible as it is made out to be. Jennifer Lawrence is certainly the best thing about this movie and will hopefully come out unscathed from playing 'Mystique' in 'X-Men: First Class'. Strong-willed, stubborn, full of spunk, her role here as a young girl who has to take care of her even younger siblings when her dad ran afoul of something terrible and lost their house as a result is what pulls you in to watch this movie. Alas, the thriller we were promised went missing in action and we were left waiting for the pay-off at the end. Obviously, the critics see more to this than us. We'd like to be enlightened as to what this could be as well.

2.5 STARS!

All about Winter's Bone

August 10, 2011

Rakht Charitra








Director - Ram Gopal Varma

Genre - Action/Biography/Crime


After 'The Godfather' trilogy introduced us to an underworld of cool and charismatic gangsters, we were left hungering for more of the same, that feeling of blind adulation for criminals which feed our need to be one of the bad boys on the wrong side of the tracks. If not in real life, we reasoned, might we not have our pie in reel life? Ram Gopal Varma's intense gangster drama has lighted, ignited and blazed the trail for our illicit love affair to begin again. And oh my...what a collection of terrifying, bloodcurdling gangsters these turned out to be! We were most impressed with Vivek Oberoi. Playing the leading role of Pratap Ravi, his devilishly suave demeanor reminds us of a young Pacino as Michael Corleone. Those certainly are big shoes to fill but we feel Vivek more than held his own. We can't wait for Part 2!

4 STARS!

All about Rakht Charitra

August 2, 2011

In A Better World








Director - Susanne Bier

Genre - Drama/Thriller


We only need to look at the younger generation today in order to gauge our future. Miles apart from the innocence of our parents and grandparents in terms of using violence to solve problems, youths today will resort to blood and weapons at the drop of a slight. Susanne Bier's film is a heart-pounding, mind-wrenching look at how our children have run away from us, from the warmth and love we seek to provide for them but continue to elude even ourselves. The characters here are not merely representations of me and you, they mirror what is happening around the world this moment. The film itself and its powerful story show us what is wrong with society today. Are we to leave our children be or find a way to end the madness? We can't afford to turn a blind eye anymore.

4.5 STARS!

All about In A Better World

July 25, 2011

A Prophet





Director - Jacques Audiard

Genre - Drama/Crime


Set in France, where prisoners are so free they can dress in whatever fashion they please, have TVs, fridge in their cells and oh...get this, they can take leave days and go out into society. This notion of a 'prison' is a culture shock to us! Does this really happen in real life? Anyway, the story is of a young Arab man who starts out kind of docile in an environment where the Middle Eastern brothers and Corsicans are deadly rivals. Soon, he is asked (well, more like forced really) by the Corsicans to join them and be their gang leader's lap dog, doing his bidding and even making him coffee. A lot of stock, stereotypical scenes involving gangsters with hard ons for indiscriminate infliction of pain ensue and our lamb soon becomes a wolf, taking his time, planning his move to get a leg up on his racist, mean as nails errant master. Overlong and tiresome to watch, we felt like we were serving a sentence in prison too alongside the characters. Although, we must add that the prison featured here looks really comfortable!

2 STARS!

All about A Prophet

July 15, 2011

Contempt








Director - Jean-Luc Godard

Genre - Drama


The title of this picture could be in reference to what Godard feels towards conventional, mass-produced cinema. It could be the feeling of Bardot's character towards her husband (Michel Piccoli) and vice versa. This is something that is meant to be experienced atmospherically and aesthetically, like a painting coming to life, talking to you. All through the film, we see Bardot in various stages of undress. Her sensuality is undeniable, exquisite. You can feel that Godard the director is obsessed with her just as Jack Palance (playing a contemptible producer) and her husband are. She is unattainable, a tease and a goddess all in one. Just like the perfection in art which all artists strive to create, we will never possess her. We feel Godard's love of women drives him to make movies and this is one of his many odes to Eve.

5 STARS!

All about Contempt

July 8, 2011

Brothers








Director - Jim Sheridan

Genre - Drama/Thriller/War


As a character study on the effects of war towards soldiers, this is quite an eye-opener. Expected to leave everything at the drop of a hat, a soldier's life is treated as belonging to the country and not his own. What we fail to acknowledge though is that they have family too. There are fathers, husbands, wives and mothers in the army. Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal play siblings who are as different as night and day. Maguire is the disciplined marine who is also a responsible father and husband. Gyllenhaal stars as the bad seed who can never do anything right and has just been released from prison. However, after a terrible mistake and setback occurred to Maguire, everything changes. Maguire carried himself like a seasoned pro here, embodying the mental hurt inflicted on him in war with such intensity it actually pained us as well to look at him. Natalie Portman who starred as his wife and Gyllenhaal provided the necessary back and forth but Maguire's role was the heart of the story.

3.5 STARS!

All about Brothers

July 1, 2011

The Town








Director - Ben Affleck

Genre - Crime/Drama/Thriller


If this is Ben Affleck's way of saying his 'Gone Baby Gone' wasn't just a fluke, he has proven his point without a doubt. What is worth mentioning here is that Affleck's skills and swagger as a director feels as if he has been doing it for as long as Clint Eastwood. And this is only Affleck's second picture! By playing the lead in this story about a gang of bank robbers who find their source of livelihood precariously compromised when their leader (Ben Affleck) makes a decision of the heart which affects everyone, Affleck has also given himself a golden opportunity to shine as an actor. While he didn't exactly make the cut here as a formidable actor, it is quite adequate given that this is a heist film, not heavy drama. Jeremy Renner is menacing as one of the robbers though and is half of the anchor alongside an always believable hall in grounding the film. We noticed Affleck has a knack for making action scenes look realistic and fresh. This is something that we appreciate very much as sometimes action scenes are shot with so much disregard for ingenuity we find it hard to watch on.

4 STARS!

All about The Town

June 25, 2011

The Exterminating Angel








Director - Luis Buñuel

Genre - Comedy/Drama/Fantasy


There is an air of sardonic humor aimed at the bourgeois throughout this film. The premise is quite peculiar but being a Luis Buñuel outing, it's really right up his alley. A party is held at a mansion with the who's who of society, the cream of the social strata. Bizarrely though, when it had gotten late and everybody was going to excuse themselves, they can't seem to leave! It's as if an unseen force is keeping them from the front door and they are trapped against their will in the place. Days and days go by. Will these well-mannered gentlemen and dainty ladies succumb to their baser instinct? An attack on high society by master surrealist Buñuel that hits the bullseye. This is a one of a kind experience in cinema not to be missed.

5 STARS!

All about The Exterminating Angel

June 18, 2011

Pinoy Sunday








Director - Ho Wi Ding

Genre - Comedy/Drama


Malaysian director Ho Wi Ding proves his mettle with this exceptional independent feature. Set in Taiwan, Ho's movie is about the lives of Filipinos working as manual labor and domestic help in the country. The story picks up and hits the road with two Filipinos who's friendship is tested by twists of unfortunate fate which seem to latch onto them with no mercy. Funny and blessed with the ability of being able to provide an insightful look into the lives of those who have to sacrifice being away from their homeland in order to earn a decent living, this is not your usual "make do with the pitiful budget and just try to make it look artsy" type of indie. It isn't easy to direct a film in a foreign land using a cast (very natural, capable acting) who speak in an entirely different tongue from yet another country. Ho Wi Ding did just that and hats off to him. Heroes of the indie movement should be celebrated and we're hoping he hears our toast of approval.

4 STARS!

All about Pinoy Sunday

June 11, 2011

Pride and Glory








Director - Gavin O'Connor

Genre - Crime/Drama/Thriller


A cop drama which pretty much went under the radar, failing to pique the interest of both critics and moviegoers. The presence of Edward Norton and Colin Farrell made it watchable but when the dust settled, what we have here is something the world of cinema has seen a thousand times before. Bad cops take money on the side, something unfortunate happens, blowing the lid off the whole shady operation and in comes good cop to save the day. Farrell got the role of a cop who cooperated with drug dealers for dirty dead presidents and Norton is the clean detective. It would've been better we feel if Norton were to play the officer on the dark side rather than Farrell. If they were to switch roles, it would've been more interesting. We love Colin Farrell but his bad boy act is getting, truthfully speaking, quite stale and repetitive.

2.5 STARS!

All about Pride and Glory

June 2, 2011

Atonement








Director - Joe Wright

Genre - Drama/Mystery/Romance


In our lives, we sometimes have certain moments that we wish we could erase. To go back and redo, to make amends and start over. Alas, there are times when our beds are made and the path we've taken is one without return. This film takes us into the live of a girl who made a really damaging mistake. Lets just say her faux pas would have made your usual ones innocent and instantly forgivable. Keira Knightley to us is the new Audrey Hepburn of this millennium and all the shots in this film are so radiantly captured that it seemed as if we were witnessing beauty itself for the very first time. As the Frenchies say, "c'est magnifique!"

5 STARS!

All about Atonement

May 23, 2011

The Tree Of Life Wins Palme d'Or


And the complete list of winners in Cannes 2011 as follows:

Palme d'Or: "The Tree of Life" (Terrence Malick, U.S.)

Grand Prix (tie): ''Once Upon a Time in Anatolia'' (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey) and ''The Kid With a Bike'' (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, France)

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn (''Drive,'' U.S.)

Jury prize: ''Polisse'' (Maiwenn, France)

Actor: Jean Dujardin ("The Artist," France)

Actress: Kirsten Dunst ("Melancholia," Denmark-Sweden-France-Germany)

Screenplay: Joseph Cedar ("Footnote," Israel)


UN CERTAIN REGARD JURY AWARDS

Main prize (tie): "Arirang" (Kim Ki-duk, South Korea) and "Stopped on Track" (Andreas Dresen, Germany)

Special jury prize: "Elena" (Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia)

Directing prize: Mohammad Rasoulof ("Goodbye,'' Iran)


OTHER MAIN JURY AWARDS

Camera d'Or: "Las acacias" (Pablo Giorgelli, Argentina-Spain)

Critics' Week Grand Prix: "Take Shelter" (Jeff Nichols, U.S.)


SHORT FILMS JURY PRIZES

Palme d'Or: "Cross" (Maryna Vroda)

Jury prize: "Swimsuit 46" (Wannes Destoop)


FIPRESCI AWARDS

Competition: "Le Havre" (Aki Kaurismaki, Finland-France)

Un Certain Regard: "The Minister" (Pierre Schoeller, France)

Directors' Fortnight: "Take Shelter" (Jeff Nichols, U.S.)


CINEFONDATION

First Prize: "Der Brief" (Doroteya Droumeva)

Second Prize: "Drari" (Kamal Lazraq)

Third Prize: "Fly by Night" (Son Tae-gyum)


ECUMENICAL PRIZE: "This Must Be the Place" (Paolo Sorrentino, Italy-France-Ireland)


PRIX VULCAIN TECHNICAL AWARDS

Winner: Jose Luis Alcaine ("The Skin I Live In," Spain)

Special mention: Joe Bini and Paul Davies ("We Need to Talk About Kevin," U.K.-U.S.)


Source: Twitchfilm

May 18, 2011

Dogville








Director - Lars von Trier

Genre - Drama/Mystery/Thriller


Von Trier directed the hell out of this movie. To call this 'stylized' would be putting it mildly. Employing the concept of a staged theater but filming as if the characters in the script were lab rats to be studied (extensive crane shots of the open, barely there set remained throughout), von Trier gave the story utmost honor. And what a story it was! Written by the incredibly gifted director himself, the words which came out of the actors' mouths were like jewels formed in the mind of a great literary giant. We couldn't believe the level of complexity and scope of depth it had. Nicole Kidman plays a woman on the run who seeks refuge in a town filled with destitution and despair. In the course of wanting the townsfolk to accept her, her character goes through a baptism of fiery oppositions which threaten to destroy her own humanity. Kidman turned in a first rate performance the likes of which if she never again acts in another film, will surely carry her name proudly in the history of cinema. It won't kill you if you don't watch this, but you would've lived a little less.

5 STARS!

All about Dogville

May 11, 2011

The Wrestler








Director - Darren Aronofsky

Genre - Drama


Darren Aronofsky is usually a rebel director who doesn't feel the need to conform to the rules of a conventional filmmaker. In 'The Wrestler' however, this recognizable imprint is untraceable. The movie on the whole didn't live up to Aronofsky's previous dalliances in taking cinema beyond the tried and tested waters. At times, we even felt that it wasn't any different from watching a bio-documentary on Hulk Hogan or Stone Cold Steve Austin. Mickey Rourke wasn't, isn't and never will be the great actor some have tagged him as. He was right on the money for the role being a washed up public figure himself but that is all there is to it. Mind you, he wasn't playing a character which required a miraculous transformation like what De Niro did to himself in 'Raging Bull' or Will Smith's solid turn in 'Ali'. To call Rourke's acting any better than being average in view of these extraordinary performances is unfair and off the mark. An unimaginative script and a safe directing style also contributed to this being Aronofsky's biggest letdown so far.

2.5 STARS!

All about The Wrestler

May 3, 2011

The Marriage of Maria Braun








Director - Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Genre - Drama


Set in post war Germany, Hanna Schygulla stars as Maria Braun, a girl who uses sex as a commodity to advance in life, working her booty all the way to the top of a company. The tragedy of Maria was that she remained unhappy even though she had achieved all that she had managed to procure. Her most endearing characteristic which is loving only one man in her life would prove to be her undoing, setting the stage for Fassbinder's often pessimistic view of love and life. But what made this film jump out for us is its sense of cynicism and its director's grasp of what makes a woman tick. The way he just gets that sometimes women are these ever-changing, forever dramatic creatures. Feminists out there will maul us for that statement but if you've ever been burnt by one you'd be inclined to agree. Fassbinder understands this explosive, unstable nature of women like no other filmmaker we've ever encountered. Whether you love or hate Maria, you can't say she is a stock, cinema stereotype. For that and a genuine air of unpredictability which ran fiercely throughout the story, Fassbinder is firmly in our good books.

4 STARS!

All about The Marriage of Maria Braun

April 23, 2011

The King's Speech








Director - Tom Hooper

Genre - Biography/Drama


Colin Firth finally finds a meaty role he can chew on and boy, did he take a big bite! He gave it his all and we feel his win at the Oscar was truly deserving. Based on the real story of King George VI who hires a speech therapist in a last ditch attempt to cure him of his speech impediment, this picture owes its success not only to Tom Hooper's understated yet controlled direction (Hooper took home Best Director) but also Firth's spectacularly regal performance. Geoffrey Rush provided solid support of course, but it is Firth whom your heart goes out to when as the king his clumsy stammers threaten to make a mockery of his reign. It is also Firth's King George that we root for when he tries to overcome what for commoners may be a trivial obstacle, but could mean the end of the monarchy for him. Faced with such an enormous undertaking, he is further tested when Britain faces imminent war. It is easy to make light of a person's stutter as it is to overlook this deceptively unassuming film. Thankfully, the Academy had fittingly bestowed upon it a Best Picture win, ensuring its rightful place on the throne.

5 STARS!

All about The King's Speech

April 14, 2011

Cannes 2011 Competition Line Up


The Skin I Live In (Spain) - Pedro Almodovar
L'Apollonide (France) - Bertrand Bonello
Footnote (Israel) - Joseph Cedar
Pater (France) - Alain Cavalier
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Turkey) - Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Hanezu no Tsuki (Japan) - Naomi Kawase
The Kid With a Bike (Belgium) - Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne
Le Havre (Finland) - Aki Kaurismäki
Sleeping Beauty (Australia) - Julie Leigh
Tree of Life (US) - Terrence Malick
Polisse (France) - Maïwen
The Source (Romania) - Radu Mihaileanu
We Have a Pope (Italy) - Nanni Moretti
Ishimei (Hari-Kiri: Death of a Samurai) (Japan) - Takashi Miike
Michael (Austria) - Markus Schleinzer
We Need to Talk About Kevin (UK) - Lynne Ramsey
Melancholia (Denmark) - Lars von Trier
This Must Be the Place (Italy) - Paolo Sorrentino
Drive (US) - Nicolas Winding Refn

Source: Twitch Film

April 9, 2011

Beware of a Holy Whore








Director - Reiner Werner Fassbinder

Genre - Comedy/Drama


Totally uncommercial and filmed like a parody or put-down of people who make movies, this Fassbinder picture is quite unpalatable for those not into cinema. We don't claim to possess great knowledge in cinema mind you, but for us this is quite an interesting, behind the scenes look at a set of pretentious filmmakers self-imploding, as it were. Everyone here seems to be suffering for art, wearing their hearts on their sleeves and spouting inanity throughout. They're also always posing and posturing, as if they're acting for two sets of cameras. One for the story, and one which is filming the story within the story. We can't even begin to describe why we would like something like this. Suffice to say, this is something that begs to be felt, not analyzed over. It speaks to the dark humor in us, the fun of discovering what asses these pompous actors are. Fassbinder literally puts all of them in the worst light possible. Ha!

3 STARS!

All about Beware of a Holy Whore

April 1, 2011

Wings of Desire








Director - Wim Wenders

Genre - Fantasy/Drama/Romance


Angels could have lent their hands in the making of this film as it is absolutely heaven-sent. A work of art to be savored for years and years to come. Wim Wenders the German auteur directed this so lovingly, so full of care that it shows in every reel, its impact on the landscape of cinema permanently etched in black and white. As the picture opens, we are offered an intrusive, voyeuristic look into the lives of random city folks going about their daily routines, all through the lens of the gently sweeping camera. This then reveals itself to be the eyes of two angels who are studying the mortals, absorbing whatever knowledge they can gather from constant observation. The angels are feeling listless as they want to participate fully in the actual task of being humans. They want to eat, play, make love, experience pain, happiness and dejection just as we do. And just like that, the story takes flight. You can say our undying love for cinema is cultivated and sustained on motion pictures like 'Wings of Desire'. It represents all the possibilities of cinema, going way and beyond being merely for entertainment. This is a soul-stirring, life-affirming experience.

5 STARS!

All about Wings of Desire

March 23, 2011

The Fighter








Director - David O. Russell

Genre - Biography/Drama


Directed by David O. Russell this is a movie about professional boxer Micky Ward who rose from nothing to become the toast of his small town Lowell. Feeling pulled down by his own family, in particular his manipulating mother and drug addict brother Dicky, not so young Micky has to choose fast in order to have a shot at glory. Playing Dicky, an almost unrecognizable Christian Bale completely hijacked the picture. With a script written in such a way that 'The Fighter' in the title refers as much to Dicky as it does Micky, Bale made sure he wasn't playing second fiddle by giving the performance of a lifetime. Dicky fights to redeem himself from the ashes of past failures and addiction. Micky fights to prove himself worthy. There are two stories running simultaneously here. We have never seen a film until this in which the supporting actor (Bale won an Oscar in this category) outshined the lead so thoroughly. It works however and Wahlberg being outpunched in the acting ring by Bale doesn't mar the outcome at all. In fact, it is curiously enriched because Dicky is the more interesting brother. The one we paid to see. Christian Bale's dedication to his craft is well known. Now it's unquestionable.

4.5 STARS!

All about The Fighter

March 17, 2011

127 Hours








Director - Danny Boyle

Genre - Adventure/Drama/Thriller


Danny Boyle is a director who likes to challenge himself with different genres and situations and we have tremendous respect for him based on that. Every one of his films have not been similarly threaded. James Franco is Aron Ralston in this picture based on a real, unfortunate incident involving Ralston. A mountain climber/free spirit, Ralston is the kind of happy go lucky daredevil you wish you were but were too afraid to be. Then one day, Ralston makes a wrong move and you wish you never, ever end up like him. On one of his adventures, Ralston is literally caught between a rock and a hard place. Stuck and with not nearly enough provisions to sustain his life, he has to summon all his strength and will to live. Battling with nature's a bitch and he is trapped in a place far from civilization. Boyle's direction of a movie consisting predominantly of only one man talking to himself is as invigorating as one with a cast of thousands. James Franco will go a long way in this business judging by his fearless acting here. A story which imparts on us the need to cherish being alive.

4 STARS!

All about 127 Hours

March 9, 2011

Lakeview Terrace








Director - Neil LaBute

Genre - Crime/Drama/Thriller


Newlyweds Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington buy a new house next to a neighbor from hell acted by Samuel L. Jackson. The role of an over the hill cop with deep rooted resentment for most of the world is played with relish by Jackson. Frankly speaking, it is the only reason to watch this film. There aren't that many actors who can embody such a character so convincingly without going into over the top mode. If the role was given to Nic Cage or Travolta it would have been a run of the mill Hollywood vehicle. Jackson managed to stay afloat the material here, overshadowing everybody else in the process and certainly, this will be a character we'll remember him for in years to come.

3 STARS!

All about Lakeview Terrace

March 2, 2011

Veronika Voss








Director - Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Genre - Drama


Shot sumptuously in black and white, this story of a movie actress who clings on to a hopeless longing to be as famous as she once was has some similarity with 'Sunset Boulevard'. Familiar theme and plot aside, we still enjoyed ourselves because of its lovely cinematography and the feeling that this was more grounded than 'Sunset Boulevard'. It wasn't as theatrical and satirical as Billy Wilder's picture. It was an invitation to witness the heartbreaking downfall of a once glowing and on top of the world star. We took the bite, stayed with her till the end and that was it. Like Veronika, we had accepted her fate. This is life, Fassbinder seemed to say. Leave the sugar-coating for fairy tales.

4 STARS!

All about Veronika Voss

February 22, 2011

The Man Who Fell To Earth








Director - Nicolas Roeg

Genre - Sci-Fi/Drama


This has all the hallmarks of a bad movie. An irreverent script and wooden acting by its cast especially one by the name of David Bowie (screen debut) should have hurt this film to its core. Remarkably, it still presents an interesting watch because of good editing, unique cinematography and lastly, Bowie despite his inability to act. Playing an alien who assumes the role of a big conglomerate titan, he is visually suitable mainly because of his own physical oddity. Making out of this world music, gaunt and gazelle-like with his left eye a different color from his right one, Bowie in real life is already like an alien. The ultimate clincher for us though is the off the cuff cinematography, turning this 'should be bad film' into a work of unrestrained artistic release outside the usual realm of what counts as a good picture.

3.5 STARS!

All about The Man Who Fell To Earth

February 14, 2011

Public Enemies








Director - Michael Mann

Genre - Biography/Crime/Drama


Michael Mann has a knack for making violent features with really dramatic possibilities. The opening of this film lunges straight for the jugular as we are introduced to John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), a dashing and reckless bank robber who is in the middle of a daring jailbreak. From that explosive start, we are let generously into the lives of Dillinger and his crew, with the former being the main focus. When Christian Bale enters the frame, it is in the guise of a determined lawman who is gunning for Dillinger's arrest as a career advancement. With Depp and Bale locking horns, apt attention is guaranteed. Depp is perfect for the role of a notorious 'folk hero' type bandit. We've never really like Depp's roles except for 'Donnie Brasco'. He usually lets his characters have too many 'ornaments' which kill the believability factor. This time we have to say we can't imagine anyone else acting the part.

3.5 STARS!

All about Public Enemies

February 7, 2011

3-4 x Jûgatsu








Director - Takeshi Kitano

Genre - Action/Comedy/Crime


Kitano's movies never really did it for us. He tends to direct pictures which are excruciatingly slow and the characters are always annoyingly uncommunicative. This one however, surprisingly, we liked. Written by Kitano himself, the script is about a petrol station attendant who pissed off some Yakuza gang members. Life for him takes a dip in the lower rungs of hell as the Yakuzas won't leave him alone. Kitano's sentiment and take on Japan's underworld here mostly comes off as being filled with disdain. They are shown in a very bad light with most of them being bungling fools or just plain dumb. It is also the funniest Kitano film we've ever witnessed, with Kitano himself providing most of the laughs by being an eccentric, possibly gay gangster. This is the opposite end of 'Godfather' and 'Goodfellas'. It is the other side of gangsta cool. And we totally dug it.

4 STARS!

All about 3-4 x Jûgatsu

January 27, 2011

Vivre sa vie








Director - Jean-Luc Godard

Genre - Drama


Starring Anna Karina, who was married to Godard at that time, this is a moving, real as nails picture about a girl slowly falling into the inescapable grasp of vice's long claws. Our attentions were unshaken as Godard let his love and muse command the screen with her graceful beauty. It was almost unbearably discomfiting when we see Nana (Anna Karina) gets more and more desperate, her soul replaced by nothingness. A life snuffed out little by little at the mercy of society's indifference. Godard's direction is masterful without being overbearing, stamping his mark all over the reels without surrendering the story. More than any other pictures about the plight of hookers, this Godard masterpiece is the most haunting, most unrelenting in its pursuit of telling it as it is.

5 STARS!

All about Vivre sa vie