Friday, August 31, 2012

Wrapping it Up: August

For Multiple reasons, this month has been an extra-ordinary month. I did a lot of things that I probably have never done in my life before but always meant to. Let me try and list down why?

1. This is definitely the most most prolific month I have had and by far. I don't think I have ever watched for than 30 movie in a month and this time I went over 35. Off course, main reason behind it is half of them are hardly an hour long and half of remaining are in the range of 70-80 minutes. But, even then it is a LOT.

2. 7 pre-1930 Silent movies. I have seen few Laurel-Hardy movies that I do not remember the names of. If we discount them, till the start of this month there was only 1 movie that would fit in this criterion - The Gold Rush(1925). This probably was the most learning experience of my life and I have Tyler to thank for that.

3. Even if I discount all just about hour long documentaries, all of them courtesy of whole 30 for 30 being available on Netflix, and count only feature-length ones, I saw 8 documentaries. Again, not a really big number but what makes it great is a fact that I doubt if I have seen 8 documentaries in my life before. Let alone in a month.

4. 4 Hindi movies in a month. Well, this definitely isn't the first time I am doing this but it surely is after a long time that I have seen 4 in a month. At least 3 years.

So, Here is what I did see this month.


Escape From Alcatraz(1979): I haven't done my research here but it looks like The Shawshank Redemption(1994) might have taken some inspiration from this and maybe not as much as Shawshank, this does succeed to a lot of extent. But, even for a movie that takes place inside a prison and most important plot development happens mainly during the night, it was so dark I had to take special effort to understand what's happening here. However, my main problem is for a maximum security prison, I felt like they got out rather easily. 

Hoop Dreams(1994): I had heard a lot about this movie before. So, I kinda had enough anticipations from it. But, unfortunately I didn't really feel much for it. It also felt like too long, even more because I wasn't much into it. I have to give him credit for covering a lot of important points in their life during those years but there were points where I lost my interest in either of the story. 

No Crossover: Trial of Allen Iverson(2010): From the same movie-maker who did Hoop Dreams, another documentary about basketball players. Concentrating on Iverson and how his trial affected everyone in the area of Hampton, this works much better because it goes into every aspect of that incident and from every possible source. Being only 82 minutes also helped, I guess. 

June 17th, 1994(2010): After watching couple of documentaries from ESPN's 30 For 30 series, I have been meaning to watch others for quite some time now. Unfortunately, I couldn't find those I was most interested in anywhere. So the fact that Netflix just released all this episodes on Instant watch is a very good sign for me. 

Without Bias(2009): Being a Celtics fan myself, I have heard a lot about how different Celtics would have been during 90s had Len Bias joined mighty 1986 Celtics, considered as one of the best teams in sports. However, this focused on repercussions of his death from a lot of different angels and as a movie, I am glad that they did that. 

Rashomon(1950)(Re-watch) : Not only it is my favorite Kurosawa but also one of my all-time favorites. After doing this post on Notorious(1946), I decided to continue writing about some of my favorite movies. This post is second in hopefully many more to come. 

Four Days in October(2010): Even though I have been an avid sports fan(I follow like 6 different sports over the year), I am not into Baseball at all. However being in heart of Red Sox nation for over two years, I wasn't impervious to Red Sox and Curse of Babe Ruth. This Story of how they beat Yankees in ALCS from down 3-0 scored purely on adrenaline rush it gave me, despite the lack of any knowledge of the game.

Bullitt(1968): Again it's Steve McQueen doing his thing and doing it well but I saw this for San Francisco and this post and it has plenty of both, Steve McQueen and San Francisco. That one chase in the middle through streets of San Francisco is like these streets are just made for it. However, Robert Vaughn's Chalmers was just as good and Jacqueline Bisset's British accent too.

Unmatched(2010): Like Cricket, I don't even remember when did I start following Tennis. Even as a kid, I remember watching Pate Sampras dominating Wimbledon's, all the antics of Andre Agassi, Steffi Graph and Monica Seles screaming at each other. So, this whole story of lifelong friendship between two of the greats - Martina Navaratilova and Chris Evert - wasn't new to me. But it felt good to kind of refresh my memory.

The Real Rocky(2011)Story of Chuck Wepner who became famous for two reasons - one, for apparently no reason at all, Mohammad Ali chose him to defend his heavyweight title against and two, Sylvester Stallone attended that game and it gave him the idea of making Rocky(1976) based on that. We will probably never know who really used who but this is the story of his life and his court case against Stallone for copyright issues. 

Sunrise: Song of Two Humans(1927): As I said above if you can discount all the Chaplin's and Laurel-Hardy's I saw as a kid, this might well be my first silent movie. It is innocent, it was pure, it was like one of those bed-time stories and to tell you the truth, knowing that it's from 1927, 'And they leaved happily ever after' was all I expecting and I got exactly that ans SO MUCH more. 

Mohammad and Larry(2010): I have no idea why but despite being part of 30 for 30 which aired in 2009-10, it is listed as an 1980 documentary. Though I am no expert, this must be the most humiliating fight in Mohammad Ali's career. It was nice to see him being Ali though, going into the fight against everyone's advice or wish, just because he can and he wanted to. 

Mother India(1957)(Hindi): I seriously do not remember the last time I saw an old Hindi movie, must have been years and I am glad I did for this post. For some reason, I had an impression of this being much more cry fest and melodramatic than it is. However, after watching it I might even consider it to be one of my favorites. 

The 16th Man(2010): Documentary version of Invictus(2009) about South African Rugby team's victory in world Cup of 1995 and the role Nelson Mandela played in it to inspire them and going forward to use this event to unite their country together. It's actually incredibly moving and very well done. Morgan Freeman as narrator also helps. 

Upkar(1967)(Hindi): I specifically chose this movie for this post here so that I will have a reason to see it. I have been procrastinating it for a long time and as it turns out for a good reason. This movie looks like it was made as a reason to promote government policies and I have to praise it for such an attempt but unfortunately, there is not much to recommend beyond that here. 

Once Brothers(2010): When I saw whole 30 For 30 on Netflix, this was one documentary that I have been waiting to see and I am really happy that without any doubt, this is THE Best of all 30 For 30 documentaries I have seen and I have seen almost a dozen of them by now. This is story of Vlade Divac, Drazen Petrovic and their World Champion Yugoslavian Basketball Team and how their friendship suffered due to the civil war in their country which put these two friends in enemy camps. 

Nosferatu(1922): I am sure that I can find 100 flaws in this movie but I can not overlook the fact that it was released in 1927 and considering this fact, this movie is just Great !! On top of that, though I wasn't really scared(I very rarely get scared in movies), I had goosebumps on multiple occasions and that is much more than what I can say about whole lot of modern so-called scary movies. And BTW, this is the oldest movie I have seen. Ever. 

Battleship Potemkin(1925): Whatever I said above. When I first read the short description of it on Netflix, I was more intrigued as to how will Eisenstein make a silent movie on this subject and as I suspected, this one felt much more like a documentary than movie and though most of the scenes were way longer than they should have been, still 1925. So, I am not complaining. 

Invasion of Body Snatchers(1978): When it comes to scary movies, I am starting to think that there is something genetically wrong in me. Whenever natural reaction is to be scared, I am either bored or disgusted. Now this movie is not a bad movie at all. It is well made, I even think it is a decent enough idea but all the time, I was staring at screen like someone made me sit there and watch it as a punishment. 

Marion Jones: Press Pause(2010): One good thing about it is I had no idea what Mario Jones was up to after he submitted all her medals. Now, I do. But bad thing is I still have no idea what the director was aiming for here. I don't know. To me, it looked like he did it for the sake of it, with no real aim or direction which is sad because at least from this documentary, it feels like Jones deserves more.

Man on Wire(2008): So after so many 30 for 30 episodes, I finally got to a real documentary for a little change and an Oscar winning, no less. Incredible story of Phillipe Petit's daring routine of tightrope walking between Twin Towers of WTC in 1974. I swear if someone told me something like this happened, I would have called him a liar and yet here I am watching this. And Phillipe even looked sane, I mean kinda.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams(2010): Chauvet caves in southern France holds some of the oldest known pictorial representation of any kind to human. Given their importance culturally as well as anthropologically, these caves are sealed to preserve their natural beauty but Werner Herzog somehow got nod to document them and show them to the world. It is really fascinating to see those painting were made 32000 years ago given how fresh they look and how detailed they are.

The General(1926): My first ever Bustor Keaton and it was pure bliss. I loved that it had a proper format, it has a story, starting and end. There are lot of small things that work well and he had me laughing out loud on multiple occasions but what's even better is they are really effective to bring the whole film together. His timing was superb throughout and soundtrack was amazing. 

Sherlock Jr.(1924): This second venture with Bustor Keaton actually didn't work as well as The General basically because plot felt too weak, too much coincidental. Even The General had quite a few coincidental moments to evoke laughter but the point is they didn't seem to be forced. Keaton is usually compared with Chaplin and I know he had his hits and misses as well. For me, this was a miss. 

Fire In Babylon(2010): For over a year, since I heard about this documentary, I have been meaning to see it. I never saw any of them play but I know about dominance of West Indian cricket for almost two decades. Likes of Greenidge, Haynes, Lloyd, Richards and their bowlers Garner, Andy Roberts, Holding and Croft were great individually but put together and they became just invincible and remained unbeaten for 15 years. 15 Years ! 

Good Night, and Good Luck(2005)(Re-watch): Sometimes people surprise me with their reactions about some movies. Good Night, and Good Luck is one such example when one of my friends called it 'weird'. I know that people can have very different opinion about certain movie but weird is not the word I will ever associate with this movie and hence here I am, defending it. 

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance(2002): I still don't know if there is a hero or villain or at least anti hero, someone we are suppose to root for, in this movie. It looked like it shifted it's focus somewhere in the middle and ended up on neither of the ends. Also, maybe it is my fault but after a while, I got tired of not knowing what is going on screen all the time. We usually understand it few scenes after but it got under my skin. 

The U(2009): Story of Rise and fall of University of Miami Football team over 80s and 90s. They became prominent players on national scale in early 80s from nowhere to win their first National Championship in 1983 and won 3 more championships in next 10 years. However, since then it was going down. It is no doubt that they were really good but to tell you the truth, with their attitude like that I just did not care where they land.

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance(2005): For multiple reasons, I think this is the best of Park's vengeance trilogy. For once, I think Oldboy(2003) is one crazy movie and you can even say that it's a better film but I don't have much more to say on it and you know my opinion on Mr. Vengeance above. It is a pretty straight forward revenge story in comparison to other two but Lady Vengeance has a much better format to it. 

Bombay to Goa(1972)(Rewatch)(Hindi): There are so many reasons not to like this movie. It is actually stupid, bit too slap-sticky, hasn't aged well and too amateur technically. But, by God, give me this over so many other so called comedy movies and there are only 2 reasons - 1. Mehmood 2. Array of side characters. 

Shanghai(2012)(Hindi): I have a little problem with first 10 minutes and last 5 minutes of it. Otherwise, I think it is great movie or at least movie with great ambition. Central cast of Abhay Deol, Kalki and Emraan Hashmi works really well. It takes some time to get into the groove and some of the characters didn't really work for me. Also, I don't really like the ending but altogether I am glad the Hindi Industry is making such movies. 

The Phantom of the Opera(1925): Again it amazes me that such a film was made in 1925. What interests me the most is Phantom and its Make-up. It is hideous and I believe it is exactly what it meant to be. I have not read this book but I am reading 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' right now and ever since this movie, it has helped me imagine the titular character more vividly. I am not really sure if that is a good thing or bad. 

The Dictator(2012): When I saw its first trailer, I will tell you that I really laughed. Second trailer made me doubt my stand and hence I didn't actively seek it out. But when I did see it I was mildly amused. It sure is the most extremely offensive, racist, sexist and filled with Sasha Baron Cohen's ridiculous and disturbing sense of humour. But there were few moments that saved it from being 'worst movie ever'.  

Little Children(2006): I have been meaning to see this and I am glad that I caught in very last day of being on On-Demand. For almost whole time, it reminded me of Babel(2006) in a sense that there is nothing really good that happens in any character's life. They both have some good performances in them but I don't think I want to watch something like that on screen. At least, most characters come to their senses in the end here.

The Thin Blue Line(1988): The best or worst thing about this documentary is not how atrocious and narrow-minded approach Police had towards Randall Adams and had an innocent man convicted of crime he did not commit, but in my opinion it is a fact that Errol Morris did this documentary while Adams was still serving the sentence for this and got him acquitted because of the evidence he uncovered in it. He is a real hero to me.

The Darjeeling Limited(2007): My First Wes Anderson movie and you know what my very first thought after watching it was? Wes Anderson should make Hindi movies. There were so many things here that didn't make a lot of sense to me but it rides on its emotional quotient and I was having fun watching it. So I didn't mind either - That's like 80-90% of Hindi movies for you. I was also happy with the India we see in it.

Metropolis(1927): This is the 7th silent movie I have seen this month and I probably could not have chosen better way to end this epic month because this movie is Epicness personified. It is so grand on every single scale that considering it was made in 1927, it is as hard as building pyramids. If I made list of 10 movies for sight and sound poll, I will definitely include this movie in it. More on that in my next post.

Total Count:37. 34 First Time Watches and 3 Re-watches.

2012 YTD Count

Total Count: 219. 206 First Time Watches and 13 Re-watches.

Phew! That was a great month. I usually do the split of modern-classics and English or Foreign movies. But I don't really see the point here. At the start of this month, I didn't have anything planned for this month. But I am actually glad that I did go all out on Documentaries and silent movies because I had too many queued up and I had to do something like this to get started with them. Off course, everything else suffered. I only finished season 5 of The Sopranos and those last few episodes of Twin Peaks I was so excited for? still haven't seen them.

So, how was your month ? Did you see anything interesting ? What do you think of the movies I saw ? Any favorites ?


  1. I really like Little Children, wonderful performances all around but yeah, it's an unpleasant movie. Liked The Dictator too, pretty funny film. I saw American Reunion last week and for me that was the funniest comedy, laughed out loud many times. The Sopranos season 5 is great, season 6 is a bit worse than that.

    1. Unpleasant - thats right about Little Children. Even I laughed a lot watching Dictator but you know, most of them were morally incorrect jokes. And I loved 5th season, especially Tony's dream. Let us see what season 6 has in store.

      Thanks Sati !

  2. Great list of films. I love Hoop Dreams, but that could be because I'm a basketball fan. Metropolis would also make my Sight and Sound list. I'm guessing you saw the 153 minute version? When I first saw the film, I watched a 90 minute version, and I wasn't that impressed. It was only after I saw the epic version that I fell in love with it. Totally agree with it personifying "Epicness".

    1. Thanks Josh !

      I love Basket ball too but still Hoop Dreams didn't really hold my attention and part of it also is because I am always confused by structure of College games, any of them.
      Yes, I saw restored version of Metropolis. It really is a Great movie.

  3. A lot of films here...

    Funny; I also saw Nosferatu and The Darjeeling Limited for the first time this month. The first one I found rather boring except I liked the vampire itself, and the later I absolutely loved. Wes Anderson is such a great director - and I had the same thought as you, because some of his films actually resemble Hindi films.

    Rashomon - One of my favourite films too, I'm very fascinated by it.

    Sunrise - My favourite silent film by far. Just something special.

    Mother India - You know my thoughts on it; too patriotic and melodramatic, but still a must-watch for Hindi film fans.

    Shanghai - One of my most anticipated Hindi films this year, especially because of the cast.

    Little Children - Surprisingly I liked it. But it's very very... well, unpleasant as Sati said.

    1. I know right. Darjeeling was my first Wes Anderson. I saw Moonrise this weekend. I like it but I guess You like it more than I do. I am thinking of going through the whole Wes Anderson filmography this month. Let us see.

      I love Rashomon. No doubt. Sunrise would also be one of my favorite silents as well, it was so pristine. You also know what I think of Mother India too right :) I saw Shanghai for exact same reason - Cast and they deliver. So, try and watch it, I don't think it will disappoint you. And Little Children I won't say I loved it but I don't have any real problem as well.

      Thanks Mette !

  4. You are making very good progress through the year matey!!

    1. Tell me about it Scott ! It has been a phenomenal year so far. Looks like I will be able to cross 300. :)

      Thanks for stopping by !

  5. A busy month of viewing!

    After you've seen The Shawshank Redemption(1994), unfortunately most prison dramas pale by comparison. Although Papillon (1973) is powerful with Steve McQueen & Dustin Hoffman, and so are Cool Hand Luke, In the Name of the Father, & Dead Man Walking. All great in my opinion.

    If you like car chases in San Francisco, check out the one from What’s Up Doc? (1972)-a lot of fun ( :

    Nosferatu (1922), there are some strange rumours about the making, which lead to the movie Shadow of the Vampire (2000)- Not the greatest film ever, worth a look for Dafoe's performance!

    Man on Wire, you should check Phillipe Petit's oscar win speech, so cool

    The General(1926) is on my youtube watchlist, I'm going to watch it soon since you say it's laugh-out-loud :)

    1. To tell you the truth I am not the biggest fan of Shawshank but what you say might just be true. All the films you mentioned are on my list except Papilon and I loved that book. So, now it's going in it too. One more that is usually thrown in is Bresson's A Man Escaped. Any thoughts on it ?

      While making that list, What's Up Doc was on my radar but something happened and it fell off. I will give it a go now.

      I read about them afterwards. It's interesting.

      I don't know how much Keaton you have seen but I loved The General for sure. Let me know what you think of it.

      Thanks for the comment Chris !

    2. @SDG: I'm no expert on Bresson, A Man Escaped is ok watch, quite realistic atmosphere, the title however seems ridiculous. A blogger told me the fun is in finding out HOW they are going to escape :) I'd rank it just below those other prison dramas.

  6. Crazy month for you- 35 movies? 7 silent ones and documentaries? good job, you should be proud!
    I really want to see Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Metropolis!
    My August was boring and uneventful, but September started wonderfully :)

    1. It certainly was. Biggest month EVER. Metropolis is a wonder. Everyone should see it. Really. Thanks for stopping by Diana.

      You finished your dissertation, didn't you ? That counts for much more than anything else right ?

  7. Wow, that is an AWESOME month! Love the mix of documentaries and silent films, two areas I have been trying to explore as well. Those 30 for 30 docs are a lot of fun, and Once Brothers is probably my favorite, too. Bummer you didn't enjoy Hoop Dreams as much, though. That blew me away when I saw it for the first time last year.

    1. It certainly was. I actually saw Once Brothers immediately after you wrote about it. Just goes to suggest, we DO have similar tastes. :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...