Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wrapping It Up: February

I really wanted to start this with New Year actually. But, my education came in my way at the end of last month. So, from this month, I am going to start making this monthly wrap up post as well. I have seen many fellow bloggers do this and I think keeping this track of movies might be a good idea, now that I am getting much more serious about this blog.

Even though I didn’t document last month, I calculated the movies I saw last month(I have a habit of going on IMDb and rating it right after I see a movie. So, it helped) and I am going to mention that here so that I can keep track for year 2012. So, 

JANUARY: Total Count: 22. All First Time Watches.

And as for this month,
Brokeback Mountain(2005): I finally saw it after procrastinating it for many years. Heath Ledger was so much better than Jack Gyllenhaal.

Dr.Strangelove(1964): Highest ranked movie in IMDb 250 I haven’t seen. Now that honor goes to City Lights(1931). I am not a traditional Kubrick Fan but this one just had a perfect mixture of sincerity and satire for my taste. Brilliant Movie !!

We need to talk about Kevin(2011): CS@Big Thoughts from a Small Mind said ‘Somewhere Mia Farrow's Rosemary is saying 'damn that kid is evil!'’ on twitter. That might be the perfect way to describe this and Tilda Swinton was amazing.

Any Given Sunday(1999)(Rewatch): Because it was Super Bowl Sunday and everyone on Twitter made me watch it. It still rocked though.

Alphaville(1965): My first experiment of going blind into the movie. I had no idea what this movie was, I just saw Name: Jean-Luc Godard and gave it a watch. For first 40 minutes or so, I had no idea what was going on? I didn’t know if it is a futuristic world or we are in a parallel universe? I didn’t understand where are all the characters coming from and where are they going? It was just strange and weird. But, I kept watching and my patience paid off. Not that it is not strange, but at least now I understand it much better.

The Thomas Crown Affair(1968): How amazing was Faye Dunaway? Anyone knows a worthy movie she did after Network(1976) though? Whatever happened to her? And yes, my first Stevee McQueen as well.

The Game(1997): Probably Fincher’s most underrated movie. It is no lesser of a gem though. And except Vertigo(1958), I haven't seen a movie which uses San Fransisco architecture better.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead(1990): Story of Hamlet from point of view of two minor characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with Gary Oldman and Tim Roth and it is hilarious. My review here. 

Agneepath(1990)(Hindi)(Rewatch): It has aged quite a lot and is ridiculously loud. But, it never was about anything other than Amitabh Bachchan and it still isn’t.

No Man’s Land(2001): Up until today, I knew it as the movie that beat Lagaan(2001), last Indian movie to be nominated in the Oscars. At least it lost to the worthy adversary. 

Jackie Brown(1997): 40-45 minutes into the movie and I stopped counting how many times she crossed the sides. Double-cross, triple-cross it just kept coming. Though it does not look like a typical Tarantino movie, it did have many trademarks of QT.

The Host(2006): I know many people who are crazy about this but in my opinion this is an absolutely shoddy, completely over the top piece of work. However,  whoever made that monster did a stunning job of making it disgustingly real and that little girl does a good job. 

Trollhunter(2011): Best found footage movie I have seen though it was a little too well directed and edited. But it didn't matter because I was practically jumping in my seat when they show trolls on screen.

The Escapist(2008): I heard few mentions of it on FrontRoomCinema and it was on Netflix. So, I decided to give it a watch. It is nowhere near The Shawshank Redemption(1994) but still a decent prison break movie especially for the ending.

Moulin Rouge!(2000): By the end of 'Diamonds are Girl's Best Friend', I was absolutely convinced that Baz Luhrmann has a bright future in Indian Industry if he decides to. It is over the top, giddy, love-it-or-leave-it spectacle and I happen to love it.

The Hustler(1961): Paul Newman is at his best here but more than that I will recommend this for George C. Scott and his Burt Gordon. He did Anatomy of A Murder(1958), The Hustler(1961) and Dr. Strangelove(1964) within first 5 movies of his career. Quite a Start !!

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner(1967): Spencer Tracy's monologue in the end is one of the best monologues I have seen. He pretty much sums up the whole movie in 5 minutes. So, next time you are in a hurry to finish it, go to the end and see his monologue. You will know all you need to know from the movie. And it was also nice to see Katharine Hepburn in the caring, motherly role. 

Paranormal Activities(2007): I hadn't seen any of them yet. So, it was almost time for it. Even though not the best of found footage flicks, I actually think this one was quite OK but the again I am almost sure that 2, 3, 4 and many more they might be planning will not work for the obvious reasons. 

The Passion of Anna(1969): Having failed so many times before, feeling of finally understanding a Bergman film on the first watch, almost makes me feel accomplished. With So many similarities in plot, characters, actors and locations, it almost feels like a twin-movie of Hour of the Wolf(1968). What made this work for me was with the use of ingenious method to introduce the characters, frequent use of long takes and close-ups and handheld like camerawork, it gives you a feel that you are experiencing all this in first person, being there physically.

Delhi Belly(2011)(Hindi): It is rather controversial for an Indian movie in many ways but you have a combination of comedy, romance, action and even though it does get a little over the top in some places but I was having too much fun to care even though I did not get why they were talking so much in English.

Take Shelter(2011): Another apocalyptic tale in 2011 but it is extremely well acted by Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain and well directed too. See my complete review here.

Anastasia(1956): I honestly don't remember why this movie was in my watch list - hopefully because of Ingrid Bergman because I really don't think I knew anyone else in whole cast. Bergman won Oscar for this - her second and its hard to argue with it. She is simply Brilliant as a titular charactor. But that is pretty much it. Perfect for my Average Movies with Great Female Leads Post.
Coffee and Cigarettes(2003): It is quite strange concept to present series of small, comic vignettes to present as a movie. Moreover, this segments don't have to much with each other except they happen at the table over Coffee and Cigarettes. Some segments are great(Cousins?, No Problem?, Renee) while some are plain weird(Those things will kill ya, Stranger to meet ya). Overall, it did not impress me much. 

Manhattan Murder Mystery(1993): I am not a big fan of Woody when it comes to acting. He is a great director but I have my reservations against his acting. But Manhattan Murder Mystery still worked pretty well for me probably because you would expect someone to behave like he usually does in situation like this and off course mystery of murder was quite interesting.

About Schmidt(2002): My only second Alexander Payne movie after The Descendants(2011) last year and yet again it has Mr. Payne all over it. This man can do no wrong. It was also nice to see Jack Nicholson not being usual Jack Nicholson and if you haven't seen his acceptance speech in Globes for this performance, go and see it.

The Pixar Story(2007): I am not a big fan of animation but Pixar has come up with some of my favorite animations - Monsters Inc.(2001), Wall-E(2009) and Toy Story Franchise. If you have any interest in behind the camera works of an animated movie, this is a worthy doc on Life Story of Pixar. 

War and Peace(1956): Ahhh, the things I would do for Audrey Hepburn !! Like suffer through this never ending, monotonous piece of melodrama. It took me almost whole day to get through 208 minutes of this movie. Its all your fault Tolstoy !!

Elizabeth(1998): Directed by an Indian director Shekhar Kapur, story of Queen Elizabeh's early years of reign is a movie which told me that The Queen has nothing else to do but to decide whom to marry. It is very well shot movie though.

The Italian Job(1969): First of all, except for the fact that it is a heist movie, it has nothing in common with a new one and I was expecting an action movie and I got comedy. If you can get on that wagon, you might enjoy it. They lost me at the end.

Let Me In(2010): I saw Let the Right one In(2007) around a year ago and till today it is an only vampire movie I can withstand. This adaptation is not bad at all, but my problem is this is pretty much same as original one. And if I have to pick one of the two I will pick original, especially for her killing scenes. 

Topsy-Turvy(1999): I have no idea how did it end in my queue but somehow it did and I saw it. I don't know if it was my cold and fever which kept my attention span at minimum but It was too long, too monotonous and too unfunny. First time I laughed in it was around 70 minutes in it

Mansfield Park(1999): Problem with most of Jane Austen's work is if you are watching it for the first time, you will probably end up loving any of her piece. But when you go on to her other works, then they start to get repetitive. After reading most of her work(all except this and Northanger Abbey) and watching some of its adaptations, though perfectly pleasant and amiable, I did not find anything new in here. 

Following(1998): Christopher Nolan's first and his only movie I had not seen before I wrote about him in Profile of a Director series. Even though he does not have his now usual regulars, his personal traits are intact here - jumbled narrative, culminating ending and near perfect feeling his movie leaves you with. Christopher Nolan at his best.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lassmore(2011): Castor@Anamolous Material and Andina@Inspired Ground recently put this Oscar winning Animated Short Silent movie on their website. I haven't seen many shorts, definitely none animated. So, this was a nice experience. It is really short and sweet and full of symbolism. 

To Sir, with Love(1967): Sidney Poitier trying to teach a group of rowdy students how to be responsible adults. There are many movies I am sure on the similar storyline, but this one had strong affinity to one of the Indian Regional movies in my mother tongue Marathi called 10th F which I love a lot. This one is almost as good.

Total Count:34. 32 First Time Watches and 2 Re-watches.

In 2012
Total Count:56. 54 First Time Watches and 2 Re-watches.

I know that as compared to many other fellow bloggers, the number is not too big but I think I am doing well. My only aim this time was to watch more than a movie/day and I have achieved that. Not only that I have achieved it but I am actually kind of happy with them. I managed to have a good mixture of Old and New - 10 Old and 24 New, Foreign and English - 5 Foreign, 27 English(I am not counting 2 Hindi movies as they are not foreign to me, nor they are English), for crying out loud I even re-watched a couple of them - which has become quite a rarity for me these days(just look at the count). How about you?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

And The Oscar Goes to...

So, 2011 is officially over then. Off course, some of us(including me) still have few movies to watch yet but I don’t think that cycle will ever be over. With Last night’s Oscars, we can call 2011 is Over and start new page of 2012.

I was almost absent from all the predictions and other games prior to the Oscars because I am not at all good at predicting. But after skipping on so called mandatory post on these predictions, I am not skipping the second mandatory post. So, here is the list the winners and my thoughts on some of the categories. I haven’t included the categories I don’t really know much about like shorts.

Results: First of all, ABC's English Presenter(I think her name was Louise). I loved her accent. I just want her to stand in front of me and keep on talking. I don't care what she talks. Just keep on talking. That is it. Here we go !!

Best Picture: The Artist
No surprises here. The Artist repeated The King's Speech from last year. Hopefully, it will be more sustainable in the long run.

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist
With all the technical awards to Hugo, I thought they will give this to Scorsese as well. But, then again Hazanavicius was the one to beat and he won it.

Best Actress in Lead Role: Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady
Why did they just do that ?? I have utmost respect for her but they did not just do that? Viola Davis was way more deserving this time. They had so many better opportunities in the past to award her. Worst decision of the Night !!

Best Actor In Lead Role: Jean Dujardin for The Artist 
As much as I wanted Clooney to win, Dujardin was the man to beat and he has one more award and nice acceptance speech. Some other time Clooney, some other time.

Best Actress in Supporting Role: Octavia Spencer for The Help.
Deep down somewhere, I was hoping for an upset. But that was not to be. Anyways, Congratulations are in order.

Best Actor In Supporting Role: Christopher Plummer for Beginners
Another Lock and we have oldest Academy winner !! and what a speech.

Original Screenplay: Woody Allen for Midnight In Paris
I seriously do not have anything against The Artist. I just haven't seen it yet and I wanted Woody Allen to win and he did. Brilliant !!

Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for The Descendants 
This really was the toughest category to call and I am more than elated to see The Descendants win. Alexander Payne Rules !!

Animated Feature: Gore Verbinski for Rango 
Chris Rock did Great Job presenting it. I wanted Tintin to win, but hey it wasn't nominated remember !!

Documentary Feature: Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin and Rich Middlemas for Undefeated
I have only seen Pina and I wasn't expecting it to win but from the buzz, I was expecting Paradise Lost 3. Still I won't call it rubbed since I have not seen it.

Foreign Language: Asghar Farhadi for A Separation (Jodaeiye Nader Az Simin) (Iran)

Thank God for no Surprises here.

Art Direction: Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo for Hugo

If you ever doubted it, you were wrong all along. Hugo had this in bag.

Costume Design: Mark Bridges for The Artist

Makeup: Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland for The Iron Lady 

I wouldn't have had any problem if this was the only award The Iron Lady won. But it was not to be either.

Cinematography: Robert Richardson for Hugo

Not really an Upset since Hugo looked equally lovely but I would have loved to see Tree of Life win here.

Film Editing: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Nice!! Nice !! That is all I have to say.

Visual Effects: Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning for Hugo
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes or Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 or Hugo. Anyone would have been fine. Hugo is just a tad better.

Original Song: Bret McKenzie for “Man Or Muppet” from The Muppets
I am trying not to rant about the nominations. So, No Comments !!

Original Score: Ludovic Bource for The Artist

Haven't seen The Artist yet but I have seen so many people predicting this win here. So, I will assume it was deserving.

Sound Editing: Phillip Stockton and Eugene Gearty for Hugo 

Ok. So, Drive won't any Oscars this year then.

Sound Mixing: Tom Fleischman and John Midgley for Hugo
Not much to say here really. Just happy Hugo is winning a lot here.

So overall, Billy Crystal did quite a good job. No complaints there. Also, not all the awards were predictable like Globes. In many categories, people who I wanted to, did win - Alexander Payne for The Descendants and Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris. So, surprisingly, I am quite content with it except Meryl Streep winning off course. Maybe, having absolutely no expectations worked.

So, what do you think about it? How many did you predict right? How many do you think were deserving and how many snubs?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Take Shelter

Considering How late I kick-started 2011, it should not come as a shock that I am still clearing up the backlog of 2011. First 2011 movie I saw was Harry Potter 7 Part 2(2011) couple of weeks after release, so somewhere in July and hence I still haven't seen likes of Shame(2011), My week with Merilyn(2011), The Muppets(2011) and Young Adult(2011). I was hoping to catch up with most of them at least before the Oscars but it hasn't been possible to get hold of all of them. So, unless a miracle happens and someone drops all the DVD's by my pillow while I am sleeping, I might have to wait a little longer. But courtesy of RedBox, I caught up with Take Shelter(2011) this weekend, another one of the apocalyptic movies from 2011. There were so many movies last year revolving around similar themes (Melancholia(2011), Another Earth(2011) come to mind immediately) that it seems Hollywood took the Mayan prediction of world ending 2012 a little too seriously.

So, we have Curtis LaForche, played brilliantly by Michael Shannon, young husband and father, construction worker living in small town in Ohio. He is married to Samantha, played equally brilliantly by Jessica Chastain, who is a house-wife and they have a daughter, Hannah who is hearing impaired. They are living in their own paradise, until one day it starts to rain. We see Curtis looking at the Sky as if he can see the end of world, except for the fact that he actually does, even if nobody else can. Various things happening around him make his suspicion stronger - rain water is muddy, birds are flying funny. He soon starts to have nightmares so strong that telling if it is a nightmare or reality becomes difficult. He tries to get a medical help but it doesn't really help him and to make the matters worse, he has a history of Paranoia. But, amidst all this he is sure of one thing that a big storm is coming and no one is ready for it. He puts almost all his money and energy into building a tornado shelter so that his family will have somewhere to go if his premonitions come true. For everyone else around him, his actions hold no ground as they don't see what he does and for them, he is losing it all - it is his slow descent into craziness.

Director Jeff Nichols, in his second project as a director gives us a slow burning thriller - an expression I am sure every reviewer has used to describe this movie. Nichols' most important achievement lies in making Curtis look genuine, authentic. He is not the first one on the silver screen to slowly disintegrate into insanity and he certainly won't be last. But, Nichols takes care of keeping his characters real. Not just Curtis but I will give him credit for Samantha as well. In her, Curtis has a companion who loves him with her whole heart and who is always by his side but who is not afraid to do the right thing when needed to be, even if it means to slap him hard on face. Also, Nichols uses Curtis' dream sequences throughout the movie wonderfully well to build up the mood, making it much horrifying since they work on the psychological level. Now, if I want to find the flaws, I will again say that it is a Slow burning thriller because it may not be everyone's cup of tea. Even in my opinion it ran a little bit longer. It takes a little more run-time than required to get him worse, once his crazy nightmares start and then again till the final conclusion. But just like Melancholia(2011), another apocalyptic movie in 2011, wait for the End !!

I will be honest here and say that I did not know whole lot about Michael Shannon and his filmography before this except Before the Devil Knows You are Dead(2007) and his Oscar nominated performance in Revolutionary Road(2008), which I found out only after I looked him up after all the buzz concerning this role. Now, I can definitely say that he is every bit deserving of the all the buzz and I would have been even happier had he been nominated. Just one scene in the middle of the movie where he actually goes crazy, after his very close friend provokes him should be enough to make a case for him and he does whole lot more than that throughout the movie. His face is probably his best asset and he uses it show variety of emotions with a great result. On the other end is the breakthrough performer of the year - Jessica Chastain who puts another powerful performance. What amazes me is that she has not just been prolific last year with 6 films but I really like the choices she has made. After seeing all the movies she made in 2011(Except Corialanus(2011)), I am having hard time to pick up a best of the lot and can only hope she continues to flourish even more in the years to come.

I know that I am already very much late and most of you must have seen Take Shelter(2011) by now. But, for some reason whatsoever you haven't, let me tell you that you are really missing something great. Go and watch it. It is worth every minute and every cent you spend on it.

Rating(out of 5):

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