Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wrapping It Up: October

This month of Halloween came with a lot of scares cinematic as well as realistic in the form of Hurricane Sandy hitting the east coast of United States. This whole atmosphere was so infectious that even I, someone who doesn't really see eye-to-eye with Horror genre, tried to assimilate in with a small personal marathon. On a completely different note for many reasons, this month feels like month of confessions. As you go through the post below, you will realize that I admitted so many things that probably some of you will black-list me for being THAT guy. Let us see how that goes?

Since I started rating movies last month in my reviews, I thought of re-arranging this post as well. So, from this month I am going to club movies based on their ratings.


City of God(2002)(Rewatch): There are very few movies that are as well acted as this one and as I said it here, I have never seen anyone from the whole cast before or after ever again. In my opinion, it is one of the most well acted, well directed, well shot - actually there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. There. I said it.


Boogie Nights(1997): I will write about in my next post, Director's piece on PTA but it is one of those movies that makes you want to know How in Hell did he make this movie ? To me it's biggest success is for a movie about porn industry, it isn't a porn itself but for every second in it you know it is about it. I believe that is a very fine line and either way you go, it would have suffered but PTA being PTA kept his balance to perfection. And it works like a wonder but that last shot. I really did not need to see that.

Paths of Glory(1957): I have said it time and again that I am not a traditional Kubrick fan (Confession No. 1). I believe that he made his films weird, acerbic just because he could, there is no real reason to it. But my observation is older Kubrick is more acceptable to me. Well, there are exceptions but mostly. Paths of Glory asserted my belief. It's sharp, it's critical but never cynic. Technical brilliance was always there with Kubrick anyways.

Fargo(1996)(Rewatch): Let me come very clean first (No.2). This is not the first time I am watching Fargo and best part it I did not care about it at all on my first watch, I have no idea why. In my defense, it was long back at the very start of my movie-geek phase. But when I saw it second time I thouroughly LOVED that movie. Most of the Coen Brother trademarks like its tragic plot, all the humour sprinkled in it and off course so many great actors really captivated me this time. BTW, does anyone else feel like there are way too many "Oh Yeah"s in it ?

Shadow of a Doubt(1943): Sometimes it's good to go back to old Hitchcock, you see. Never a bad idea. This one was actually much better than I anticipated. He built up the story so well that even after knowing who is the criminal, circumstances make you question your own judgement until the very end. Ending came very suddenly and didn't really made any impact on me but his build-up up to that ending was phenomenal.

Saw(2004): If you have seen this post, you would know why I am not big on horror as well( No. 3 already). There are very few Horror movies that I feel are worth it and I was so happy that Saw was. Even here, I was never really scared(I went to bed right after and actually over-slept a little) but it grabbed my attention from the word Go! and kept me riveted. It's clever, it's gritty and maybe horror pundits may not think so but for me, it's different.

Oslo, August 31(2012): I don't know much about Anders Danielsen Lie who plays the main character Anders in this and it seems that this is very early in his career but he was phenomenal. His face, his body language speaks so much more than he himself - an always welcome sign in any movie depicting addiction. He made me hate him with passion because only thing more pathetic than a junkie is relapsing junkie but I only mean it as a compliment to his acting. It really captures Anders' slow descent into his old habits subtly but very efficiently.

A Tale of Two Sisters(2003): I remember watching this movie many years ago when I was back at home, on TV. I think I did not see the whole thing because there is no way I won't remember this once I have seen it. To me, best kind of Horror movie is the one that manages to be creepy as well without using jump scares. By any definition possible, this goes into one of the best horror movies I have seen. Now I know that isn't saying much but you really should check it out. I guarantee you, it will be worth your time.

Argo(2012): Since it's release I have heard a lot of talk on Argo and its authenticity. I had no idea about this incidence until I heard of this movie. I have heard a lot of people talking about how many changes did Ben Affleck make from the original story but I don't know the original story. So, I didn't really mind. I know some wanted more politics in it or some kind of social commentary in it. I am fine with that too. So for me, it's only based on what I see on screen and it was fabulous. Definitely one of the best movies of the year.

Your Sister's Sister(2012): Are you surprised to see me rate this so high? I was too. But I really can't help it, it just was awesome. It was super weird, super straight forward and for the most part super awkward(I was like What the hell are you talking about?) but all the three leads won me over time and again. And Rosemarie DeWitt, can someone please at least campaign for her? I don't have a lot of money or else I would pay for that myself. She was amazing.

The Descent(2005): There were around 5 fellow bloggers I have seen talking about this movie this month. So, I checked it out as well and yup, they were right. It is Awesome !! It's intelligent, it's tense, it's bloody and I don't say this often - it is fXXXing scary(Next time I say movies don't scare me, remind me.) It sure isn't the most original story out there but with their group dynamics and Sarah's background story, it works so much better. I am real glad that I checked it out.

Perfect Blue(1997): After watching this movie, it is kind of obvious to see why Aronofsky was so impressed with this movie and inspired to base Black Swan(2010)'s look on it. I have never seen so dark and so rated animation movie in my life. I however like the way it ended. I like that it ended very neatly and didn't go anywhere bizarre. Overall quality of animations could have been better though.

Cabin in The Woods(2012): Let me try and make sense of what I want to say. At the start of the year when this movie was released, everyone said that this is a game-changer movie. I really believe that to be true. I loved the twist that makes it a game-changer and I also enjoyed the movie overall. But despite of it, I am still giving it a mediocre rating. If it wasn't for the ending, I certainly would have rated it a little higher but it dropped half a star the minute they brought GOD into it.

Looper(2012): I can not shake-off the feeling of being a little under-whelmed by it. Maybe it was the excessive praise it received from almost everyone went to see it. It isn't a bad movie at all, it's rather good but looking at everyone going gaga over it, I was expecting something more which I don't think it was. Full review here which also marks first ever back-to-back New Release reviews I did with The Master(2012) review.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy(2011): Reason I wanted to see this movie this month was it apparently featured on the cover of '1001 Movies - 2012 Edition'. As and when I watch it again, which I will because this movie demands it, I might elevate this rating. But right now, I have more questions than answers about this movie. There are so many things that I don't understand right now that it's kinda frustrating. It was aces in the acting department though and probably Harry Potter series is the only other place I have seen so many British actors together.

Poltergeist(1982): I came to this for my Horror Festival with very high recommendations. Almost everyone said that of all the horror classics, it is one of the 'must watch's. I found a lot to like about it but then there were some problems too. Let us just say that while I enjoyed while watching it, there is a good chance I did not like it just as much as most of you did. More here. 

Prometheus(2012): I may have shouted "GO TO YOUR LEFT or Right, you Dumb Woman! How can you not see that shape" at the end but not being a big fan of either Alien(1979) or Blade Runner(1982)(another confession, you see), I really didn't expect to like it at all. However despite some of it's flaws, I liked it much more than I thought I would. Having little less expectations always works.

On the Road(2012): Whenever I see a movie based on a book that I have already read, I can never help but compare it with the book and more often than not, that turns out to be an undoing for the movie. Walter Salles' adaptation of Jack Kerouac's probably one of the most read books of the last century, suffers from the same problem. I thought there was a lot to like in this movie; Salles even managed to get few expressions out of Kristen Stewart but in never reaches that madness, that zing you feel while reading book. It feels like he is holding something back where if at all that book is about something, it is about giving yourself completely and unquestionably.


21 Jump Street(2012): There is nothing new or different or fresh about this. This is exactly like, I don't even how many, typical teenage comedy movie made out there. Not that I was expecting anything different from it either. But even then, it made me laugh on more than one occasion and it gets credit for that. And Jonah Hill. He is like Born to do such roles, you know.

His Girl Friday(1940): It's Official. I DO NOT like Cary Grant doing comedies and I like this guy (Yup, I told you). Granted, I have seen only two, this and Arsenic and Old Lace(1941) (I actually remember screaming at the screen while watching this one) but I hated him in both. Rosalind Russell kept this one together for me, she was so much better but give me Cary Grant in a Drama. There were flashes of brilliance but it ended in me beating my forehead. Not For Me.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel(2012): John Madden must have watched a lot of Hindi movies, crappy ones at that while preparing for this movie because this is like every possible bad, contrived, cliched thing that can happen in a typical Bollywood 'Masala Movie' put together in one, just instead of a hunk and damsel in distress, we have all the elderly people. It did have its moments especially with Maggie Smith, I won't deny that but it waned off really quickly.

From Russia, With Love(1963): I have seen few Bond movies as a kid. But the problem is, except Casino Royale(2006) and those with Pierce Brosnon, I really don't remember anything at all. Seeing that some of them are on Instant, I thought of giving them a go before Skyfall(2012). This one felt a little too '60s to me(Did you observe their satellite phones? They were bigger than my laptop). The part where Bond was being an agent held up quite well for me but part where he was suave, ladies man - not so much. Even some of their accents were really distracting, especially Colonel Klebb.

Little Shop of Horrors(1986): From whatever I had heard about this, even before watching this, I knew that this is kind of movie that will not work for everyone. Even though I have been meaning to watch this, I knew that if you could buy into it, you will like it. If not, there is a very good chance you will hate it. I was right and no, I didn't but into it much. It had its moments that I could appreciate and even enjoy but overall, too weird, too campy, too musical-y. A little too much almost everything. Another proof '80s is not for me(Is that too much information ?).


The Day of the Jackal(1973): Based on Frederick Forsyth book, it is pretty much run of the mill story for him. Looking at the plot, I thought it might be a good mystery with a genuine possibility of being something great and it did have rather slow but intriguing start but then it wavered. It makes too many assumptions to overlook them, jumps from A to B with no real connection between them and finally that killer slips out of their hands so many times that I actually wanted him to succeed just to get it over with.

Paprika(2006): To put it simply, one of the worst animes I have seen. Almost for the complete of its runtime, I pretty much had no idea what was happening. It was something that might have looked really great on paper or in someone's mind but while putting it on screen, it was a complete mess. Beautiful mess but a mess. Maybe it was a little too much for its own good.

Halloween(1978): Another Confession Time. Halloween is exactly the kind of a movie that made Horror my least favourite genre. It is very much 'by the book' horror which I find least bit scary, very formulaic, predictable and on the verge stupid. Only concession i am ready to give it is I don't know if there was a movie like this made before it. So, in a way it might have influenced the whole bunch of horror movies made since. Influential, probably yes. Good, Good God No.

Total Count:26. 25 First Time Watches and 1 Re-watches .

2012 YTD Count
Total Count: 273. 256 First Time Watches and 17 Re-watches.

So, with the end of the year approaching now, we are getting a horde of Oscar contenders in coming weeks. It's really exciting to see that almost every single week from now, we will have at least one movie hitting the theaters that might as well be the big hitter in the award season. Even I have shifted my gears in to 2012 mode now(what I mean by that is I am watching more and more 2012 movies now). I have already seen a dozen this month. I expect that it will continue in the next 2-3 months to come, might even go up a little. I have also started to keep a little track of awards prediction now that they will start to make some sense. It will be the first time that I will go into the award season with a little preparation myself rather than always catching up with them, like I had to last year. Personally, at around the halfway mark of the year, I decided to aim for 300 movies in a year. I still have two more months to go but looking at the current speed, I think I will reach their safely.

Happy Halloween Everyone !! And make sure you wish Large Association of Movie Blogs(LAMB) that makes it possible for all movie bloggers like us to communicate with each other, Happy 5th today !! HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAMB !!

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

Friday, October 26, 2012

October Horror Festival

If you ask me What is your least Favourite Genre in movies?, my most probable answer would be Horror and there are couple of things that contribute to it. First of all, I rarely find them scary. I can easily watch them alone, in the night and then go right to sleep without any problem. And second and probably most importantly as I figured in past year or so, I haven't seen vast majority of them. However, since getting involved with various bloggers over this past year, I have learned of a new way to look at them. I learned that they don't always have to be scary or gory to be good. I learned to appreciate the horror elements in it more like the atmosphere and background music and make-up and such. Since I have acquired this new perspective, I have tried to give some horror movies a chance. After all, what kind of movie blogger would I be if I don't learn from these experiences and give new, different things a chance? (bad Kind...I guess) Isn't that a part of blogging oath we all have taken(WHAT??) And then, what better time to get into Horror genre than now, Halloween month when it looks like everyone is pretty much in the same mood. So, I did a mini marathon of 4 movies - just 1 movie per week. I wouldn't want to over-do it in very first attempt since I wanted to write about it too and I suspect that writing about Horror movies is a completely different beast. So, easy does it. Here we go!

Saw(2004): Main reason why I picked Saw for this marathon was because of its place in pop culture. In fact, there are three movies here that I picked mainly because of this. Only thing different with Saw was I knew that I will not watch any of its dozen or so sequels. But it seems that almost everyone agrees that the first one was great. So, I checked it out and as it turns out, it really is great. For those who do not know what this is about(anyone?), this is basically a story of a jigsaw killer who plays some kind of sick, twisted games with his victims if they want to live. His current victims are one Dr. Gordon and photographer Adam Faulkner. Both are tied in the shackles by their ankles and are given equipments enough to carry out the allocated task. Task is Dr. Gordon has to shoot Adam by 6:00 PM or else both his wife and daughter will die. As the movie progresses, we realize what this jigsaw killer has done in the past? How are Gordon and Faulkner related to it and then to each other as well? In most horror movies, we are kind of used to see the villain physically inflicting pain on its victims. What happens in Saw is different and hence brilliant. It creates a situation where victims have to do that on themselves. Even though there is enough of blood and other disturbing stuff in it, what makes it stand out to me is it doesn't rely completely on these elements to scare the audience. It builds up a real story and the atmosphere with it.

Again, there are very few instances throughout the movie where I was scared at all but I was definitely drawn into the story from the start and by revealing some aspects of the story every few minutes, it kept me interested till end. And I LOVED the twist in the end. 15-20 minutes to end when first killer is revealed, I wasn't satisfied with it and I thought that is such a weak end to otherwise much better movie but then when second killer stands up, I was actually clapping and jumping in my seat (In case you are wondering, Yes. That IS my usual response to something creepy). It is unnerving, it is chilling, it is violent and gory. It is possible that if I watch any of its sequels, I may not have this high opinion of it. I have also heard an opinion blaming it for all the crop of 'torture porn' since then. But since I have seen none, I think I will stand by and call it smart and inventive with extra points for that ending.

Rating(out of 5):

Poltergeist(1982): Second of the three movies that I saw because of their place in pop culture. Almost everyone has said that Poltergeist is like an essential movie for anything horror related. I was even told that it is downright terrifying. Again I wasn't scared but I understand that being scared of or by something is very subjective thing and I also accept that there were scenes that were creepy as hell. First of all. I didn't know what does the word mean. Apparently, it's a ghost that you can't see but can hear or feel.(So they got that right) So Poltergeist, the movie, is about a Happy looking middle class family with three kids. They start to experience few strange things in their house like an earthquake no one else in the neighbourhood knows anything about, things mysteriously move in their kitchen and most importantly, their youngest gets drawn repeatedly to TV and starts talking to 'TV People'. After a couple of days however, their world turns upside down as in freakiest of the events, their daughter gets sucked into the closet in her room. For the rest of the movie, parents try to get their daughter back, first with the help of Dr. Lesh, para-psychologist and then professional exorcist Tangina. There are lot of things to like about Poltergeist. Their setting-up of Freeling's as a loving family before things turn ugly, makes us sympathetic about their problems throughout. The scenes like their daughter getting sucked or when her mother rescues her are some of the best scenes I have seen. Character of Tangina also adds a lot to the whole mystique of the movie. And even though Spielberg is only writer, I couldn't help but notice how similar it looks and feels to his work from late '70s and '80s. But if I am being truthful to myself, I found all the praise towards it rather hyperbolic.

I did have few problems with the movie like first, Freelings have been leaving in that house for more than 5 years as there is a reference that their youngest was born in it. So, what changed that they start to experience all this now? We never know. Also, I might have got this wrong but according to explanation that Tangina gives, their daughter gets drawn because of something of the sort of 'Living Force'. So, basically because she is human. So, wouldn't anyone else in the family suffice? If yes, then why was a 5-year old child chosen? Because it will have more jarring effect on audience? There are few more but I mention these two because I think they were easily fixable. I DID NOT hate this movie, there was much to like about it. But it is safe to say that I probably didn't like it either as most others.

Rating(out of 5):

A Tale of Two Sisters(2003): Only foreign film of the bunch and off course, by that it implies this is the only film of the four that I did not see because of its pop culture presence. It also might well be the best or at least my favourite of the four as well. I remember watching this, or as it seems part of this, back at home on TV. I am sure that for whatever reason, I did not see the whole movie because I don't think I will forget watching something like this. As the title suggests, it is basically a story of two sisters who are just back from some kind of institutionalization. We never know what happened exactly to their mother but we know that she is no more. Their father has re-married and their stepmother seems to be the cause of rift between father and older sister as well as between her and stepmother too. Of course both the sisters have almost no working relationship with their stepmother but apparently older sister, Su-Mi, believes that their stepmother harasses younger Soo-Yeon. Their father also seems to carry some kind of guilt conscience that he believes Soo-Mi holds him responsible for something happened in their past - maybe him remarrying, maybe something to do with their mother's death, we don't know until the end. First almost 40 minutes or so is pretty much like a family drama with all the tensions in the broken family flaring around but then nightmares and visions start and we've got game !!

To me the best kind of horror movie is the one which uses minimum to no jump scares but still manages to be creepy and spooky. A Tale of Two Sisters is that kind of a movie. Name apparently, is taken from a Korean folklore which talks about a story similar to the one in movie. Usually, background music plays a very important part in creating the atmosphere for all the scares and when used, it is used effectively here as well. However, for a large part of its run-time, there is absolutely no background sound whatsoever and that silence makes it so much more creepier. With a little more than half hour left, there is a twist which changes everything. What I loved about it as you will probably never guess that twist but after the reveal, you realize there have been few subtle touches hinting towards it, right from the start.

Rating(out of 5):

Halloween(1978): Last movie of the lot and another one that I have heard a lot about. When I originally thought about doing this at the start of this month, this wasn't on my list. But then I remembered never having seen any of this another monumental franchise in Horror Folklore. So I decided to give this a try instead. Unfortunately, I really hoped that I had anything more good to say about this movie which I know many people consider as their favourite horror movie ever since childhood. Maybe because I did not see it as a child is one of the reasons but I just did not care about this movie at all. Or rather Halloween is exactly the kind of movie that made Horror my least favorite genre. It is very much what you can call 'By the book' movie which is least bit scary for me, very formulaic and predictable. I know that I said I am going to try to look at them with new perspective in mind. But in this case, I just could not help it. Michael Meyers is considered as one of the most iconic villains in the industry. Based on this entry alone at least, I found him dull and even stupid to an extent. How many times does Laurie have to escape from him? How did he miss her the first time? There were so many such things that happened in the movie for no reason other than 'because we won't have a movie then'. It was a disaster. Only concession that I will give it is a possibility that probably this was the first film of its kind, with slasher villains, teen horrors etc. At least I do not know if there were any movies before this. So if that is true, it will at least get some of my respect for being an inspiration to horde of movies that came out after. Not that I care about most of them either, but being the first one in the line, being influential enough that everyone wants to copy you for many years after, got to count.

Rating(out of 5):

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