Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wrapping It Up: July

Another month, another wrap-up post full of this month's viewings. It was a curious month, especially considering everything that was going on behind the scene. I would have expected to have a serious dip in the number but I have done much, much better. I will let you know little bit more about that sometime next week. For now, let us get into the month that was, in terms of my movie-watching.


The Son's Room(2001): The first time I even heard of this movie was during Cannes earlier this year when I just browsed through previous Palme d'Or winners. I will be honest that the subject of family dealing with the loss of their son is not exactly a new topic. We have seen this done before but what's good about this film is the poignancy with which the topic is handled. It was great seeing the whole family being there for each other while processing the grief in their own way. But for some reason, the daughter made more impression on me than either of the parents.

Midnight Cowboy(1969): For the longest time, this was the last Best Picture winner I had not seen. Not any more, though we don't have to go far back to find the next in line - Oliver(1968) and I have my reasons to believe it will be a while before that changes. As my introduction to John Voight was through his many supporting stints in the recent years, idea of him in the lead in the movie hasn't quite sunk in yet. His character was pretty dumb but he was excellent. However, as good as he was, Dustin Hoffman was even better.

The Grapes of Wrath(1940): John Steinback has been one of the authors I have been meaning to read for the longest time. But as it happens, I got around to see the movie first. I think I can take respite in the fact that at least it was a good movie, sad but good and I think we can take some comfort in the family had something going right for them by the end, even though they had to part with one of them.

Reds(1981): Sweeping epic in every sense of the word. Even at 3+ hours of its length, the biggest success to me was I never got bored. Throughout 3 hours of it, there was something interesting going on that kept me into it. I would have loved to see who's who of all the people talking about Reed and Bryant but I actually liked that documentary-like background of it. And Diane Keaton. I am not a big admirer of Annie Hall(1977) but even those who are will probably agree that she's better here. That was a beast of a performance!

Who Framed Roger Rabbit(1988): Why aren't there more movies like this? I don't really know if this tanked completely at the box office or something else happened that prevented making more such movies but I thought this blend of animation and live-action was rather genius. Overall story of film was more like children films with some dark tones to it. They might be able to improve on that but I really would love to see more films like this.

Spring Breakers(2013): I'll be honest that despite getting many rave reviews from fellow bloggers, I was little apprehensive of How I will like it? I have never seen a Harmony Korine film before and from trailers, it looked like sleazy, stylized, sexed-up version with no real content. It was all that but I liked it went to places that I never thought such a movie would and the darker it became, more I liked it. And I have heard many people talking about James Franco who was good but to me, the real standout was Ashley Benson.

This Is England(2006): I had seen few people talk about this movie a long while ago but going into this, I had no idea what I was in for. Even while watching the film, I had no idea where it was coming from and where it was going? but I don't mean it as a complaint. It takes so many different turns that I never expected and I like it about this film. Another thing different about this film was Protagonists in such films have non-functioning families but Shaun had a loving and caring mother.

Che Part One and Part Two(2008): I usually try not to bring politics into this blog but talking about a movie like this one without bringing your own political inclinations into it is almost impossible. I think this is a good film and it should at least be appreciated by almost everyone for the effort both Soderbergh and Del Toro put into it to make it and look really authentic. Beyond that, whether you like it or not will most probably depend upon political views and your ability to put them aside while watching a piece of art. Full review of both films here.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow(1963): Granted, I have seen only a couple of Vittorio De Sica films but when I see his name on the screen, I expect nothing good to happen to any characters. With that impression in my mind, this movie was the biggest surprise I can get. De Sica making a Comedy? and then you get to the very first story which is wackiest story you would see. They were all quite funny and of course, Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni can do very little wrong.

Andrei Rublev(1966): I feel almost stupid for rating this. It is absolutely insignificant - rating I mean. Only certain thing I can say about it is after watching Solaris(1972) last month and almost hating it, I found a lot to like in this film. Apart from that, I am still processing it. There are so many dots here that I haven't connected yet that I feel stupid talking about it but it was my Blind Spot film for this month. So, more here.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani(2013)(Hindi): A very typical Bollywood film but it was very fun movie to watch. Walking into a Dharma Production movie, you should know what you are signing up for and as long as it doesn't make me groan in disgust every once in a while, I am fine with it. But in reality, I actually got something more - few catchy songs and all 4 leads giving fine performances, including Deepika Padukone. I never hated her but I think this is her first memorable performance.

Pi(1998): Even though it is a very first feature film Darren Arofonsky ever did, it was last of his film I saw. If I can find some of his shorts somewhere, I would love to profile him sometime soon. With extreme close-ups, jarring imagery, constant cuts, rotating camera and loud, high pitch background music, it has that typical Arofonsky feel to it. It is a good start to his already great career but it is just that - a start. He not only perfected his craft in later films but also got better actors, something this movie dearly lacked.

Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928): After loving the hell out of The General(1926), first Buster Keaton I saw, I was still looking for a next one I like as the next two I saw were kind of a miss for me. I don't know if I can count this as a hit as the last 15 minutes of tornado were kind of absurd and a little over the top but it did have its moments even within those last minuted like him getting over that wooden fence. As usual, Keaton's timing was awesome and it definitely gave me some great laughs. That should count for something as well.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles(1987): I first heard about it after seeing Due Date(2010) which is essentially a remake of it. But if I have to compare the two, I liked this much way more mainly because of the trouble-makes character. All I ever wanted to do to Gilfianakis was to punch him in the face as hard as I can. Here, I liked John Candy's character. Sure he has a loud mouth, sure he got them into trouble all the time but I can understand Steve Martin going back to help him. And off course, Steve Martin.

Haywire(2012)(Re-watch): Because Gina Carano is bad-ass in it and that is all the reason you should need to watch this one. I don't remember if I noticed it the first time I saw it, I must have because it is the very first thing you notice but, her fights are beautifully shot and Carano takes full swing every time to land them square on the body. Every single blow Channing Tatum or Michael Fassbender or anyone else received, I swear I never would have recovered from any of those. 

Shane(1953): The reason I saw this movie was because I know many people consider it as one of the great westerns. I went through some reviews and articles about it after watching the film and I am sorry to say that I don't understand what is great about this film? I am not saying this is a bad film. No, not by any stretch of imagination. It just wasn't Great. Maybe, once again, it is that Bollywood upbringing but every turn that story took, it was obvious to me that it was going there. Again, it's not a bad movie but it isn't great as everyone else seems to think.

My Left Foot(1989): Once again, DDL proved a force to be reckoned with. I really don't have anything against his performance but usually, after a film where someone like Christy Brown wins in life against all the odds, you really feel it for the person. I didn't, for him. Maybe it's a cynic in me, maybe I wasn't in the right place but I don't think I like this character very much. His mother, now that's a character I would love to see a film of.

The Thief of Bagdad(1924): Another silent film I saw because of its mention in The Story of Film(2011) but will have more of a historical importance to me than anything else. Sure, in terms of its Grandeur, Set Designs and visual effects were exemplary for its time. However even by the silent film standards, I don't think acting was and Douglas Fairbanks himself was the worst culprit of it. Story was like a bedtime story for children which essentially it is and I really doubt if anyone would say "Thou Dog! What torments can we devise for thee!"

Intolerance(1916): You can pretty much paste first four lines above here as well. I appreciate its place in history of film and understand why it deserves it but as a film, I have lot of problems with it. First of all, did we really 'need' 4 stories? and like 75 characters in each story? Only Game of Thrones(2011) has more characters than that and he introduced them all in first 10 minutes. I was so confused who's who and from which story for a long time. Also after watching couple of D.W. Griffith's movies, I feel like he is Michael Moore of silent films. His films always have only one side.

Faust(1926): I didn't plan it that way but it is my fifth silent film of the month. And please don't think I hate silents based on the dismal ratings I have given here. Actually, there are quite a few silents I really, really love. It just happens that I didn't this month. Faust started decently and I can also somewhat get on-board with part since the innocent girl's entry but about one hour in-between was a disaster. Plus, every single character in the film was miserable. I understand the reason here but historically, I am not very fond of such movies.

Birth of a Nation(1915): So I finally understand why people hate this film so much now. Up until the Civil War portion of it, I found myself defending a lot of things in this movie but then it just went down from there. I agree that in terms of movie history, it is a monumental film. For a 1915 film, it must be the most technologically advanced but in terms of its content, it's laughably atrocious. Only genuinely good thing I can say about this film is it set the oldest film I have seen clock back by 8 years.

The Trial(1962): I am not very well-versed with either Welles' work or Franz Kafka novels but to me, this film was like one of those connect the dot puzzles where if you do, you have a nice picture. Only problem here was we were only given the dots and were not allowed to connect them to see the complete picture. Like work of modern art, you have the most bizarre, most abstract structure in front of you and are expected to marvel at its beauty. I can appreciate few things about them but I don't understand a damn thing.

Barbarella(1968): I have never seen anything like this before. I rarely see any B-Grade movies and after watching this, I realized why. I mean it is a fun film in a way, if you can take pleasure in your sufferings. Characters are stupid, acting is laughably bad, effects on which this film rests heavily are extremely dated and once again are laughable at best and story - let us not even talk about it. If you really want to deluge yourself with some stupid, campy, B-grade cheesiness, knock yourself out.

Agent Vinod(2012)(Hindi): This movie is what happens when one of the worst screenplays you can imagine gets into the hands on an equally incompetent director. Forget about the audience, it never looked like the director himself is taking the movie seriously. For an action movie that aims to make a big splash, even action sequences throughout this movie were really phony. I don't have much problem with any of the actors involved but the material itself was so bad, I am sure even the career-best performances from everyone involved wouldn't have saved this film.

Total Count: 25. 24 First Time Watches and 1 Re-watch .

2013 YTD Count
Total Count: 158. 146 First Time Watches and 12 Re-watches.

This is actually the best month I have had this year. And to think that I expected it to be the worst quite frankly. I am also beginning to think that I am being rather harsh of rating the films because this is second month in a row where there is no film over 4 stars and quite a few below 2 start, which to me is pretty much a grace rating. But it is what it is!

There are two highlights of this month. One, this being such a prolific month despite my expectations being complete opposite and two, number of silent films I watched despite me being 'meh' on most of them. I think it was August last year when I sat down and finally watched my first silent film and went on to watch 6 more in that same month. I don't think I saw many more since then. But after hearing about a lot of them on The Story of Film(2011) and seeing a lot them available on Netflix for streaming, I went on another mini-binge. I won't call any of them my favourites but I was happy to have seen them at last.

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


  1. Oh, I loved Benson in Spring Breakers. Her and Hudgens were standouts for me, probably because I found two of their characters to be the most interesting in the whole film.

    1. Good to hear someone is with me. :) Two of them definitely were the most impressive.

  2. I'm glad you liked Midnight Cowboy, The Grapes of Wrath and Roger Rabbit! They're legendary :)

    I also found Birth of a Nation to be a bit of a shit. We can all appreciate the things D.W. Griffith did for cinema, but that doesn't make it a good movie.

    1. I would like to take some credit but that is exactly why I watched them. :) but it is good to see they can still be as good as they were.

      My sentiments exactly. I'll give you the historical importance of it. Just don't ask me to praise it for that.

  3. You always impress me with the variety of films you watch, and this month is no different.

    I would love to see Reds, but I'm afraid it's simply too long to be practical at this point. And on the other end, I've always been interested in Barbarella, too. Only because of it's iconic, schmaltz value.

    Planes, Trains is such a great movie. I've never finished Due Date, but I completely agree with your sentiments. Candy was lovable. Galifinakis? I'd love strangling him.

    1. Thanks! I just get bored very soon if I watch similar films. So I purposely try to mix them up. :)

      You are right about Reds. It is definitely too long but I thought it was worth, if only you have 3 hours to spare. And if THAT is what you are looking for in Barbarella, it is flooded with it. You will get your full share and SO much more. :)

      BTW, I saw your daughter's photo on Twitter the other day. Congratulations, Dad! She is such an angel!!

  4. I also watched Midnight Cowboy for the first time last month. I really enjoyed it for the most part, though I am a bit surprised at its Best Picture status.

    Kudos to you for watching Birth of a Nation. I still haven't mustered up enough interest to check that out, though I probably should.

    Nice diversity as always!

    1. After all, it is famous for being the only X-Rated Best Picture Winner. I don't know the competition but I think I am fine with it.

      Call me weird but when people hate a movie passionately, it usually gets me interested more in it. It happened with Antichrist, it happened with this as well. I hated both films but I don't regret watching either. Well....maybe I do regret watching Antichrist.

      Thanks as always!

  5. Yeah, John Voight and Dustin Hoffmann carried that movie. Quite amazing how vastly different the bus scenes are in "The Graduate" and "Midnight Cowboy", both iconic cinematic moments.
    On a side note, it amuses me that the poster of new movie The Way Way Back (2013) steals the pool scene from The Graduate.

    I loved the intro of Who Framed Roger Rabbit(1988), don't really remember the rest.

    Buster Keaton, you should check One Week (1920), if you haven't, that to me was a bit better than Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)

    My Left Foot(1989) had a brilliance performance, but the movie itself to me is not that remarkable.

    As M Brown said in comments, I would love to see Reds. Thanks for the tip!

    1. They definitely did!

      I liked the intro too but the rest of it wasn't bad either.

      I haven't. I'll look into it. Thanks Chris!

      Yup. I agree.

      Do it! It is three hours but worth it if you ask me.

  6. Well done man. This a great month of films! I keep putting off The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance, but I do want to see them for their place in film history, as you mentioned. Also, glad you liked Spring Breakers. Benson was great, indeed.

    1. Come on Josh! I am sure I am nowhere close to your tally, am I? :D

      I am sorry for not encouraging you more but that is the only reason someone should sit through The Birth of Nation or Intolerance - their historical importance. I could not find anything more in either of the films.


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