Monday, September 30, 2013

Wrapping it up: September

Another month, another wrap-up post full of this month's viewings. As you will go down to the list of movies I saw this month, don't be surprised to see a lot of very high rated movies. I mean, it does happen usually but now even more than usual. Because just before leaving States, I bought myself a stock and by stock I mean more than 150 films. Off course, most of these films are the ones I wanted to see either because of the mass appeal or critical acclaim. So for the next few months, don't be surprised if you see a lot of great first-timers for me. Just warning you. So lets get to it then.


Broadcast News(1987): For some reason.... no, scratch that. For many reasons I felt like I haven't felt while watching any movie in quite a while and it is such a great feeling. Within first half hour, I was beaming with smile about everything in it and I knew that I was going to like this movie right then and there. Now, after having seen it, I know I was right. I know that I am going to watch it again and again many times and I feel like I will have something more to like in it every time I watch it. It is such a personal, such a beautiful film. I am cursing myself for not having seen it sooner.

The Hunt(2013): Once again, it's Mads Mikkelsen reigns Supreme but there is so much more to admire about this film. When I heard about the topic, my biggest worry was how would they justify a 5 year old talking about something like this and yes, they handled it really well. I think the reason this story works so well is at no point, it tries to pin someone down. There are many characters in this film that do horrible things but every single one of them has a solid reason to do so and in their shoes, they are absolutely right about it. It's amazing how things turn out some time. And I LOVE the note it ends on. It's SO perfect.

Zombieland(2009)(Re-watch): From its narrative approach to its stylistic elements, from making a zombie comedy to calling the characters by the city names, there is so much in it that just should not have worked but this movie is still such a delight. I love Emma Stone and can watch pretty much anything she is in but she is absolutely perfect in that role and so is Abigail Breslin. Eisenberg can be little annoying but that is exactly why his character works. But Woody Harrelson has to be the biggest delight of this perfect cast. He is pure fun to watch.

The Conjuring(2013): Typically, I am not a Horror fan but I tries this because of the high praise from various bloggers and I have to say they were right. Total scenario of this film is pretty basic but it wins in the execution. What it does right is, like many other horror films, it didn't try to startle the viewer. It was actually scaring me. Every time you see something scary, it is kind of introduced for a second first and then it goes to its full scale horror. So you know something is going to hit you but then it hits you and hits hard!!

Sweet Smell of Success(1957): Tony Curtis' slimy, disgusting press agent is probably the biggest spectacle on screen. But from the acting POV, I was leaning more towards relentlessly unscrupulous Lancaster for one reason - I absolutely despised Falco; I know I am supposed to but we are supposed to hate Hunsecker as well and I didn't. I was more fascinated by the length he was ready to go to. This one further cements my belief of 1957 as the Best year in cinematic history. I already have 9 extremely solid entries from this year and this one takes it into double digits.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind(1984): It is so apt that success of this film resulted in the formation of Studio Ghibli because this movie is everything you ever expected from a Ghibli movie. As I said in the Miyazaki Profile post, it is as if this is a Test case for everything we have now come to expect from Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli films(young but dynamic female protagonist, initially threatening but redeemable antagonist, strong environmentalist vibe) and it is astonishing how wonderfully well it works even after 30 years of its release.

The Dark Knight Rises(2012)(Re-watch): My first viewing since I saw it in the theaters. Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway are still awesome, Bane's voice wasn't that much of a distraction anymore (but that could be subtitles). Many little things in the story make a little more sense this time but there are still few things that I could have done without. But the biggest thing that hasn't changed is I still don't give a shit if it is the worst film in the whole world (It's not, by leagues). I Love It! Deal with it.

The Silent Duel(1949): I remember watching High and Low(1963) a little over a year ago. That was my first Kurosawa film not set in the Samurai period. I already recognised him as one of the greatest directors ever but this opened a whole different avenue for me. I have seen many films set in contemporary period now and Kurosawa has almost never disappointed me yet. As for this film, it was very different to watch otherwise very animated Toshiro Mifune being the quiet, reserved person but he sure made it worth it.

From Here to Eternity(1953): I am slowly going through Best Picture winners that I haven't seen yet. I know 3 or 4 that I am looking forward to but most of the rest feel like Homework. So it is always great to see a surprise package like this making this homework worth it. Gentleman's Agreement(1947) did something similar last year. It had a great cast with everyone doing a notable jobs in their roles but once again, Burt Lancaster made me notice him. Either he knew how to choose a meatier role or he knew a knack to make them meatier. Either way, its commendable.

In the Name of the Father(1993): I have seen my fair share of IRA related movies and in some ways or the rather, every one of them has moved me; even outraged me. But I don't think I have felt anything this much. If we are comparing two films, I will say Hunger(2008) is a better movie but even that didn't feel so much. And as great as Daniel Day-Lewis is in this film(and I think he is even better than his Oscar-winning performance in My Left Foot(1989)), it was Pete Postlethwaite who was scene-stealer. My heart went out to him every time he was on screen.

The Searchers(1956): Movie that has been referred as 'The Best Western made ever' was this month's Blind Spot Entry. I don't know much about westerns but I think I will prefer couple of others I have seen over this. Racism involved in it has probably been the most talked about topic in this and if you read here, I have tried to weigh in as well. It may look like I am supporting racism in it but what I wanted to say was he might be trying to show us how people used to think then. I am no Ford expert but I won't find him guilty yet either.

A Man and a Woman(1966): Reminded me of One Fine Day(1996). I have had troubled relationship with French 'New Wave-y' films. I think of most of them as gimmicks that may or may not work for anyone. I am not sure if this counts as a new wave film but if it does, it is probably the one I liked most. There are still many gimmicks in it that I don't think are necessarily needed but most of them worked for me. Aimee Anouk is yet another in the line of many stunning beauties in French films but yet again, she was able to support it with her very mature performance.

Whisper of the Heart(1995): There are many films under the banner of Studio Ghibli but are not directed by Miyazaki that I haven't seen. Even though he did not direct it, he did work on the screenplay and it is such a sweet film. There is no fantasy element in it but once again, it is a coming of age story of a young girl who challenges herself to prove her worth. I would have rated it even higher but I had few problems with middle school students confessing their love and proposing to each other. 

In the Heat of the Night(1967): Yet another Best Picture winner of the list. Both Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger were stellar in their performances and the mystery of the killer kept me engaged. But looking at the basic plot, I expected the stakes to be higher and I can't shake off the feeling that they played it too safe. Though it never was superficial, screenplay looked like it was caught in two minds whether to concentrate more on Racism or on murder investigation at hand and in the process, couldn't get deeper into neither.

Somewhere(2010): One of the topics that I have often wondered about is should we allow an ending to ruin the whole movie experience? I have often been guilty of it myself but I swear, I try not to. It's just that sometimes it's not possible, like in this case. I LOVED Elle Fanning in this, I loved the way it portrayed their loneliness. You could see that in their eyes even in the moments they are enjoying the most, knowing that this is ephemeral. But that ending has left such a bad taste in my mouth.

The Castle of Cagliostro(1979): Hayao Miyazaki has made himself quite a reputation in the past few decades. This is the first film he ever directed and in a grand tradition of my Profiles posts, it was the last of his films I saw. It's a good film but the thing is Miyazaki directed it and now, that we know him so well, I've come to expect certain things from his film and it's nothing like that. Does that make it a bad film? Definitely not but it definitely would've been better with his signature traits.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey(2012)(Re-watch): I LOVE LOTR and I really want to like this too. I even like a lot of things about this film but I still don't understand why Peter Jackson had to add so many extraneous bits to it. I had the same problem when I saw it first, I was wondering same thing this time as well and they won't go away until next two movies come out and give those characters a valid reason to belong where none of them do. Please, Peter Jackson. Help me like you!

Hulk(2003): I have always been confused about which of the two Hulk movies is directed by Ang Lee. After watching this, I was almost sure it was the other one. I have only seen half of his films but this has got to be the least favourite, by far. Pairing of Eric Bana and Jennifer Connelly is probably the best thing about this film and it actually works pretty well as well. Lee's direction isn't bad but it isn't anything notable either and that rarely happens. Even script lacked the punch and end result proved lackluster at best. 

The Incredible Hulk(2008): If the Bana-Connelly pair was the best thing about Lee's Hulk, Edward Norton - Liv Tyler pairing was the worst thing about this Hulk. Not that everything else is any better but Liv Tyler's rigidness makes them look Oscar-worthy. I usually like Norton but even he is very monotonous here. Idea of giving Hulk an adversary by making yet another but evil Hulk is such a washed-up trick. Maybe they could have saved it by executing it better but it just consistently goes over the top. Maybe he was lesser of all evils but I kind of liked Tim Roth.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park II(1997): I might have seen it in parts before but it definitely was my first viewing from start to end. I don't know how I didn't see it before but now that I have seen it I am wondering what made me sit down and watch it this time? At least once the two teams get together and shit hits the fan, things got somewhat better. It was otherwise so bland, so predictable. Even the way the scenes were set up was a clear indication of whats to come next. That's lazy!

Total Count: 20. 17 First Time Watches and 3 Re-watches .

2013 YTD Count
Total Count: 197. 180 First Time Watches and 17 Re-watches.

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


  1. Love that Broadcast News tops here. That movie is just damn perfect. Don't worry for not having seen it sooner. At least you SAW it!

    1. Well, that's always a relief! Glad to know you love it as well.

  2. Looks like you had a good month! woah, 150 films, you must have a lot of suitcases :)

    Broadcast News(1987) : Glad you loved it! For me the memorable scenes are when Albert Brooks is sweating, and also William Hurt anchoring by being told in his ear what to say. The ending of movie was a surprise to me, quite unexpected.

    The Hunt (2013) Agree. To me, it kind of feels like our generation's M (1931)

    Zombieland : quotable dialogue and fun tongue-in-cheek performances. The rules on how to survive the zombie apocalypse was a nice idea. Cult classic potential.

    The Conjuring: You are another blogger who enjoyed it. I'm beginning to feel I'm on my own finding it boring.

    Sweet Smell of Success(1957) Surprisingly this classic didn't do much for me. I could tell what the ending would be from the get-go. Well-written dialogue, and impressive performances, though. Have you seen The Tarnished Angels (1957) ?-Douglas Sirk sometimes gets overlooked, I really liked it.

    In the Name of the Father(1993) One of my favorites. Postlethwaite was amazing in this

    Whisper of the Heart(1995): the ending was a bit rushed, but overall I really liked the atmosphere. I didn't have problems with the students.

    Somewhere(2010) I honestly don't remember the ending. Just love the soundtrack.

    1. Haha! I actually sent them ahead. :)

      Broadcast News: That ending surprised me too but I am much more at peace with it with more time passes. Most memorable thing for me would be Holly Hunter's crying. Maybe I shouldn't say this but that was hilarious!

      The Hunt: You know what? I have never seen M. :P

      Zombieland: It's such a fun movie. I think it can be a cult-classic too.

      The Conjuring: Yeah, I saw that in your horror mini-reviews post. I am sorry but I actually thought it was very different from the usual jump horrors.

      Sweet Smell of Success: I understand you completely. Even I knew where it was going but I could enjoy the trip because of the performances and dialogue. I haven't even heard of it. I'll look it up. Thanks!

      In the Name of the Father: He was soo good! Loved him.

      Whisper of the Heart: Yeah. I think you are right about that.

      Somewhere: I wish i could explain it to you but as I said, I have no idea what was happening. :P

      Not a bad month at all. Thanks, Chris!

  3. Glad you loved Broadcast News, and it's great that you still dig The Dark Knight Rises. :) It's interesting that you feel that way about Somewhere. I need to rewatch it, but the ending is one of my favorite parts of the film. For me, it's the perfect way to end the story. At the beginning of the film, Johnny is going nowhere, literally in circles. By the end, he's actually headed somewhere. It works for me, but I can see why it might not be for everyone.

    1. Nolan Forever, Man!! :D

      I am not even sure how to interpret that. Plus, it literally comes out of nowhere. I was hoping for like half an hour more of film and it just ended on me. Maybe it will make more sense next time. Lets see.

  4. So good to see Nausicaa, The Conjuring and The Hunt got good ratings :) I disagree with you on 'In the Heat of the Night' though. I personally would give it 5 Stars (I love it dearly). I also love The Searchers, but it's definitely not the best Western ever (I think High Noon or The Good/Bad/Ugly should get that title). As for The Hobbit, I'm also a bit annoyed that Jackson added so much unnecessary bits to it, but I still enjoyed it immensely.

    You're seeing some great films every month. I might have to borrow some DVD's :) haha

    1. You are certainly not alone in liking In the Heat... Over this week, I have heard from at least 3 others who loved it but maybe I missed something. The Conjuring and Hunt are garnering quite a praise over most of the blogosphere. I wasn't going to be the one left behind. :)

      I gladly would but I suppose postage would cost more than the prize. :)


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