Monday, March 31, 2014

Wrapping it Up: March

Another month, another wrap-up post full of this month's viewings. I spent most of March trying to wrap 2013. It involved multiple lists like my Favourite Performances - Male and Female and most importantly, Favourite Films of 2013. Take a look, if you haven't already and then we can head on to month at hand.


Inception(2010)(Re-watch): So I was watching Bull Durham the other day(more about it little down the line) and in it there is a scene where Tim Robbins tells Susan Sarandon to open the door, that he knows she is in there as he can hear 'that weird Mexican lady' singing. And she is listening to is 'Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien'. Generally I wouldn't know shit about stuff like this but in this case, I instantly went "That's Edith Piaf and she is French! Everyone knows that!" That's enough of a reason to watch your all-time favourite, right?

The Social Network(2010)(Re-watch): Another personal favourite I had not watched in over a year, almost two. I was almost beginning to forget lot of its dialogues. After Inception, I had to watch this as well. There are handful of others that contribute as well but these two films are principal reason that I think you can make a strong case for 2010 being one of the best years of decade so far for cinema. It is certainly not better than 2007 but it can certainly be close behind. 

Diabolique(1955): Blind Spot of this month which turned out to be one of the Best films I have seen for this series so far and I have seen a few notable films. Best thing about this film was the way Clouzot keeps on building the tension till the end. Come to think of it, the way this film ends should not be as surprising as it was. There are only a couple of ways it could and it does go that way. But there is something going on constantly that is so interesting that it never gives you time to stop and think about it. And then ending drops!   

30 For 30: Survive and Advance(2013): ESPN probably should stop calling it 30 for 30 because I am pretty sure I have seen about 35 of them by now. I am not complaining because they always fascinate me but it's rather odd that there are 35+ 30 for 30 docs, right? Like all other documentaries, Survive and Advance is an incredible story of one team achieving the impossible. As fascinating as they are, I only fear falling down this pit again, watching as many as I can on binge. I saw a dozen first time I did that.

M(1931): Did anyone else confuse it with Touch of Evil(1958) or was it just me? I don't know why, mostly because I saw Peter Lorre in the poster looking behind and thought he was Orsen Welles. To make matters a little more confusing, M had the dubious honour of being the highest ranked film on IMDb Top 250 I had not seen. Now baton has been passed to Touch of Evil. It is probably to be expected of a 1931 film but it was little jarring technically but I love how well it captures mentality of the whole society and how little hasn't it changed over the years.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington(1939): I feel like I have watched what could be, or rather should be, Aaron Sorkin's favourite film. This sort of overly idealistic political world we see in his series is probably something we all would love to live in but know for certain will not be possible in million years. I know something like The West Wing(1999) is just a right wing patriot's political fantasy and I still like it. Mr. Smith also treads on similar waters and I like it too but mainly because Claude Rains, Jean Arthur and Jimmy Stewart's usual earnestness.

In a Better World(2010): With Marty this month, now I have seen 69 Best Picture winners. You know how many Best Foreign Film winners I have seen? 23. Including this. I am going to go after remaining Best Picture winners for now but after that, I will have another goal. As for the film, all I knew about it was it beat Incendies(2010), my favourite film of 2010, for that Oscar. Did I think it was better than Incendies? No way! But I can't hold that against it either as it was quite good. Depressing as hell but good film.

Laura(1944): Probably not one of the most well-known noirs but I certainly had heard a lot about this film before. Almost halfway into the film and I wasn't really feeling it but then it put a spin on it. And even though I saw the end coming before, it only got better from there. It is probably one of the early noirs where not all the tropes were stone etched but I like the way it plays with genre itself. You get murder, shady characters, low key lighting but key ingredient is femme fatale and Laura isn't your typical femme fatale, is she?

The Wild Bunch(1969): So after Marty, I had an impromptu Ernest Borgnine double feature one day with this one. Though it isn't as much Borgnine vehicle as Marty is, watching him play these two so different roles in a day was so worth it. It's a typical Western! Everything and anything you think of when someone says the word 'Western', you will find it here. But it's one of those who just get it right. It's long, it's slow, it's stylish and it's beautiful, intriguing and interesting. Plus, any movie that can pull off that ending wins in my book!

Lust, Caution(2007): What I am going to say next is going to sound stupid but I am going to say it anyways. I know Ang Lee is Chinese, Taiwanese to be more precise, and this is not his first Chinese production I saw but I am always surprised to see how authentically Chinese movies are. Ideally I should be surprised at how authentically American his films appear but since that is how I was introduced to him as a director, it doesn't. Lust, Caution has good story, great leads but what I was more impressed with is everything that gives it authentic Chinese feel.

Bull Durham(1988): I don't like Baseball. I now basics of it but it gets boring to sit and watch. I always thought that would be a problem when I'd watch baseball movies. Surprisingly, I have seen quite a few and have enjoyed them to varying degrees. This would probably count as one of the bests. They rarely make us sit through 9 innings of game, up and down and human stories of it is what attracts us viewers more anyway. Better those human stories are, better the film. And it also helps when actors bring their A-Game like Susan Sanrandon does here. She was on Fire!

To Die For(1995): I did not know much about this film apart from Nicole Kidman is in it and for whom I have heard a lot of praises. She certainly was every bit worth it but to me, Gus Van Sant was as much hero of this film for me as Kidman was. Off course, it's Kidman's show and she never drops the ball for even a second but Van Sant's presentation of this film - everyone is talking straight to us as if they are being interviewed by someone - was certainly intriguing and made it a further more interesting.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade(1989): Funny thing about it is I had two almost polorising experiences watching this film. Initially, I was taking it too seriously. It involved a lot of rolling my eyes and shaking my head. But just about when Sean Connery enters, I realized film itself isn't. Why should I? It almost instantly became better. It was a fun, action film and when I looked at it as just that, I really enjoyed it. I might even go back to Raiders and watch it again because, wait for it..., I didn't really care for it the first time. Now that I know how to enjoy them, I just might like it better.

Notes on a Scandal(2006): A forewarning, this will venture into spoilers territories. I am not sure why but I was sort of underwhelmed by this film. If it wasn't for Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, who BTW looks radiant in this film, I probably would have liked it much less. I guess, I was irked by the dynamics of story - Blanchett, cheating on her husband with her student, a 15 year old boy, and Dench, constantly seeking companionship of a woman much younger than her. And I never got over it.

Julia(1977): There were many female-oriented films I saw this month. Julia was one I saw on Women's Day and I wish I had more positive things to say about it but I don't. I didn't 'not' like it but it was told in such a way that I never really found it interesting. Actual story certainly was; storytelling of it wasn't. Even contrast between Jane Fonda's character and Redgrave's, something Zinnemann must be going for, came off as little off putting. I guess he was going for bleak since original story is so grim but it came to me as little too cold.

Marty(1955): As I said earlier, this is my 69th Best Picture Winner. As a film, it was very charming and easy-going film and Ernest Borgnine was really good in his simple, straight forward everyday man role. As a Best Picture winner, it feels too lightweight, like The Artist(2011). There is no such rule that it has to be heavy, meaningful film to be the best of the year but it is hard to imagine that there was no other film that would represent 1955 better than Marty. Another one that suffers just being an Oscar winner, I guess!

The Mist(2007): This one goes into 'The shit you see on TV' category though it wasn't all that shitty for a couple of reasons. Probably the most important reason was Marcia Gay Harden. She played a character I absolutely loathed and I love that she played it so beautifully to get that reaction out of me. Second is its ending. I knew where it was going but I still like the way it took to get there. It is not some sort of ground breaking, trend setting horror film or anything but it certainly is a generic but above par thriller.

Noah(2014): The month I close books on 2013, I open new log for 2014 with Noah. My first 2014 released film. I know we are already three month into the year but, hey, we are still getting the Oscar releases here. I am actually not sure what do I think about this as a whole. There are parts of it I liked but there are parts, as good as they were, which I felt were completely unnecessary. Aronofsky's films usually are cold and brutal but they usually leave us with some strong emotion. Noah didn't.

Total Count: 18. 16 First Time Watches and 2 Re-watch .

2014 YTD Count
Total Count: 53. 48 First Time Watches and 5 Re-watches.

It is certainly not the most productive month I have had, only 18 films. But I think it could be my best month in terms of quality of films I have seen. I usually have most number of films in 3 and 3 and 1/2 bucket. This month it's predominantly 3 and 1/2; almost 50% movies have come from that. And there are couple of movies each in 4 stars and even 4 and 1/2 stars range which is becoming more and more rare. And even those with 3 stars aren't much inferior at all. I feel like saying something like Tarantino. If The Mist is the worst film I have seen all month, I think I will take that month over any other.

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


  1. Glad you liked To Die For! It remains my favorite work from Kidman and I adore the dark humor in the movie. Illeana Douglas was also wonderful in that one.

    1. Once again, Thanks for reminding me! Kidman truly was amazing in that film.

  2. "2010 being one of the best years of decade so far for cinema". I can see why that would be true for you with Inception and Social Network rated so highly here. For me 2010 was strong for Mike Leigh's "Another Year", which is in my top 20 of all-time. And I'm thinking Sati is also onboard for praising 2010, since Black Swan is her fav film!

    I didn't confuse M (1931) with Touch of Evil. To me, M is pretty similar thematically to Vinterberg's The Hunt.
    Incendies(2010) should have beaten Bier's In A Better World, I agree.
    I rated The Wild Bunch 9/10 on letterboxd, I think it's one of the best westerns.Mr. Smith Goes to Washington(1939) I would also give a 9/10. I guess both impressed me more than they did you.

    1. Ok. I will confess to another confusion. Another Year is the one with Jim Broadbent, right? I borrowed it once from a Library and then realised what I wanted to see was Another Earth. So returned it. :P

      I certainly appreciate Mr. Smith goes to Washington. But to tell you the truth, after 7 seasons of The West Wing and 2 of The Newsroom, that political idealism gets sort of overwhelming. Or I am just too cynical. :)

  3. Great month of films! M is one of my all-time favorites, so I'm glad you finally saw it. I grew up loving Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Glad you enjoyed it man.

    You really should check out Another Year by the way. It's a great film. ;)

    1. Thanks! I am glad I saw M too. And as for Another Year, I will make sure I will check out the right one this time. :)


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