Saturday, May 31, 2014

Wrapping it up: May

Another month, another wrap-up post full of this month's viewings. Not much to add here so lets get to the movies of this month...


Departures(2008): I had never heard of this film for a long time and I probably never would've if I didn't go digging into Best Foreign Film winners list but I am so glad I did because this is a beautiful film. It's about a rather unpleasant business - a guy working as encoffineer, preparing dead for funerals and it easily could have been very sad or disturbing. But most of it is rather funny and all of it is a delicate and touching story. I kept on thinking that something will go wrong or might get weird at some point but it was so beautifully handled that it warmed my heart.

Day for Night(1973): I haven't been a big fan of either Godard or Trauffaut. Godard is bit better; at least there are couple I can say I like. As for Trauffaut, I have only seen three but I found even getting through two of them to be a task. Things they do never seemed anything more than gimmicky to me. And first film I see them going back to almost conventional film making is one I like almost unconditionally. Lot of people consider it to be the best film about films. Well, it is no 8 1/2(1963) but it is still a damn fine competition. And Jacqueline Bisset looks divine!

Do the Right Thing(1989): I haven't seen many of Spike Lee's films but his films come with a specific agenda and he tries too hard to shove it down our throat. This one is bit different because here he only gives us a perspective. That's the best thing you can do - leave a viewer with perspective and let him take choose a side. Another thing I like here is Sal is a nuanced, well developed character. Probably the most developed and that makes what goes down even more troubling. I respect this film for making me introspect many such things.

In a Lonely Place(1950): I have never seen a Nicholas Ray film before but I have a reason for it - I usually have problem liking stories with despicable lead, however good story might be. And his movies are known to be sympathetic of his troubled leads. This film, which I had heard a lot about and hence was anticipating it quite highly, however, proved to be an exception. Probably because it never sugarcoats how troubled Bogart's Dixon Steele is. And mystery that comes with is what makes it worth it.

End of Watch(2013): I came back from a wedding that day and didn't want to watch anything overly dramatic. I chose this because from what I knew, this felt like a lighter choice. I was completely wrong but I loved this one. So I am happy, I finally saw it. Right from the way it is shot, it is very different and I loved the path this story takes. Both Gyllenhaal and Pena make it even better and if anyone doesn't already know or has forgotten, let me remind everyone. Anna Kendrick. She. Is. Awesome!

Highway(2014)(Hindi): Randeep Hooda isn't bad, certainly not as bad as I thought he would be but lets admit - this was Alia Bhatt show. She looked really good in 2 States(2014) promos as well but there is no chance in seven hells that I am going anywhere near that film. So I will be content with judging her from this. She fell short in the most important couple of scenes at the end, yes, but I think she did a good job for the rest of it. And this is just her 2nd movie, man! Who knows, maybe one day with little more experience, she will even own those scenes as well.

Safety Last(1923): This month's Blind Spot. As I mentioned in the post, Lloyd is the last of classic comedians I was exposed to. About year and half ago was the first time I heard his mention in relation to Safety Last and that iconic climb of Bolton building in the end. First of all, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it got over. It's just 70 minutes long and secondly, even though Mark Harris does mention this in his documentary, I was rather surprised by how much time it gives to that climb.

Nashville(1975): I have seen a few Altman films by now to know about his style of large ensemble pieces and multiple overlapping story lines. There is no doubt that he can handle them really well and he does it here as well. I like what he does with this one, handling multiple aspect of this city at once - political, musical, personal - from multiple point of views. But I still feel like I haven't really 'got' this. I am not sure if there is supposed to be something common, other than Nashville off course, that brings them together. Is there anything Altman trying to tell us?

Paris, je t'aime(2006): I have been meaning to watch this one for too long. My only real complaint is they were too short; some because I really wanted to see more of and some because I felt like nothing happened at all. Gurinder Chadda, Coen Brothers, Wes Craven, Cuaron and Isabel Coixet fall in first, Bruno Podalydes, Christopher Doyle, Vincent Natalie and Chomet in second. But the real star was Margo Martindale. Sure, Payne deserves part of credit but what she was able to do just with her eyes was incredible!

The Counterfeiters(2007): Another one of films I had not even heard of until I picked it up watch from Best Foreign Film winners list. Another reason I chose this over others was I always feel like I haven't seen many German films. It's rather strange - I probably have seen most of the notable ones and there are many more languages I have seen less films in than German, I am sure, but for some reason I always like that about German films. None other! It was a good film to check out from both the lists, that's for sure.

Ninotchka(1939): Billy Wilder is one of my absolute favourite directors and obviously most of it is due to his astute writing. Since he considered Ernst Lubitsch to be his Guru in that area, I was pretty excited to watch some of Lubitsch's own movies. I did go for one of his best films or well-known films to start off but he did not disappoint me. Having Wilder himself with him writing for him might have helped as well. It was little simplistic perhaps but it is such a beautiful and heartfelt story.

All That Jazz(1979): First of Bob Fosse's duo I wish check off the list. I chose this over Cabaret(1972) just because it won Palme d'Or and Cannes was this month. It was really good. Sure, lot of them appeared in second half but at least earlier, most numbers were blended so well, I didn't even realize it was a musical. Second half dragged a lot once it starts going down or it would have been a bracket higher. I don't know anything about Fosse himself but I like that despite being such a dick, at least he can be so self critical.

A Serious Man(2009): Have you ever liked a film but hated every single character in it? It might be Coen Brothers doing their thing and doing it quite well but I think I just did. Coens have always at there best when they are handling dark comediy but this is completely another level of it. There was not a single character in this film that I wouldn't love to beat the living shit out of, including Larry Gopnik, but I think this polarizing reaction is what Coens must be going for because they never try to dial it down for even 1 minute. 


A Place in the Sun(1951): After watching An American in Paris(1951) last month, I checked out it's competition this month and though I had problems with this one as well, there is no denying that this was far superior than less than ordinary Best Picture winner. I liked it quite a bit but my only problem with the film was it felt like running on little below full throttle. Every time it seemed like reaching its peak, it would lose its steam and settle on idling mode. I usually love Liz Taylor but she mostly felt like wasted here.

Cheap Thrills(2014): I actually do not have a whole lot to say about this film. It seems to be sort of medium budget indie film that started with an idea that looked great. It keeps on climbing till the end and that part was interesting enough though it did gross me halfway through. And when it does aim for the peak in the end but for some reason, it didn't really hit me hard enough, or at all for that matter. The 3 pointer buzzer beater to win it all was just an air ball for me. NBA Playoffs are going on right now. So I think you will allow me that reference.

Out of Sight(1998): There are many things I liked about this film, like great chemistry between George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez that hardly anyone ever talks about, and there is only one thing that I have problem with but it kept me bugging throughout this film. I have problem with sort of minimalist presentation of this film. I am pretty sure that is exactly what Soderbergh was going for as I was reminded of Haywire(2011) time and again but it kept me taking out of the film. Anyone will tell you that's never a good thing!

Godzilla(2014): It was exactly what I expected it to be. I wasn't expecting story to make whole lot of sense. Hell, even to have someone that resembles it would asking be a lot. I wasn't expecting any high class acting, though Elizabeth Olsen did stand out especially against Aaron Taylor Johnson who looked like he had no clue why he's there, or much else for that matter. All I wanted was none of it to suck too hard and a visual treat. Some thrills would be nice too! And it delivered all of that. Last big fight was so bitching, I loved it!


The Lego Movie(2014): The only thing I can say about this film, I guess, is it so wasn't for me. I never got into this movie for even a second. Checking your watch every two minutes gets really boring after a while. I know there are many people who liked this movie a lot, all age groups alike and it got lot of praise at the tile of its release but it was too childish and superficial for my taste. I literally started rolling my eyes in first 5 minutes and it only got worse; so much that there was serious danger of it being first film I walked out on.

Total Count: 18. 18 First Time Watches and 0 Re-watch .

2014 YTD Count
Total Count: 87. 80 First Time Watches and 7 Re-watches.

Considering it was another hectic month away fro this blog, I am quite happy with the tally for this month. If it was anything, it was a month of themed weekends. Almost all the weekends of this month, I went on small binges with some theme in mind. First, I saw three 2014 films in a week. Next week was Best Foreign film Oscar winners which, with inclusion of Departures and Day for Night, was definitely the most successful of all binges. Third was rather unsuccessful but I was planning on watching Palme d'Or winners because of the Cannes film festival that took place this month but all I managed was All That Jazz. I gave up on watching Underground(1995) after couple of attempts were interrupted multiple times.

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


  1. Lego Movie: the pop-culture parody was mildly entertaining in places, but even so, I find it overpraised. Hurt my enjoyment it's like a commercial, trying to fit in as much of the lego universe as possible. I guess the animation is impressive. The storyline we have seem before, of the chosen one, but I liked the idea that you should find something unique to define yourself by. I gave the film 3/5
    A Place in the Sun: wowed me, and is in my top 100, that's a pity you didn't like it more.
    Paris, je t'aime: Agree Margo Martindale was great, my favorite part of the movie.
    Your question about Nashville. I read "Altman on Altman", and he says he asked writer to get on a plane and go to Nashville, and just keep a diary of what happens to her.And from that write movie. He said it was about the incredible ambition of those guys getting off the bus with a guitar every day, and like in Hollywood, trying to make it. Altman said about the ending: "Shit happens, and life goes on. We don’t take any kind of lessons from these events. We accept whatever has occurred because it occurred". Altman also said "I was satirizing them".

    1. Lego Movie: I guess I was too bored by it to go any deeper into it.
      A Place in the Sun: It really is a pity. I know many people who love that film.
      Paris, je t'aime: She was rally good!
      It was obvious he was satirizing them but I thought that collage of stories as a whole might represent something bigger. I loved the film but there was a sort of feeling like I am missing something afterwards.

  2. Bummer to hear you didn't enjoy Out of Sight that much. I was sold from the opening scene, and I loved the nonlinear narrative (even though it was kind of Tarantino-lite at times). Probably my favorite Soderbergh film.

    Godzilla was disappointing for me because I think I went into it with too high of expectations. It was frustrating to spend so much time with human characters that meant absolutely nothing in the end. It also wasted such a great cast.

    Your reaction to The Lego Movie is kind of what I expect mine to be (though I hope I enjoy it). I will watch it someday, but yeah, I really struggle with modern animated films like that.

    1. I liked Out of Sight in general but his presentation was somehow distracting to me. Like I kept wondering why is he doing certain things in a certain way all the time rather than just watching a film. So far, my favourite has been Sex, Lies and Videotapes.

      Hey, I am not going to sell Godzilla to you. I know it is nowhere near great film. I went in expecting exactly what it was and was happy to have got that. And yes, they certainly wasted great cast but then since when a disaster blockbuster films have been about star casts, right?

      Well, give Lego movie a chance. You might even like it better now that your expectations are almost nil. :)

  3. You know, I still haven’t seen Departures. I need to fix that. Day for Night is one of my all-time faves. So happy you liked it.

    Really bummed A Place in the Sun didn’t resonate with you more. I love everything about that movie. Movies like that simply weren’t made in ’51. It really did change things. But hey, we like what we like!

    1. You certainly need to see Departures, Man! I hope you like it just as much.

      I know you love that film and that was one of the reasons I really wanted to see it. I am sure it would mean more if we see it with its period takes into consideration and I certainly can respect that. But, as you said, we like what we like. :)


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