Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wrapping it up: July

Another month, another wrap-up post full of this month's viewings. Lets not waste any time with pleasantries here. Let me get straight to what we are here for. To the movies of this month...


Memories of Murder(2003): Granted, I don't know a whole lot about Korean cinema but I must have seen about 15-20 films, most of them acclaimed at International stage for some or the other reason. Most of them are really good in their own fucked up way but I think this has to be the best one of them all. This is an extremely frustrating movie in a way Zodiac(2007) was but just like it, a really good one. I was feeling every up and down of their investigation in my gut. I am also glad that this was my 100th new to me movie of the year.

Touch of Evil(1958): I haven't seen many Orsen Welles films. Only 2 before this one but I like this one more than other two put together and that includes Citizen Kane(1941). I loved how it sets up the whole story in first 5 minutes and loved how it unfolds till the end and how despicable Hank Quinlan gets by the end even more. It is one of those films I needed a happy ending to because I hated Quinlan completely. I couldn't have bared a thought of him getting away with everything.  

Under the Skin(2014): I feel like I appreciated this one lot more than I actually liked it and that is despite me liking it well enough. I haven't seen most of Jonathan Glazer's work but looking at it from outside, they don't look easily accessible. Neither is this one. I would say that this was one of the best movie watching experiences I had. While it was quite different and still kept me interested till the end, there were many things in the film that I wasn't exactly sure of. Maybe that is the biggest allure of this film.

Nymphomaniac: Vol I(2014): With the notable exception of probably only Shame(2011), I usually can not see beyond sexually oriented films as anything but. Nymphomaniac was another exception. Like most of von Trier's films, it was slow and rather monotonous narratively but for once it felt like von Trier's extremism was put to good use here as it felt about so much more than just sex. It was about love, loss, loneliness and lust. And Stacy Martin gets naked A LOT but is absolute revelation.

Jalsaghar(1958): This month's Blind Spot and my re-introduction to Satyajit Ray's filmography after I saw Apu trilogy about two years ago. First two installments of Apu Trilogy were first two films Ray ever did and this one was third. It is really hard to believe that when you see how well thought, how well crafted all this movies are. Why wouldn't he make a film if he had such a clear vision of what he wanted? I am not sure if we will know answer to that question but we can only consider ourselves lucky that he did. 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes(2014): I am actually very torn on this one and I fully expect this rating to drop as the year goes by. On one hand, I think this is a great blockbuster mainly for its technical achievement but at the same time, it also feels very stifled by being a mere blockbuster. It feels like it had chance at greatness, if they worked a bit on making screenplay a little less cliched. It looked great on screen to see them get there but I always knew where this was going.

Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani(2013)(Hindi)(Re-watch): Lets just take a moment to contemplate scarcity of the situation here. I have not only re-watched a film, it is a Hindi film. Last time that happened must have been back in... I don't even remember. But this film, for me, is a living proof of you don't have to be out of the box to make it good. This tells me that you can still take a same old story and make it worth audiences' time. All that matters is doing it well and Ayan Mukharjee proved once again that he certainly can.

Bad Neighbours(2014): I will freely admit that I was not much excited for this film. I am not the biggest fan of Seth Rogen, I really think that Rose Byrne is much better than comedies she keeps appearing in and neither Franco Jr. nor Zac Efron have any traction for me. I only saw this because a lot of people liked it and surprisingly, I quite enjoyed it. It was exactly what I expected it to be but thankfully, it never went overboard or even get corny, though I could have done without Jimmy and Paula's overacting. 

You're Next(2011): It was one of those films you randomly put on and keep on watching just because you feel like it. Even this is quite a rarity for me but not as rare as recent Bollywood film re-watch. I wasn't feeling much while the family stuff was happening around. It felt rather contrived. But once they got to killings, aka part where most films feel same old again, it became quite awesome. And now we know that Sharni Vinson can dance and fight. Hopefully, she will soon get to serious acting.

Batman(1989): This is first Batman film I have seen outside of Nolan trilogy. So I am sorry if I unfairly compare all Batman films to them but that's literally the only reference point I have. I wouldn't say I loved this film but there was almost nothing about this film that I didn't like. It is very '90s but I don't see there was any other way to it. It isn't great either but I blame Nolan for getting my expectations sky high. And I also see where Nolan got his inspiration for a lot of The Dark Knight(2008) Stuff. 

The Dirty Picture(2011)(Hindi): Like Dawn, I haven't really decided whether to like this one or hate it. It can go either way. There is some sort of rawness to this film which, if done purposely is a good thing but, I am not exactly sure is there consciously. My biggest problem is Emraan Hashmi's acting in this film is better than Nasseruddin Shah's. That would require an exceptionally incompetent director. Vidya Balan, on the other hand, was absolutely on fire, though she made me uncomfortable at various times.

Divergent(2014): In my opinion, biggest hurdle this movie had to face was to get out of it's identity as other The Hunger Games(2012) because as much as someone might want to deny it, it is obvious that this is an attempt to reap the fruits of recent YA craze. Frankly, I am sure book might have a lot more background to set up this dystopian world properly which would be crucial to get you interested and it is not a bad film but this doesn't offer much beyond usual. And ending feels really rushed.

The Amazing Spider Man 2(2014): Despite being a sequel of a franchise that didn't really need a revival so soon, I was down for this one from start for two reasons. One, I quite liked first one and more importantly, second, Emma Stone. I think biggest problem with this film is its mediocrity from start to end. It is not really bad but it is really not good either and sometimes that's worst thing you can do. There were aspects of it that I liked but most of it never went anywhere interesting. Plus that ending means I have no reason at all to look forward to third one.

The Double(2014): I can take weird movies. I can go on watching them even if I have no idea what's happening in it. I didn't know what was happening in Under the Skin most of the time but I not only kept watching it, I gave it 4 stars above. But it loses me when I get bored of it in between and in that sense Richard Ayoade's latest lost me completely around half way line. I was so out of it that when the climatic moment came, I didn't care for it at all. I don't even remember it less than 10 days after watching it.

The Raid 2: Barandal(2014): I really did not care for it. It had few decent fights but it was more gory, cringe worthy than exciting for my taste. I think first one worked much better because of it's hand fights that wowed me. What wowed me here was incompetence of all the actors involved. Gareth Evans goes way over the top way too often and while I can give him credit for finding disturbingly creative ways to hack people into pieces, all it really did was turn me off. Plus, first had at least believable presence of story. This one is wafer thin at best.

Total Count: 15. 14 First Time Watches and 1 Re-watch.

2014 YTD Count
Total Count: 117. 109 First Time Watches and 8 Re-watches.

For no apparent reason, I went on mini-binge of watching 2014 movies this month. It is mostly because some of them are late to get here and some released earlier this year are available otherwise. I am still surprised by how much I liked Nymphomaniac and I have only seen 18 so far but it is leading the pack currently. I want to part 2 as soon as I can, while part 1 is still fresh in my mind. Otherwise, it would be business as usual.

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


  1. Shantanu, you seem to be on a role... 100+ films in a year is no mean feat... not to mention, the range of movies that you usually cover. Keep up the good work!!!

    Btw, I too love Touch of Evil... it's my third favorite Welles film... after Citizen Kane (I know you don't seem to rate it too highly and, this time around, I think I aware of the reason... it's closer to those somewhat abstract and cold films that you are not greatly fond of... like the ones we generally associate with Kubrick and Malick) and F for Fake (highly recommended, if you haven't already... but, I have a feeling that you may not like it as much as I do). For the record, The Trial and The Lady from Shanghai are among my top 5 Welles films.

    Also, I am glad that you liked Nymphomaniac: Vol 1 a lot... Vol 2 is much grimmer and darker. You can read my combined review here (please do share your thoughts):

    1. Hey Murtaza! Long time no see, man! and Thanks! :)

      I will get to F for Fake eventually. It's in 1001 movies list. So I will. Lets see how I like it. I have been a bit busy these days but I'll definitely look through your Nymphomaniac review later. Thanks for the link. :)

  2. I'm with you on Touch of Evil. I was hooked from the opening scene and its epic tracking shot. I know we're in the minority, but I also give it the edge over Citizen Kane.

    Also agreed on Under the Skin. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it, but I was engaged for every second.

    You're Next did nothing for me until Vinson started fighting back. Loved the ending, too.

    1. I know I have said this many times before but I have to say it again.

      Sometimes you make me wonder if you really exist. How can someone have exactly same opinion as mine on so many movies? Do you? Really? :D

    2. Hahaha, well I found a movie we disagree on. I just watched The Raid 2 a couple days ago and I loved it. Big step-up from the original, in my opinion.

  3. Batman(1989) is a childhood favorite of mine, so I can't really be objective about its qualities. I love the look of the film, how the buildings reach up into the sky. Actually won an oscar for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration.

    The Double (2014) is one of my favorites of 2014. I agree it doesn't all make sense, but I think that's why it intrigued me.

    Thrilled you enjoyed Under the Skin, it's popular in our little corner of the blogosphere, right? :) I'm certainly going to check out Jonathan Glazer's other work at some point.

    1. I do not blame you at all for this. There are few films I can not be objective about as well. So I get it. :)

      I am interested in Glazer's other work as well but to tell you the truth, it looks like you will have to get into certain mindset before getting into his films. Having a little background known might help in this. Glad you like The Double but unfortunately I could not get into it.


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