Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Wrapping It Up: October

Another month, another wrap-up post full of this month's viewings. Let us get on to the movies of this month...

October



Saving Private Ryan(1998)(Re-watch): I have seen this one quite a few times already but this was probably the longest between my two watches. It is one of those movies that every time I see, I find someone knew I didn't know was in this film. This time it was Paul Giamatti who I completely forgot was in it. But it still awes me as much it did the first time I saw it. Yes, it's little too on the nose sometimes, like that ending, but that's Spielberg for you. And there is more than enough pathos in it to help me turn a blind eye towards such moments. And it makes me want to see The Thin Red Line(1998) again even more.



Haider(2014)(Hindi): Third installment of Vishal Bharadwaj's Shakespeare adaptations trilogy. What Bharadwaj has succeeded in doing in this trilogy is translate these stories beautifully to Indian backgrounds while keeping Shakespearean core of each intact. Bismil song in this film which replaces play in Hamlet, re-enacting his father's death, is prime example of this. He has achieved same effect with something intrinsically Indian and, if you ask me, that was easily the best part of the whole film. Bharadwaj has always been one of my favorite Indian directors and he once again demonstrates why.

Infernal Affairs(2002): The Departed(2006) is one of my favourite films. If I am not wrong, it was my first Scorsese film and still remains to be the best piece of ensemble acting I have seen. Infernal Affairs had been on my watch list since knowing Scorsese adapted his film from this one. Now I can see that The Departed had a solid base to build on. This one here is very smart film. It is relentless and equally well acted. However, best thing I can say about it is it's still an exhilarating watch despite knowing what's coming next.

La Haine(1995): Have you ever had a lingering feeling that something terrible is going to happen? You keep on thinking it's about to for a long time and it never does and then you let your guard fall for a second and it hits you right then. That was me watching La Haine. Given the way it starts, at every turn I kept expecting something terrible to befall. It never did, not really and just when I thought nothing would happen now - BOOM! It's such a beautiful film though - B&W, episodic, great flow, very natural acting, little abstract but always palpable.



Nowhere in Africa(2001): This is one of those films that if it had not won Foreign film Oscar, forget about watching it, I wouldn't have even known about this. I don't know about how it was received in 2001 but if feels like a kind of movie that not many people would know about. My first impression of this film was this is sort of Out of Africa(1985), because it is based in Africa, + Days of Heaven(1978) because of look and feel of this film. Only difference is I was indifferent at best towards either of these films and I liked this one quite a bit.

City Lights(2014)(Hindi): Not to be confused with Chaplin classic, this is a Hindi movie released earlier this year with same name. I saw this after watching Shahid(2012) last month which was first collaboration of actor-director combo of Rajkumar Rao and Hansal Mehta and was very much revered critically as well. It reminded me of Babel(2006) because just like it, nothing remotely nice happens to anyone in this film. As a movie lover, I can appreciate it on many levels but it really gets overbearing after a while. I don't think I'll came back to it anytime soon.

Dracula(1931): As has been my tradition, if you can call something I have done twice in a row a tradition, I chose a classic horror as this month's blind spot entry in honor of Halloween. This might come as a surprise but I have been mostly uninitialized to this piece of classic literature. There must be countless versions of it now but I have seen Nosferatu(1922) and that is as far as my initiation to this world goes. And what could be better place to start than this classic. What I can say is for a film made in 1931, it works remarkably well today.

A Most Wanted Man(2014): Since last year, I was very interested in watching this film just based on political nature of its plot and I am very glad that it didn't disappoint. If you don't like political thrillers you might find this one sleep inducing because this is a sort of film that runs on single speed, never picks up except in the end. But they have always interested me. And it still hurts to see PSH on screen, even more so because he is amazing in this film. The way he just lets it go in the last seen is really something, especially since he is so controlled otherwise.


The Last Temptation of Christ(1988): This was first of 3 films almost three hour long films I saw in a week. Other two were 2 films right below. Curious thing with Last Temptation is on one hand, I am really intrigued by the path it takes after Jesus' crucifixion(I am guessing that is where all the controversy surrounding it was). And on the other, other biblical aspects of his life - him turning water into wine, resurrecting dead person - really turned me off. And at the risk of starting another controversy, I don't think I would've like him at that time. He was too ostentatious.

Spartacus(1960): This was another example of a film that I would be much more in love with had it been about an hour less in run time. I was never bored while watching it, on the other hand I appreciate quite a few things in it, but I seriously cannot comprehend why does it had to be as long as it was. There really was not enough content in it to justify that length. I know Kubrick was just a for-hire vehicle here but I have this problem with some of his most acclaimed works as well - they are almost twice as long as they have any business to be.

Heaven's Gate(1980): One of the notoriously famous film for all the wrong reasons. I didn't really like it much but I found it to be better than I expected based on its status as one of the worst flops of cinema. I might sound like a broken record here but my biggest problem with this was it's run time. Any film with a run time 0f over 200 minutes will have its dull period but in this case, it was almost first full hour where I was never sure of what the hell is happening. It sort of picks up later on but damage is already done. 

King Kong(1933): Just like Dracula above, I think this also works remarkably well for a film made in 31. Early in the film King Kong looks like created from animations we did as kids - flipping through pages a of book very fast but it settled as movie went along. I had seen Peter Jackson version before so I had some idea of what whole thing was. However, King Kong here is much more plain villain. You feel quite sad for him in Jackson version. Plus, Denham is much more of an asshole in that version. Here I can defend him pretty much all the way through.

Nightmare on Elm Street(1984): For the past three years, I have been making some effort to acquaint myself with some of the horror films prevalent in pop culture. You can safely assume that I don't watch horror films for the rest of the year. So in October, I spend some time with them for Halloween. This was my first exposure to Freddy's world and I have to say that despite being very '80s, which in my case is not the best thing you want to be, I quite enjoyed this. I may not run to it but I think I'll be down for another trip down this lane.

Thor 2: The Dark World(2013): I always feel that Thor is the most neglected superhero of Marvel universe. Maybe that goes somewhere in the back of my mind as well because I had very less expectations of this one despite Thor(2011) being one of the better superhero films of recent years. Thor 2 exceeded my expectations as well. Now, it's not doing anything extra ordinary here. I guess rather than what it does, more important is what it does not do. It doesn't overdo anything and that made it very enjoyable to me.

The Great Beauty(2013): It could be the time and place I saw this film at but I went through a lot of conflicting emotions while watching this film. On one hand, there were moments in this film that I could really connect with while on the other I felt it too opulent, too frivolous and vacuous. But Jep Gambardella knows this very well; in fact showing how empty their lives are is the main point of this film and it does so eloquently. Knowing all this I should appreciate it a lot but then again, I had to fight to keep my eyes open the whole time.







Night Moves(2014): I think I can take slow movies. Or maybe I should say they don't bore me just because they are slow. I have seen and enjoyed a few to confirm. I understand that keeping your patience with it and still be able to appreciate it can be difficult but I can appreciate a movie taking its time to say what it wants to say. In this case, however, I wasn't sure what it was trying to say or it lost somewhere in the way that I didn't really care where was it going. Either way, not a movie I can say I liked for what it is. 

Army of Darkness(1992): Last of the horror movies I saw this month and unfortunately the worst one. I can appreciate self deprecating aspects of it because it would have been almost impossible to take it seriously but it was little too out there; too much of rolling the eyes. The way it makes fun of itself or jabs at many horror tropes etc. kept it interesting but there was only so much of it I could bare. I think I would have liked this more as a pure comedy than horror+comedy. Still, not the worst horror film I have seen.

A Christmas Story(1983): This is one of those movies I never would've seen, forget seeing - I never would've known, had it not been in IMDb top 250 list(Spare me your highbrow frown. Yes, I still do watch films just because they are in this list. I only have 6 more to see and I would like to say I've seen them all soon). If I had seen it a child, I think this has all the ingredients to be my favourite film. It's really sweet and cute but to tell you the truth now, with its language and looks and stupid voice-over throughout, it is too kiddies stuff.



Lucy(2014): I heard so many good things about this film that one of my major regrets in the past few months was I missed this film during its theatrical run. By luck, I got a chance to correct that but now I so wish I hadn't. This was a colossal waste of time, money and anything else that I cared to invest in it. I didn't expect much from Besson anyways but this is one of the stupidest, consistently over the top films I have seen in a long time. Even just 90 minutes of this film felt like an eternity.

Total Count: 19. 18 First Time Watches and 1 Re-watch .

2014 YTD Count
Total Count: 170. 160 First Time Watches and 10 Re-watches.

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

6 comments:

  1. I heard that Lucy is not even in 'so bad it's funny' category, so I doubt I'll ever see that. i think the best movie I saw this month was the rewatch of My Life without Me, but from this year I finally saw Nightcrawler and it was excellent

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    1. So are very wise! Don't waste your time on Lucy.

      My Life without Me is the one with Sarah Polley right? I have been meaning to see that. And Nightcrawler as well off course.

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  2. Well, it seems like another great movie viewing month for you, Shantanu... I was expecting this a bit earlier, though... but, as they say, it's better late than never!!! :-)

    I feel a rating of 4.5 is a bit too high for Saving Private Ryan (but then I don't admire Spielberg the way you do). Also, I feel you seem to have underrated both The Last Temptation of Christ and The Great Beauty.

    Btw, here's the link to my fulfledged film analysis of Haider:

    http://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/2014/10/haider-2014-indian-filmmaker-vishal.html

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    1. It was! I have been behind everything blogging related due to various things. Hopefully I will catch up soon.

      Thanks for the link. AS I said, I am behind in everything though II will drop by some time in the next few days to take a peek at your article.

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  3. Good to see you back from your break :) Opening on the beach definitely awes me in Saving Private Ryan. If you want to watch other great WW2 films, you should also seek out Come and See (1985). Brutal yet unforgettable. I gave it 9/10 score and it's in 1001 movies book.
    I liked Bela Lugosi's performance in 1931's Dracula(those eyes *shudder*), but the story is a bit tame compared to Nosferatu (1979) or Dracula (1992), both of which I prefer.

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    1. I remember you and Josh loving Come and See but you have made me apprehensive of it as well saying it is very brutal. I have it on my watchlist though.

      Haven't seen 1992 Dracula but I think I like Nosferatu over 1931 Dracula as well.

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