Friday, June 24, 2011

Profile of a Director

WOODY ALLEN: How much do I love you or..... do I?

It has been almost a year since I have Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008) on my Hard Drive. I finally saw it yesterday and I started a familiar Battle with myself? Do I like Woody Allen or not? Few days ago, I saw Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) on Netflix. I will call it a typical woody allen film which usually I wouldn’t appreciate much but somehow I liked it and now this…typical long discussions about existential realism and fashionable pessimism.. I don’t even know the meanings of these words…But somehow all in all I liked that film too.
First Woody Allen movie I saw was Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask (1972). I saw it on TV. I don’t have much to talk about it since I done even remember most of it and I definitely didn’t know it was a Woody Allen movie then. Though 1 impression it made in my mind was it is different. See, from the very first movie I was confused about what do I think of him. I knew it was different but I did not know it was good different or bad different. Off course, I was too inexperienced then to make any judgment.
Then came Mighty Aphrodite (1995). Let me tell you that I am a firm believer that some Films are made for Classes and Some for Masses and I don’t think this one is for everyone. I don’t think everyone can enjoy this movie. I definitely don’t belong to the classes yet but it sure had me intrigued. It again was different and this time I was determined to get to know this character: Woody Allen. My next stop was Match Point (2005) and Scoop (2006). In my humble opinion, Match Point is one film which is though still trademark Allen film, anyone can easily like it and so does scoop. Definitely my Favorite of the lot, especially for an amazing ending. Murder mystery with Scarlett Johansson – I am In.
And then I saw Annie Hall (1977) and Manhatten(1979). The films after which, everyone started to take Allen seriously, made him a phenomena he is now. You will see everything Woody Allen has become known for in these movies. In every sense, these are Trademark Woody Movies or rather these movies made that mark for others to follow. But after watching so many movies, somewhere his often-caustic misanthropy, half-comic fear of death and getting lost in pipe-dreams of the past feels so unreal, so over the top… And I do get the humour in it but it’s too crude for me. May be I am too young or too naïve to understand it or maybe I lack that formal education about films which might make me appreciate them. In his terms all these cerebral issues are too pseudo-intellectual for me (I still don’t really understand the meaning of these words). I don’t really care about these grandiose philosophical issues.
And there was Crimes and Misdemeanors(1989). For me it is a mash-up of Annie Hall and Match Point. Central story of Martin Landau and him plotting murder of his mistress holds really good(though casting of Angelica Houston is terrible). Even those typical long and heavy discussions feel right at place since we are looking at much serious plot here. But I don't get why Woody Allen had to put himself in? There is nothing wrong with the storyline and it is even good but it is completely redundant to the central story. It is kinda two parallel stories going on which somehow he brings together in the end. I would have loved this movie same completely without Woody Allen part of it.

I once read somewhere that before making your opinion about anything, read 5 things good about them and read 5 things bad about them and then make your own opinion about it. Unfortunately, here I have seen around 8-10 films of Woody Allen but yet I am not sure where does any of these films belong to and I am still eagerly waiting for Midnight in Paris(2011). My main problem is with the way they are presented. If I can get over them, I generally like them. But it seems unfair to ignore one of the most important aspects of film making. You see my dilemma here? Can someone please help?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Movies I watch again and Again

Somewhere in my 3rd Year of Engineering, I borrowed an extended version of the whole “Lord of the Rings” Series – almost 11 hours Run Time; one of my friends and I still remember running home to watch it immediately. I think I started watching it around 6-6.30 in the evening and I was watching it the whole night till I finally finished it sometime in the morning. That was first of many more LOTR nights me and few of my friends had since then. I have seen those movies so many times that I know most of the dialogues by heart. Watching so much fighting, orcs and Gollum and other creatures my parents initially were little worried. They even tried talking me out of it. But now they walk out of the house whenever I put these movies on. Maybe they have given up on me now.
Lord of the Rings” Trilogy is just one of the movies I watch time and again. Many times because I don’t remember certain dialogue in one of the scenes. That much trivial reason is enough for me to go back and watch those movies one more time. Sweet Home Alabama(2002), not a very well known film, but I have watched it at least dozen times. Reese Witherspoon and great dialogues of this movie make up for otherwise very predictable movie. Juno(2007) is about teen pregnancy- subject which tells me only one thing: ‘Stay Away!’ but believe me I can watch this movie any time any day. Jason Bateman and Ellen Page deserve a lot of credit to make such a movie and moreover make it thoroughly entertaining. Ellen Page even received her very first Oscar Nomination for this role.
Let us talk about some classics. 12 Angry Men(1957) took me by surprise the first time I saw it. I sure was expecting a good movie - courtroom drama with racial elements. It will take a special effort to fail such a movie. But 12 Angry Men takes it to another level. Movie does not go out of the jury room and does not let you out of your seat. During my second and third viewings of the film, I did a small exercise. Every time they used to take a vote in movie, I will stop and think How will I vote? and it was hell of a job.
And then there is Roman Holiday(1953). One of my very good friends in college used to talk very fondly of this movie. She still does. But back then I didn’t even know that there is a movie by this name. So, one fine day I saw Roman Holiday just because she insisted and I have seen it 7 times in last 2 years. Believe me; I would have enjoyed it as much even if it was a silent movie. No disrespect to Gregory Peck but Audrey Hepburn on the screen that’s all I need. Her pristine, divine beauty had me tongue tied. And yes, I still try and say ‘Thank You’ the way she does in this movie.                                                          

And there are many more. So many that I can go on for at least 2-3 more posts like this. However, I will limit myself to just list them here. Morning Glory(2010): Rachel McAdams all the way. She has put a display of emotions in this. Inglourious Bastards(2009): Show me a longer and better scene than the one in Bar with Diane Kruger and I will stop watching movies forever though Col. Hans Landa is a reason enough to watch is again and again, My Best Friend’s Wedding(1998): 'Julianne: I'm pond scum. Well, lower actually. I'm like the fungus that feeds on pond scum. Michael: Lower. The pus that infects the mucus that cruds up the fungus that feeds on the pond scum'. I am all over the floor and I am watching it for umpteenth time. Sound of Music(1965): Songs, Songs and Songs. Priceless(2006),Sarfarosh(1999), Satya(1998), Walk the Line(2005), Casablanca(1942).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Beginning of a New Beginning

Titanic(1997) was the first English movie I saw in theatre. I must have been in 6th Std and I remember asking my father ‘Why is everyone laughing?’ when Kate Winslet’s bodyguard says ‘It's interesting. The young lady slipped so suddenly and you still had time to remove your jacket and your shoes.’ to Leonardo DiCaprio after DiCaprio saves her from her suicide attempt. I didn’t understand a thing then. As a kid, though I enjoyed many movies like Home Alone(1990), Home Alone 2: Lost in New York(1992) and Dunston Checks in(1996), my knowledge of English Film Industry was only limited to these movies. Somewhere in November 2006, we shifted in the new house and then came Cable Network. Until then, we never had one. Even television came in our house pretty late, sometime in 1996 I believe.

By the time I was in my 3rd year of my Engineering, because of Broadband Internet network and Movie channels like Star Movies and HBO had kindled my passion of Films. Few of my Friends I considered as reliable sources(most of them, I still do) were used to be my ‘go to’ guys about movie suggestions. Because of J.K.Rowling and Harry Potter, I was also reading lot of English Literature as well(I should also thank my friend Mandar Harshe, who lent me first 4 books of the series). Reading those books made me comfortable with the language while watching English films. Friends(1994)helped immensely too.

Then I came to Massachusetts for my masters in August 2009. Availability of much superior infrastructure at very affordable cost made a lot of things easier for students studying thousand miles away from home like us. An Avid movie lover l was by then, it was almost impulsive to me to use this for watching many movies I always wanted to watch but were not available for various reasons. It was my chance and I was not going to miss it. Netflix, College Library and other sources to get movies became my lifeline. I became a regular visitor of IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes and similar sites.

I finished most of my course work by Fall 2010. Since Spring 2011, I was working on my master’s project. Lack of any definite time table gave me the freedom to do everything as I wanted to. Now, I had time to do many things that I loved but could not fit into my schedule because of lectures, home-works and assignments(I have read 7 books since Jan 2011. Almost double the books I read since coming to US). By default, I was watching a lot of movies. I have had quite a collection now; my friends were asking me for movie recommendations; my roommates were teasing me about being in wrong career (they wanted me to be a movie critic. :)

I was enjoying my journey of Films. But after some time it was natural to urge for something more. I was doing a lot of reading regarding movies myself, various articles, blogs like Riku Writes(This is one of my major source of my Inspiration. I am going to steal a lot of ideas from this blog) etc. etc. And one fine day, I thought to give it a try myself. And here we are. I can never be a movie critic; whatever my roommates want me to be. But at least I can try to write about them. This is my humble attempt to channel my various thoughts regarding movies that I kept to myself until now. Hope you will like it. Your comments about anything will be most appreciated. Bon Voyage!!

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