Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wrapping it Up: July

Month with quite a few firsts - I wrote about my very first Russian movie experience and inadvertently I saw one more this month, then my very first Bollywood Essentials post - hopefully there will be more to come soon and then finally, I got down to write about Audrey Hepburn which I have been meaning to do for little while now. But that's mostly what's been going around here, on site. Let's get into what I saw in July.


My Cousin Vinny(1992)(Rewatch): I was actually watching an Indian remake of this and it reminded me that I haven't seen it in a long time. I just love this movie. Joe Pesci is at his snappy brilliant self in it and don't even get me started on Marisa Tomei, just flawless - the way she talks, she walks, her body-language, her face expressions and most notably, her in witness box.

The Children's Hour(1961): This film is criminally overlooked whenever someone talks about Audrey Hepburn's career and just to do my part for it, I wrote a full review of it here. Combined with Shirley MacLaine, Audrey Hepburn gives a fine performance in this one. William Wyler certainly saw an actress behind that pretty face. 

Funny Face(1957): Anyone who complains that Bollywood movies break out into random dance and music sequences should see this. This is so Bollywood and so 60's and I certainly do not mean it as a compliment. It was all rather stupid and cartoonish, and worst part was it felt like it is done in all seriousness. However, I think Audrey Hepburn might have looked most beautiful I have seen her in this.

Airplanes II: The Sequel(1982): I usually avoid any of these spoof movies because of very few I have seen, I pretty much hate every one of them Except Hot Shots!(1991) and Hot Shots: Part Deux(1993). Generally in an attempt to make them funny, I feel like they are utterly unfunny, boring and just plain ridiculous. In first few minutes, this felt like another movie in line. However, as I caught some of the references to Star Wars and 2001 etc., it caught my attention. Mind you, I am not giving it any favorable opinion, I just didn't hate it as I thought I would.

The Amazing Spider-Man(2012): I probably won't call it amazing but it still was pretty good. First of all, I really like Andrew Garfield in this role and I loved how they set up the everything. Emma Stone has a very small part but off course she is good as well. Chemistry between their characters is probably the best part of the movie. However, It isn't without its flaws. One thing that I will mention is I distinctly remember couple of dialogues between Stone and Garfield from the trailer that aren't in movie and that is just stupid. Others can be considered spoilers. So, I will not get into it here. But still pretty good.

A Room with A View(1985): Helena Bonham Carter looked super adorable in her very first role on screen in it. Otherwise very conventional English Rom-Com, even a little too English if you know what I mean. I had a foolish grin on my face almost throughout though and Daniel Day-Lewis, very early in his career was interesting as well.

Wait Until Dark(1967): Meet World's Champion Blind Lady - Audrey Hepburn as recently blinded Lady as 3 thugs try to take advantage of her blindness and steal a doll full of drugs from her house. This has to be one of the best performances of Audrey Hepburn's career. Even Alan Arkin was brilliant and almost unrecognizable with hair on his head in this. 

The Birds(1963): Right from the word go, this film took a grip on me. Even those titles left an impression on me. Hitchcock masterfully develops a lot of tension in first hour or so with that lingering feeling that something is just about to happen and once those bird attacks start, it just goes to another level. I usually don't get scared easily, even when watching a horror movie but this movie just scared me shitless.

The Raid: Redemption(2012): For first half hour or so, I was really underwhelmed by what I was seeing. I have seen quite a few Asian action or slasher movies and hence didn't think I was watching anything extraordinary. However, in the next one and half hour The Raid: Redemption more than redeemed itself, especially because it goes to a completely another level after hand-to-hand combats started. It really is one of the best action movies I have seen, even more so because it pretty much never goes over the top. 

L'eclisse(1962): Monica Vitti and Alain Delon make a really handsome couple. For the first time in Antonini's trilogy, it's a woman that is facing alienation and aloofness though Vittoria here is much more likable character than his previous two leads. My only problem with it really was last seven minutes, apparently filled with references and allegories which I have no idea of, that ending confused me a little. 

Enter The Void(2009): I was kinda dreading to sit down and watch it especially since Alex included it this list. Though I agree that I will probably not watch it again as well, at least not for quite a while, it isn't because I can't watch it again. It will be because I don't think the pain is worth gain as I am not really impressed by it and surprisingly I wasn't even overly depressed either. It took me little while to understand few things which made it 'Mehh' for me while watching e.g. I realised that he was trying to show that Oscar follows the same path discussed in 'Book of the Dead' that he is reading, while making dinner that night.

Porco Rosso(1992): This hardly ever happens. Very rarely you will see me complain about Miyazaki film but I was a little underwhelmed by this especially because of the ending felt a little loose to me. There still was usual Ghibli warmth in it but there movies do little more than just entertain viewer. Sadly, I did not see that spark here.

Cache(2005): It seems that Mr. Haneke really isn't interested in giving us any answers. Just like Code Unkonwn(2000) we only get questions but no answers. I will love to know who was doing it and why ? How did Georges make that connection ? But it was a fascinating story, it didn't leave me frustrated like Code Unkonwn(2000) and at one point I really gasped out loud, I am sure anyone who has seen this movie knows what I am talking about.

Casino Royale(2006)(Re-Watch): An attempt to school my room-mates. In my opinion, it is best Bond movie made yet, certainly best of what I have seen. Maybe, it isn't what you would expect from a Bond movie, but that is precisely what I like about it. For the first time, James Bond is vulnerable, much more human and Bond Girl has presence and much more to do than look pretty and sexy.

The Double Hour(2009): It might be my own fault that I was expecting more from this. After the twist in the middle that took me off-guard, I kept waiting for it to pick up and explode at some point and it never did, it just kept going at its own pace till the very end. It is not a completely bad thing either as whatever does happen on screen is still quite a story but I was expecting something different or at least something more.

City Lights(1931): With this, the honor of Highest Ranked movie in IMDb Top 250 that I haven't seen goes to M. It was such a heart-warming movie, I instantly loved it. What worked most for me was it is a perfect combination of story, emotions, drama and Tramp's usual shenanigans. His boxing match had me in splits whereas that last scene almost made me cry. Such a beautiful and timeless treasure !! 

The Dark Knight Rises(2012): History is my witness that I never understood Christopher Nolan movies completely on their first watch. I probably shouldn't admit it but this one isn't any different. Having said that, this was everything I expected it to be - it is grand, dark, epic, perfect conclusion to what now is most certainly Best Superhero story of all time. However, what makes me most happy is Anne Hathaway did a great job. I do have few problem which I am sure subsequent viewings will make clear. For now, I firmly stand in Camp Nolan !! My Full Review here.  

Dogtooth(2009): I am little uncertain as to how do I say this properly. For some reason, I didn't feel like it was very difficult to watch but it was truly disturbing experience. Much like Festen(1998). I do not think that I will ever get that image of their brother 'checking his own sisters out' image out of my head. But, I felt kinda cheated by the end.

Contempt(1963): May be it is just me but more Godard I see, more I feel like he is trying to hard for us to take him seriously. After Breathless(1960) last month, even this is actually very good movie but it feels like he is purposely trying to be more obscure. Whatever he was trying to say, I am sure could have been said equally effectively but with much more accessibility. At least I don't think purposely making a movie inaccessible can be considered a good thing.

Dersu Uzala(1975): If I didn't know, I wouldn't have guessed that it's an Akira Kurosawa movie. It is nothing like any other Kurosawa movie I have seen. First of all, of dozen or so of his movies, I have never seen a word spoken in language other than Japanese and here, this whole movie is in Russian. Even look and feel of it is much more like Doctor Zhivago(1965) or Lawrence of Arabia(1962). But, that doesn't mean it is an inferior piece of art by any definition possible. It's a devastatingly beautiful portrayal of a purest of a soul which touches your heart somewhere deep down.

Cleopatra(1963): I am pretty much sucker for History and then with Elizabeth Taylor, I would have been down for anything. But more than anything I wanted to see this because I am not really sure if Cleopatra should be considered a heroin or a vamp. I really do not know the historical accuracy of this. However real problem is 243 minutes and glorious Liz Taylor performance after, I am still not. 

Take This Waltz(2012): I have been meaning to see it for couple of months now and I finally got a chance to see it this month. I will have a full review soon but to give you a glimpse of it, even though I have few reservations I really liked it especially because of the 2 ladies for whom I wanted to watch this movie - Sarah Polley and Michelle Williams. Both have done a great job in their respective departments.

Dirty Harry(1971): For a serial killer movie, it actually felt much straight forward. Even the killer wasn't really formidable and Clint Eastwood was, well, Clint Eastwood. But even then it somehow works because I think for some reason it isn't trying to be intelligent, it is just being cool and suave and it is just that. Even without getting into now cult status of character, actor or movie, I can still say I loved it for just that. I just want to watch it once and count how many bullets he shot from his .44 Magnum.

The Iron Giant(1999): With every traditionally animated movie I see, I become more and more pro-2D animation than 3D animation. These traditionally animated characters feel much more human to me even though they do not have that finesse of 3D characters. As for the movie, I would have liked it much more if not for the last 15-20 minutes which went bit too far in my opinion but until then, it was nice.

Earrings(2012)(short): I have been hearing, talking, reading about this film since I started following Alex's blog probably around a year ago. Believe it or not, I was pretty stocked to see it and I KNOW for a fact that I wasn't the only one. It isn't often that a guy you actually know has a film coming, Right? Those who follow him, we all knew how much time, energy and effort he put into it, we knew what this movie meant to him and to tell you the truth, it is everything we expected. If you haven't seen it yet, I urge you to see it here. DO NOT leave without leaving comment on his post - We need more like this from him.

L'illusioniste(2010): Rather sad, almost silent but brilliant and heartfelt animated movie that was nominated for Oscar in 2010 for Best Animated Feature Film. Our magician who wouldn't get big shows and doesn't want to do odd jobs because he doesn't think that is dignified, as well as his side story with the girl was told really beautifully.

Drugstore Cowboy(1989): To tell you the truth, this is pretty good movie. I never thought I will say this but Matt Dillon has done a great job in this and even his whole arc in story was well designed. But for some reason, I was left cold by the end and I have no idea why? As I said, I don't think it is a bad movie but I don't have anything more to say on it. Maybe next time I see it, I might have something more to say.

Viridiana(1961): Have you ever hated every single character of a movie and still think that particular movie is brilliant. I just did !! I can certainly understand Spanish government's prompt ban on it, because even I was fuming by the end, as it comments very harshly on poverty, misery and religion in post-civil war Spain under General Franco's reign and still think it was more than worthy of winning Palme d'Or because brilliance of Bunuel lies in highlighting that stark contrast between start and end.

Total Count:28. 26 First Time Watches and 2 Re-watches.

2012 YTD Count

Total Count:182. 172 First Time Watches and 10 Re-watches.

So I reached double figure in re-watches this year. That's good. 28 movies this month that is even better. Usual division comes up to 13 Classics, 15 new and 11 Foreign, 17 English movies. That is good too. But you know, my favorite part this month was catching up 4 movies from this year, 2012. That is as many 2012 movies as I have seen in first 6 months and on top of that 3 of them were in theater. So, that's one thing accomplished from last month. I also went on little binge of few serials I wanted to see. After finishing up The Wire in June, I started with The Sopranos and I have gone through 4 seasons now, 5th to start soon. I also gave in to Twin Peaks this month but I am largely regretting that decision as it went from weird - intriguing - strange - laughing with it - laughing AT it - are you serious!! - shoot me, already!! stages and I still have around 10 more episodes to go(So, remember to pray for me !!). 

As for the next month, I don't think I am going to try anything different this month, just take every day as it comes. I have few things to write in mind and my movie watching this month mostly will be so as to make it possible.

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

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bollywood Essentials: Satya(1998)

This might be another one of my feeble attempts to start a running feature here, not that it will be any more regular than other couple of them I am doing right now. But, in the least it will give me a chance to do something I am trying hard to get into - write more about Indian movies. As the name would indicate, this is my attempt to talk about Hindi movies which I consider to be some of the best in the history of Bollywood. I will try and select movies which can be considered indisputably essentials according to the majority of pundits but even then I will re-iterate the fact that this my opinion and hence is open for a debate.

To tell you the truth, I would have liked to open with a little older, little easier to get into movie but couple of things worked in favor of Satya(1998) and since I consider it to be a milestone movie in history of Hindi cinema that I wouldn't hesitate to call a Modern Classic, I decided in it's favor. One thing that tilted the balance towards it is over at LAMB, Steve decided to go with Modern Bollywood(after 1990) as a theme for the next Foreign Chops and hence I decided to go for a modern movie. Another and more important factor is there is an Indian movie released last month that is being talked about a lot since, it is also being showed at Melbourne Film Festival, called Gangs of Wasseypur(2012) an underworld movie which tells a story of two rival gangs fighting for the control of Wasseypur. In my mind Satya has become a metric against which quality of all the other Hindi Gangster movies are measured and hence it has been on my mind for past month. Directed by Ramgopal Varma, Satya(1998) is a story of a south Indian guy named Satya who, like thousands of other Indians, comes to Mumbai to make the two ends meet. Mumbai is India's New York and LA combined together, city of dreams that never sleeps. But that does not necessarily mean that it is easy to stand on your own two feet there. Satya learns this in a hard way. Working as a waiter in a bar he gets in a fight with a local gangster Jagga who in turn works for Gurubhai and eventually gets thrown in jail for his attitude to take no shit. Even in jail, he picks up another fight this time with another gangster Bhiku Mhatre but they eventually strike up a friendship. Now, the thing is this Guru and Bhiku are sort of generals of one of the biggest gangsters turned politician in Mumbai Bhau Thakur.

After Bhiku gets him out of the jail, off course he takes him in his wing as well. In one of many great moments in the movie, right after whole gang celebrates Bhiku getting out of jail, he takes Satya to the bar where he used to work and where he got in fight with Jagga, calmly sleeps a gun into his hand and convinces him that you have to do it once you are in this game. Satya walks in, shoots Jagga's brains out and calmly walks out without anyone interfering. Bhiku's reaction at this moment, waiting for him outside in car, is just priceless. Getting into Underworld is not something Satya had planned when he moved to Mumbai, but once he makes his way in, with his tough attitude, serious demeanor and real acumen for business, soon enough he starts his climb in Bhiku's gang. He plays an instrumental part in Bhiku's war against Guru and by now has become the most important person in the whole gang, second only to Bhiku, so that even Bhau has to take notice of him. By this time, he has also fallen in love with a Girl named Vidya, very simple typical Marathi Girl, who lives across the hall. However, he can not muster up a courage to tell her that he is a gangster and lies to her telling that he works in a Hotel somewhere. As their war against Guru starts to heat up, they plan to get rid of him but have to step down in 11th hour because it might be problematic for Bhau's political aspirations. But Satya decides to go against his wishes and ends up making Bhiku and him most feared pair in whole Mumbai underworld("Mumbai ka King Kaun ? Bhiku Mhantre !!" "Who Rules this Mumbai ? Bhiku Mhatre !!"). On the other side of the law, enters new Police Commissioner Amodh Shukla. With the change in leadership, there also comes a distinct change in philosophy as well. Police who were pretty much an onlooker by now, make a serious move towards clearing up the streets with multiple encounters between gangsters and them. (SPOILER ALERT)And thus ensues an ultimate game of Cat and Mouse which culminates with complete wipe-off of Mhatre Gang(SPOILER END)

Central character of Satya is played by a newbie J.D. Chakrawarthy who incidently never appeared in any other Hindi movie since then. I never really thought very highly of his performance but his character is an interesting one, much like Ryan Gosling's Driver and even he plays it with same poise and stare void of any emotions. Scenes where he comes short in my opinion are the one's where he needs to show his humane side. Real highlight of this movie by far, has to be Manoj Bajpai as Bhiku Mhatre. Almost a nobody at the time of release, Manoj Bajpai came into instant limelight with this role and has stayed in with a wide variety of roles over the years. He really picks up the nerve of his character beautifully, portraying his bat-shit craziness of a gangster to dead seriousness of most feared man of Mumbai underworld with equal ease and finesse. Even after watching countless times since its release, I still literally jump in my seat on multiple occasions because every single dialogue that comes out of his mouth is pure gold. However, it is not just two strong central performances. Actually, I am really hard-pressed to think of another movie which has such a variety of memorable supporting roles(Sarfarosh(1999) is the one that comes to my mind which certainly will bean another essential). Shephali Chhaya as Bhiku's wife Pyaari is an absolute scene-stealer in every single scene she appears, but I wonder if me being a Marathi myself has something to do with it. Saurabh Shukla as Kallu Mama, one of the pillars of Bhiku's gang who also co-wrote the script with Anurag Kashyap delivers another flawless performance and so does rarely seen Makrand Deshpande as Advocate Mule. Even likes of Rajesh Joshi(Bappu), Sanjay Mishra(Vitthal) and Snehal Dabi(Chandar) play minor but memorable roles. Govind Namdev as Bhau, Paresh Rawal as Commissioner Shukla, Aditya Shrivastava as Inspector Khandilkar and only real known face of the movie Urmila Matondkar as Vidya round up the strong supporting cast.

As far as I remember, Satya is first gangster movie in Hindi Cinema. It's real success and main reason why it should be considered as Modern Classic lies in the fact that it gave another genre to the industry - Mumbai Noir and also in the fact that there must be almost 100 gangster movies by now. Almost every single one of these movies have tried to emulate its success and none them are anywhere near it, another aspect that makes it special. Made on a smallest possible budget of 20 million INR, Satya has distinct look of a small budget movie with almost no well-known actors. But this look and feel of a movie was more of a conscious decision to give it more realistic and jarring effect which works to perfection. Everything about Satya has some sort of raw vibe to it - onscreen energy of all the actors involved, their language, their demeanor. Saurabh Shukla and Anurag Kashyap's script deserves special mention for that. Portrayal of two Seemingly polar opposite central characters of Satya and Bhiku - one is always silent, other one never shuts up, one always goes for muscle, other always works with his brain - makes it much more interesting to see their collaboration reaching the new heights of underworld. Even though it is almost 3 hours long, there is a lot that happens during this time and it never bores you even for a minute especially once Bhiku's ascent begins. As one of the most intelligent movies made, its story develops on multiple fronts with each angle having a strong connection to the central storyline and moving in a specific direction to come together beautifully for a tragic finale. Director Ramgopal Varma, who has developed quite a reputation for himself now but wasn't a household name in 1998, did an extensive research on every single aspect of the movie. He literally handpicked almost every actor, even in minor roles. He put a lot of effort, time and money into making a movie exactly the way he wanted to make it and it reflects very clearly in the movie.

Some you may have noticed that despite being a Hindi movie, I have not talked about Music and Songs. Satya and for that matter many others Ramgopal Varma directed are kind of movies where these elements take a step back to concentrate more on story and characters, though there are few songs in it. It is actually one of the very first movies where there was prominent use of background score in Hindi Cinema. If not for any other reason, it sure can be considered an essential for being a trendsetter in so many different ways. However with careful direction, crafty and insightful script and some amazing performances Satya is a worthy candidate for title of 'Modern Classic'.

Rating(out of 5):

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

There are very few events that are so highly anticipated as this week’s release of The Dark Knight Rises(2012), third installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy. I do not doubt that Christopher Nolan is one of the Best Directors working right now. Even though he has directed only 7 feature length movies until now, he has cemented his position with every single movie. Considering the fact that every movie he has made recently has been as highly anticipated as this one is quite a feat for any director. It also helps that this is final episode of Batman Trilogy, which at least I do not have any qualms in calling the Best Superhero Series made ever. Considering the legendary status of first two movies which are quite often credited for being game-changer for superhero movies, with all the expectations and anticipations this movie had quite a mountain to climb and I am happy to say that Christopher Nolan delivers it yet again. It is very rare on this blog that I review new releases, mainly because I am usually late to the party. But, if I don't write about the most anticipated movie of the year, I really don't see what else can I do around here ?

Picking up 8 years after the events in The Dark Knight(2008) where Harvey Dent is still Gotham’s Messiah and Batman is a criminal wanted for his murder and hence is still in hiding, Gotham has been blessed with years of tranquility due to ‘Dent Law’. Envisioned by the man himself, this law has been criminals’ nightmare, successfully bringing the crime rate down and making the streets of Gotham safe for everyone. Bruce Wayne has taken off his mask as city no longer needs Batman and hence has been in kind of recluse in his own mansion with only Alfred to accompany him. One day, one clever and also beautiful thief by the name of Selina Kyle breaks into his sanctuary to steal his mother’s pearl necklace which also has his prints on it. After a long time, this small event gets better of his curiosity and he soon realizes that she is linked to a mercenary named Bane who has just arrived in Gotham. When his trusted friend and Police Commissioner Jim Gordon gets a taste of Bane’s wrath, Bruce Wayne soon realizes that it might be the time where he will have to come out of his retirement and put back his cape on. Despite Alfred warning him for not being ready to face him, when Batman finally confronts Bane, Bane comes on top of that encounter and even breaks Batman’s back. Badly beaten and almost physically unable to move, Bane puts him in a prison where it is almost impossible to escape from. Back in Gotham, with no one to stop him, Bane completely isolates Gotham from rest of the World and takes control of it. Bruce Wayne not only faces a humiliating defeat from the hands of terrorist but has to see the city, he is been trying to protect from dangers exactly like Bane, in complete anarchy. However, this is exactly where this Dark Knight has to rise from ashes to bring back what was rightfully his.

For some reason, every Nolan movie is and probably will always be remembered as Christopher Nolan movie rather than actors in it. It is rather a compliment to the brilliance of that man as I am yet to see a movie he directed with a bad acting performance. There are bunch of series regulars that we see here again but actual scene stealers are the additions to this already stellar bunch. Christian Bale is his usual self but with little bit more resolve and grit because of all his falling and rising. Tom Hardy, though quite limited because of his mask and rather incomprehensible voice, does great job with his eyes and his body language. I will not forget those eyes and his response in the very end of the movie when Batman damages his mask. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does good job as well as the cop who always believed in Batman. I did not expect Marion Cotillard to have as much screen time as she has but she not only looks pretty but also does pretty good job. Michael Caine brings much needed emotional depth to this movie. Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman, two returning veterans are as effortless as ever. However, by far the real highlight of this extremely talented cast was, you have no idea how happy this makes me to say, Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle. Selina Kyle is a woman with integrity and morales, even though she keeps on denying it in favor of being a tough, mysterious woman. Batman sees through this mask she has pulled over for her survival and reaches to that person who knows the difference between right and wrong. Ever since this decision of casting Hathaway was announced, I heard a lot about how miscast she is and even though I am not like smitten by her or something but ever since then I wanted her to prove them wrong. Well, she did some serious ass-whooping here.
To Tell you the truth, Christopher Nolan movies have a long history of being too convoluted for me to understand fully in very first viewing. I did not understand The Prestige(2006) after first viewing, The Dark Knight(2008) pretty much left me exhausted after and Inception(2010), well, a little too high. But I have loved very single one of them. This one is no different. I am quite sure that I will pick up few small threads here and there on 2nd and 3rd viewing, but still this is as epic as it gets. It is dark, it is grand, huge and it is every single thing I expected it will be. Wally Pfiser's cinematography and Hans Zimmer's score are two important factors in making it big, though I did feel like score was tad overused. Bane, though not as crazy as Joker was, his complete chaos of the city had much more purpose to it and I believe that can be just as terrifying. As a matter of fact, the threat Bane possesses is much more palpable to make us realize that all it takes is a little tumble of the cliff for even the most sophisticated of our societies to fall into the pit of anarchy. Fighting against your own fears, Rising from a fall to be a better man can be called as some of the basic philosophies that played instrumental part in Batman's foundation and he returns to his basics yet again in this final battle. Christopher Nolan brings a plethora of characters from Bat-world in this and deserves a real credit for making a brilliant use of all these characters to develop this gritty tale. Being the last installment in trilogy, it was probably needed for him to bring it all together but it doesn't feel like he keeps on throwing characters with no real purpose. Before going in, I heard a lot of people talking about first half being quite slow and lot of characters being introduced. I did not have any such problem, I actually thought it used it's time really well. Off course, because of Indian movies I am quite used to longer movies but I checked my watch only once during the whole 165 minutes.

Even though I think The Dark Knight Rises is an almost perfect ending to this trilogy, I won't go as far as calling it a flawless movie. I wouldn't even call it the best of the trilogy. Personally, I still haven't connected the dots properly and it feels little haphazard to me which - history is my witness - Nolan movies are anything but. It will probably make much more sense to me on subsequent watches, which I know there will be many, and then I will also be able to put it more into perspective. I also could not connect with Bane's political aspirations or the reasons why he did what he did. In case of Joker, it was chaos for the sake of chaos. Bane seems to have a little more motivation or thought process behind it. But at this point I am not exactly sure what it was? and it is very well possible that it's there in the movie but I missed it because of Bane's voice. Also, final twist does belittle his larger than life tale thus far. But TDKR does one thing that so many other concluding chapters fail to do, it brings the whole trilogy to full circle and therein lies its biggest success.Christopher Nolan really DOES know how to make blockbusters !!
Rating(out of 5):

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Children's Hour(1961)

About a week ago, I finally got down and corrected one of anomalies on the blog. Despite of all my admiration for Audrey Hepburn, I never wrote anything about her on this blog. I finally did that last week. After watching a documentary The Audrey Hepburn Story(2000) based on her life, I decided this is the opportunity I needed to rectify my mistake and took it with both hands. However, before doing that I went through her filmography once again to check what have I seen and of the remaining movies, what do I need to see? Fortunately, everything I wanted to see was readily available and within a week I ended up watching 4 Audrey Hepburn movies - I decided to let the fifth one go. One of them was The Children's Hour(1961). If you have read my Audrey Hepburn post, I said there as well that in my opinion this is one of the most criminally overlooked movie whenever someone talks about Audrey Hepburn's career. For some reason, I had never heard anywhere of this movie before and if I did not go digging into her filmography, I probably would not have seen this movie for a long time. I can only say that I certainly am happy I did go looking out for this as this is a fine piece of cinema which deserves much more attention that it is usually given.

Based on Lillian Hellman play by the same name, directed by William Wyler and starring Audrey Hepburn along with Shirley MacLaine in the role of two close friends Karen Wright and Martha Dobie, since college who have combined their forces to run a small boarding school for girls. There are only 20 girls in their school and these two are sharing all the responsibilities at school - they are teachers, they are headmistresses, they are wardens as well as cooks too. They both have put a lot of blood and sweat into this place to make it worth any reputation and slowly but surely their hard-work looks like is paying off as they are just about starting to make their school profitable. And as it would require for two people to get this far together, they have great understanding and trust between them. Both the girls have put quite a few years of their lives in this Dream Project however, they both have reached a point where it has become necessary to take certain decisions in their personal life that they can not postpone any further. Karen has been engaged to the local doctor Joe Cardin for couple of years now and they need to get married soon, even Joe is staring to be little restless now whereas Martha really needs to find someone and settle down as soon as possible. After some deliberation, Joe and Karen decide that this indeed is high time and they should get married after the end of current school term. Martha reacts to this news rather unpleasantly as she feels that this will mean Karen ignoring the school a little and further increase in her responsibilities, even though Karen and Joe both assure her that will not be the case. However, being a good friend and inherently good person, she keeps her issues aside and is happy for her friend.

Martha also has an aunt named Lily that lives with them and gives them a helping hand in school as well. Lily actually wants to be an actress on Broadway but can't really get past odd role here and there. Now this aunt Lily is a character and is meddling and rather cunning. While arguing with Martha once, she accuses her of being jealous of Karen and having an unnatural kind of relationship with her, she even goes ahead and ascertains that it has always been the case. Unfortunately, two of the schoolgirls overhear this conversation in the other room and off course go on to tell their other room-mate at night. Now, this other girl is Mary - a natural troublemaker who both Karen and Dobie believe is bad influence on other girls and because of her attitude gets punished quite often. However, more importantly, she is granddaughter of Amelia Tilford, one of the most influential and respected families in town. She is also an aunt to Joe. Mary being punished for anything and everything she does has a kind of spite of both her teachers and wants to get rid of them or from them as soon as possible. After hearing about the conversation between Lily and Martha from her friends, she decided to use it against them to get her out of there. So one day, she quietly sneaks out of her school and goes to her grandmother. At first Amelia disregards this as ridiculous but Mary seems to be persistent and also Lily, who is been asked to leave this place as Martha has had enough of her, unknowingly acknowledges of making any such remark. This puts Amelia in very uncomfortable position and she not only decides to take Mary back home for good, she also passes on a word to the parents of other girls in school that Karen and Martha might be lovers. One by one, all the girls start leaving the school leaving Karen and Martha to wonder what exactly happened ? and what follows turns their lives upside down completely.

I am not gonna lie and say that there was any other reason I saw The Children's Hour or even went looking out for it than Audrey Hepburn. Off course, having one more recognizable name, Shirley MacLaine that is, in the mix made it even more desirable but still I probably would not have watched it had it nor been for Audrey Hepburn. So, let me start with her. It is one of those movies where her acting is of much more relevance than her looks and charms and yet again she proves that she does not need them to please the audience, she is quite capable of doing it through her acting. Working yet again with William Wyler who apparently saw an actress behind that pretty face and gave her roles like The Nun's Story(1959) and off course her breakthrough role in Roman Holiday(1953), she does a great job indeed as usually calm and pleasant but determined and straight-thinking in face of an adversity Karen. Shirley MacLaine as Dobie has more dramatic and little troubled role and I am sure that none of us has ever had any doubts of her acting prowess. It's just good to see 60's Shirley MacLaine that I was stunned by in The Apartment(1960). I should also mention James Garner as Joe and Miriam Hopkins as Lily as well. But if someone really deserves to be mentioned here, it is Karen Balkin as malicious and rather bossy among her friends Mary. Mary is just a kid and all she wants is to escape from school where she thinks her teachers are being unnecessarily hard on her. She doesn't really fathom the implications of her actions and keeps on playing the same card to keep her from being punished yet again, this time possibly by her grandmother and this storm blows completely over her head.

Now, I am not going to lie and pretend to say that The Children's Hour is a masterpiece. I wouldn't even say that it is a movie that everyone has to watch. It is a decent enough film with little different story than we usually see with two strong and commendable center performances. But, my only problem is this movie deserves a lot more recognition from everyone than it seems to get. And that is the only reason that I have spent all this time on writing this post - to do my part in helping it get that recognition. Hopefully, this will make you want to watch it and it will soon be there.

Rating(out of 5):

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