My 2009 in Movies

The year has been ordinary one in terms of movies. Some of the best ones were sci fi and that is the only consolation. However I am not going to make a best of 2009 list quite simply because unlike the professional critics at Uncle Sam’s place I havent been able to watch all the movies that have been released yet and anyhow in a month or so we will be counting down to the Oscars and doing a list then is best. By then most movies will be available for consumption. Since the Oscars are so prestigious, we movie people should simply give up calendar years and do our lists around it. The movies featured during Oscars often get forgotten and end up in neither lists not this year and not the year before. So i am going to take a different path. We critics are innocent folk with everyone living in their own glass doors. We can  celebrate Christmas whenever we feel like.
When it comes to me personally this hasnt been a stellar year like the year before where I Mad Men Teams Up With Banana Republic could clock 240 movies (inspite of the TV shows). This year I could only clock 192 but its ok ‘cos life has changed in many ways and TV shows like Mad Men and Friends (yep it was my first time) made life richer in their own ways. The first two months were spent watching and writing about the Oscar nominees of 2009 and I was exposed to some really fine movies like Rachel Getting Married, Waltz with Bashir etc. There were a lot of classics, foreign language films and rom coms. There were a lot of indie films too. This was also the year I fell in love with Spanish movies and this was partly aided by the Spanish Film festival which happened in Hyderabad. So really as a movie buff what matters to me more than the best I have seen of this year is the best I have seen in this year. So I have compiled a list of must watch films I have seen for the first time this year and believe you too should sometime. So something like a 3rd time of Casablanca or Wall E wont count. There wasnt a single 10 this year I could see. Star Wars was the last one in October 2008. The 9’s were rare too but there were a plenty of 8’s. Here it goes!
Best films I have seen in 2009
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The 9/10 ‘s

1. Waltz with Bashir
2. La Vita E Bella ie Life is Beautiful
3. Star Trek (2009)
5. The Blues Brothers

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The 10 most anticipated movies of 2010.

2009 has been a pathetic year in terms of quality and variety of movies. Most of the big budget ones were crappy and the best were some independent or very low budget movies like In the Loop, Moon and 500 Days of Summer. These are surprise packages and tough to predict. So like always I look at the Multi hundred million dollar, Super Star Studded, Auteur helmed movies to show us the path. Here are my top 10 most anticipated movies of 2010.

10. The Rum Diary: Johnny Depp is back serving Hunter S Thomson in another of his works after the dizzily brilliant fare: Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. Well we will take anything with Johnny Boy. Just hoping it won’t make the Public Enemies.

9. Jonah Hex: A wild Wild West where bounty hunters and Voodo practitioners are involved. Based upon a comic book with a terribly scarred anti hero it throws me back to the good ol’ days. Dont tell me Megan Fox in hot Victorian lingerie wont delight you! 

8. Arrested Development: Everyone loved the TV show. Much to the delight of the fans it’s back in the form a movie. Sex and the City worked, The X files didn’t. But I am pretty sure with its fantastic humour Arrested Development wont disappoint the fans.
7. Shutter Island: This Martin Scorcese-Leonardo Di Caprio period thriller was supposed to release in 2009 but got pushed back. We cant wait to see what Marty has to follow up to his Oscar winning Departed. Something better I hope.

6. Robinhood: Another quintessential pair, ie of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe is back. They try to repair the joke that was the last Robinhood movie was 20 years ago. Right up in Gladiator’s alley Scott must have put heart and soul into this after the performance of his last 2 movies.

5. Kickass: This might end up being the surprise package of the year. Matthew Vaughn, who also directed Layer Cake and Star Dust makes a movie in which a teenager just decides to be a superhero though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so.

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Feature: Summer 2009 Roundup, Part 2

The Summer in question here starts in may and ends by mid September with the beginning of fall which brought out releases like Surrogates and Inglourious Basterds. So this roundup does come almost a month late but this situation is due to the place I live in most movies including some big ones like Up and Star Trek come several months late. There are some others like District 9, Sam Raimi's Drag me to Hell, 500 Days of Summer, Cloudy with Chance of Meatballs, Bruno, Time Traveler's Wife etc I couldnt get to see at all. Maybe I soon will when they are out on DVD's. Sometimes I feel like moving away to greener(read where movies release the earliest) pastures. Also I have intentionally skipped talking about movie like Aliens in the Attic, I love you Beth Cooper etc which have been said to be ranging from uncomfortable, nauseating to vomit inducing. So here are the rest of the movies which I got to see and are worth talking about. For here in 'Too Much Cinema' good cinema is everything.

So continuing the serial reviews from the last post:

This is the best 'chick-flick' or romantic comedy if you wish of this year. It stars Ryan Reynolds who has a knack of picking simple small budgeted yet refreshing films and Sandra Bullock who I havent seen act so well in a long long time. Well I have never seen her act well before. This movie has the usual romantic plot and twists but it has refreshingly new and bold (read adult) stuff in the comedy department. Just like The Hangover you are entertained through out the movie with one liners and sketches. By doing so this movie ends up pleasing the views who are non chalant to the chic-flicks, which is quite a big thing for such films. It has paid off well too by landing the 10th spot in the highest grossers of the year so far.

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Feature: Summer 2009 Roundup, Part 1

Every year in May, the biggest of movies are released by Hollywood. These movies are fitted with the hottest of stars, tried and tested formulae like superheroes, end of the world scenarios and established franchises in spectacularly explosive circumstances made possible by the embarrassingly huge budgets allocated to them. Why this specific time of the year? It is the beginning of summer in the western world (upper parts of northern hemisphere) and the attendance rates in theatres skyrocket as a result of the holiday season. The kids are free, lets give them a movie and then create merchandise based on the same lines for them to play with. That is their philosophy and usually it works. Year after year such movies come out and they make oodles of money, for a good reason too. The movies are visual treats couple with good film making. But this year they didnt do so well and again for a really good reason. No! It is not the recession, it is the sorry state of films.

2009 has been the year of impending or post apocalyptic future. Terminator, Transformers, 9, GI Joe and Star Trek all were either dealing with saving the planet or dealing with whats left after the worst has happened. This theme business isnt unique for this year as I am pretty sure all of you remember the Superhero Summer last year with Iron Man, Hancock and Dark Knight. Indiana Jones and James Bond arent any less than your average superheroes either as they have been still kicking some good amount of evil ass even after decades of existence. 2007 was the year of threequels, with Spidy 3, Bourne Ultimatum, Shrek the Third and Pirates of Carribean's third part too. Also the forgettable Rush Hour 3. Far too many 3's I say!

Back to disappointing 2009, I not only see many movie marvels coming out this year(oscar types) I have also been through the most boo..(yawn)...oring of so called blockbuster movies. They did not create any cinematic road blocks with showstopping marvel and they definitely dint bust any chops. JAWS would turn in its grave or maybe come back for the 20th part and still do better like in the back to the future movies. So with so many movies to cover I better get started.

1. Terminator Salvation:

Talking about bores; I start with the biggest one of the season. I dont know why Christian Bale signed up for this and he is still doing the sequel when he can earn as much as he wants doing other projects. This movie was made with a budget close to 200 million $ and earned only 125 million $ in US and 320 million$ worldwide and that means it has been an epic flop inspite of the "terminator" and Bale brand name. Except for a couple of pretty cool explosions sequences and the performance of Sam Worthington the movie had nothing. I almost fell asleep. I always though John Connor was a dud not THE Dude who was going to be leader of human resistance and this movie sets out to prove that despite the pain they take to portray his alleged heroism. Worthington's character Marcus was the star of the movie not some brainless punk Connor.

2.Angels and Demons

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Review: Inglourious Basterds

Save James Cameron, who hasnt made a feature film in more than a decade, no director in the world creates as much anticipation as Tarantino does when he picks up a project. Inglourious Basterds was no different. The noise for this one has been around since the time he announced this movie even before he made Grindhouse. And it has lived up to its hype and people seemed to love it. I dont.

Tarantino has carved a niche for himself where he makes seemingly the most absurdest of stories into compelling tales with visual and aural splendour which lie perfectly on that thin line between genius and mockery of genius. Thats quite something. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the stuff he has made and I have seen. (Yet to watch Jackie Brown and Deathproof) My favourites among his work are the Kill Bill movies. And yes I had mentioned in the podcast episode before, though I really appreciate Pulp Fiction I dont consider it remotely even among the greatest movies ever made. Also I dont consider him among my favourite or even the best directors out there. Yes he is a brilliant auteur who has created his special place by giving the internet generation marvellous mashups of old and current popular cultures and arts from all over the world but where is the variety? His originality lies in the incredulity of his work but where is the novelty?

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The best and the worst from this decade’s Oscars

When the curtain fell on the night of the Oscars on Feb 23rd of this year, the last of the Oscars in the first decade of the 21st century were given away. I had to make a list post and what better way to make lists than talk about the Oscars, the Academy’s short sightedness and baseless favouring of some movies over others. The Oscars have been long notorious for the fact that they often snub some great cinematic masterpieces for ephemeral success stories though they are often seen as the bastion for the best of world cinema. So this is the list of movies which were nominated and won (or dint win) in the Oscars from the year 2000 to 2009.
Here in this post I list out the top 5 movies of this decade which were nominated to the Oscars and yet dint get the love they deserved. These movies certainly should have won many more statuettes or in some cases won atleast something. Following that list will be another top 5 of the movies which were nominated to the Oscars but got far more awards/credit than they deserved. One important thing you need to know is I have taken into consideration only the movies which were nominated. So there might be some movies which weren't nominated at all but were very good pieces of Cinema which deserved to be. Taking them into consideration would just make the list very complex. So here they are:

Top 5 nominated movies that were overlooked

5:Memento in 2001: The classic modern Film Noir. It is not something you expect the academy voters to appreciate and sing laurels about but not even the oscar for screenplay? Are you kidding me? I coudnt believe it when it got beaten by Gosford Park. Also what kind of genius can pull off such a stunt with a screenplay that screws with your head and yet make it an infinitely repeat watch and not get a nomination for direction. Nolan only! First it was Memento then Batman Begins and then The Dark Knight.
Also Wall-E in 2009: Animation movies are no less than any other live action stuff but the people at the Oscars still think they are for kids. They have a separate category for them which is nice but they dont let the children stray into the living room. In the occasional circumstances the child(animation movie) is precocious they snub it. Wall-E is the perfect example. In a perfect world where there is no prejudice it would have been nominated for the best movie and may have beaten the dogs out of the slum.
4: Atonement in 2008: Atonement was fighting a losing battle right from the start with its competition being the likes of No Country for Old Men and There will be Blood.
What many people fail to realise is just because it is a love story doesn't make it less cinematically brilliant. It was heavileternalsunshinepubvy nominated but it failed to win any major ones. People will remember that year to be that of Daniel Day Lewis and Coen Brothers.

3: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in 2005: The Oscars of 2005 weren't really a great fair just like the ones in 2007. Everyone was just talking about the grand old man called Clint Eastwood and how Harry was still dirty and kicked ass just as they were singing songs of Scorsese in ‘07. In the process of crowning Million Dollar Baby they forgot the wonderful gem made by Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman. This movie is wonderful on so many different levels that there is probably no one who has seen it and not loved it.

2: Good Night, and Good Luck. in 2006: The year Brokeback Mountain and Crash were taking in all accolades there was one true gem which will stand the test of time. 10 to 20 years down the line people will look back at this movie and say wow! What a classic. David Strathairn gave a brilliant performance playing Edward R Murrow the iconic TV presenter who made modern TV what it was before it began to rot again. This movie showcases the power of the medium.
1: Road to Perdition in 2002 : Taking the trends at the Oscars, this the movie the academy’s voters should love to bits. It seems like as if it was custom made for them as it has got a great setting, well shot, good star cast and a touching storyline. However this movie was relegated to the sidelines and wasn't even nominated for the major awards. Sam Mendes’s follow up to American Beauty may not be as brilliant but it definitely leaves strong impressions.
Honourable mentions:
LOTR: Two Towers, My favourite movie from the trilogy. The love not shown to it and its predecessor was more than made up by showering on the final installment.
Requiem For a Dream: If you have seen the movie, you know what I am talking. It is just gold in terms of acting, directing, cinematography, music and everthing else. But people at the Oscars dint understand Indie then.

Top 5 undeserved oscar winning movies

5: Brokeback Mountain in 2006 : The movie of the year everyone said. Everyone couldnt stop talking about two gay cowboys getting it on in the mountains. It was Iconic, yes but only a decent film not much different from heavy straight love dramas. It was very boring too. However Hollywood loves to promote the gay cause. I do to. But not by making a mediocre film a cult.
Babel in 2007: Alejandro González Iñárritu made a wonderful movie called Amores Perros and then made 21 grams. He repeats the same intersecting story lines structure in each of his film and Babel was no different. It was slow, a bit boring and nothing more to while away an idle afternoon. This movie however got 7 nominations.
4: The Departed in 2007 : There were several good movies in 2006 but it was a dull year for the movies when you take into account that there was none of the usual one or more two movies each year which blow you away. Martin Scorsese had been snubbed by the oscars for about 2 decades when in the first place he should have won it for Taxi Driver and Goodfellas long long ago. This one was just a fast paced mafia/thriller/cop movie with heavily loaded star cast. If this movie doesnt convince you that the oscar panel is sometimes swayed by the people behind the movie than the movie itself nothing will.
3: The Cider House Rules in 2000: Thank heavens for American Beauty that year or else I fear Cider House Rules would have had its way. The movie was just all right and it was a bildungsroman of an orphan boy. It still managed to gain 7 nominations and win 2 including the best screenplay based on previously published material beating The Green Mile, Talented Mr Ripley and The Insider. For me even the Insider was a better film than the run of the mill Cider House Rules.
2: Gosford Park in 2001: This movie is at its best just a good thriller. It has a great star cast but what is the point if the storyline is just out of an Agatha Christie novel. It does do well in capturing the turmoil and emotions of the character but 7 nominations and one win! come on! And you know what that win was for ? Best Screenplay directly written for the screen which it won at the cost of MeChicagomento, arguably the most wonderful piece of screenwriting in the history of cinema. How could they?
1: Chicago in 2003: This is the only movie I havent seen in the list but still it is definitely the worst mistake of this decade for one simple reason. How can a musical however great the musical is upset movies like Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Pianist and win the Best Movie Oscar.
(Dis)honourable mentions:
A Beautiful Mind: Good movie but not as great as they paint it to be
Michael Clayton: I dont even know what it was doing there. So many nominations and thankfully only one win.
By the time you reach here I am pretty sure you were vigorously nodding or shaking your head on many of the mentions but hey this is what I thought. Do let me know where you think I went wrong and do mention if you think I omitted something important which belongs to the list in the comments below.

p.s: In case you want to see the complete list of winners. Check out Oscars past at imdb for 1929 to 2007 and for 2008 and 2009

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lingua franca: Cinema

Everybody loves movies. Some love them for the entertainment and some love it as an art form and some love the whole medium for all that it presents. Whatever the reason might be most people have certain reservations against what kind of movies they watch. Some want non stop action-thrillers, some prefer comedy, some rather cuddle up with the so called chick flicks and some others enjoy the rush horror movies give them. But the most common preferences are in language and time. Most people I know prefer recent movies mostly of this decade or at most the last and would happily stick to English language.
I have been championing classics right since the time I fell in love with them especially the great movies which have come from the ‘Golden Age of Hollywood’. Also I am a big fan of foreign language movies i.e. the non English ones from all over the world. This post is about the latter. I say if you haven't watched movies from different parts of the world you cannot truly say you love movies and call yourself a buff.
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There is something magical about movies. They let you delve into different worlds and make you experience the plethora of emotions that we could seldom gain in our real life. And this is done without any bar of language or time. Each part of the world has a different and one or more characteristic styles of filmmaking which sets them apart from the rest. The perspective each filmmaker give on the same subject is quite different and a major part of it obviously rests on where he comes from. For who we are and what we think are influenced by where we live.

Watching exotic films from various parts of the world with audio playing in its native language (I despise dubbed movies) with subtitles appearing at the bottom is one of my favourite things to do in life. They tell me about new places, teach me about native lifestyles, give an insight into people’s mindsets and yet appeal to the basic human in me. Where we are, whatever clothes we wear or language we speak our basic tendencies and nature remains the same. Whatever may be the native tongue the movie speaks it communicates to us the human language.
People complain about that they usually spend too much energy reading the subtitles and being unable to focus on the movie. I agree it is a problem. but only at the first. After a few films it becomes second nature and you don't consciously look at the subtitles. One more thing you need to be prepared for is the diversity of the styles. The Japanese and Koreans may shock you with gore and wild themes, the Chinese may befuddle you with people almost flying, the Indians bedazzle you with the dance and colours, the Iranians with their down to earth storytelling and so on. Whatever they might be, there are something you should never miss if you are a genuine movie lover.
So if you are out there and haven't tasted the magic yet, you could start now. Given below is the list of few selected films which could be pretty nice to start off your foreign language film tryst. They will reel you in and make you fall in love. Also the foreign language film nominations at the Oscars are a good place to start off. The order has been made moving from the right of the world map to the left. Also a random mix to appeal to the enthusiast and also the newbie. If you find some movie interesting do let me know by adding it in the comments.

Japanese: Yojimbo / Batoru Rowaiaru
Korean: Oldboy / Yeopgijeogin geunyeo
German: M / Das Leben der Anderen / Der Untergang
Italian: La vita è bella / Nuovo cinema Paradiso / Ladri di biciclette
French: Du rififi chez les hommes / La science des rêves
Random picks Cidade de Deus / Det sjunde inseglet / Vals Im Bashir / Ying xiong

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Hello after a long time (again). As I mentioned once before this blog seems to take new direction each time I take a break and come back with more content. Each time I come back I promise greater content and sustainability. This time I am really serious about it. I have decided to shed the excess workload, streamline work and focus on few projects and too much cinema is on top of that list.

Too Much Cinema shall shed its laziness (and me of course) and become an active and interactive blog. For this, to increase the quality and visibility of this project I have decided to take the 31 day challenge to build a better blog (problogger). I really have heard good reviews of it and I am disclosing it before hand so that you may not crib about it later.

The first task is to write a multi level Elevator pitch for the blog. It helps me understand what this blog is for and also tells you, the reader what to expect from this one. I am pretty keen on this blog not being like all the other blogs out there and an effort has been made to make it special and save you and it from redundancy. This is how it shall go for too much cinema.


Too Much Cinema-where (good)cinema is everything

The short pitch:

It is a film blog dealing mostly with good movies from different time and different parts of the world.

The long pitch:

I love movies. There is no discrimination based on genre, language or the time they are from. Only heavy discrimination against the bad ones.

I dont review (or watch) all movies and definitely keep away from the universally acknowledged crappy ones. More often than not you will find movies reviewed here to be the 'pick among the lot'. On the rare case it isnt I write why I dint like movies which some sections of people really loved. Also I have strict no spoiler policy. In case something is important for the review it shall be covered in the vaguest of ways. So this is one place you can look for good movies without any spoilers.

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DR: French faves of last year

The two movies I am writing about in this post have a lot in common. Well having something in common is what made me put them in a Double Review. They are both the movies which garnered the most hype overseas, in the UK and US especially. They have been nominated for a huge slew of awards and have won a lot. They are both reflections of the main issue of the plot. Just dealing with the present and a small period in the lives of the characters, not much of the past and end with a hopeful future.

I Loved You So Long (Il y a longtemps que je t'aime)

She was the woman Hugh Grant ignored during the four weddings and a funeral and the lover of English patient and Jeremy’s Clarkson’s idea of the most beautiful woman. Kristin Scott Thomas is wonderful and talented actress who has played a varied set of roles and easily one of finest of the contemporary English ones. With her beauty and talent it’s surprising she hasnt moved to Hollywood. In a way it has been a blessing with her dabbling with a lot of French cinema and this I believe is one of the best of her efforts. ‘I loved you for so long’ is a story of a woman who has just been releas24long.xlarge1ed from prison and has to live with her kid sister who she hasnt seen in 15 years. It shows how Juliette Fontaine (Kristin Scott Thomas) is moving into normal life after such a long stay in prison and at the same time finding love of her sister at a time when she thought all her family has disowned and abandoned her. Juliette is a very strong woman who can take whatever life throws at her and yet inspite of all her strength she cant forget her past. It was an amazing performance by Kristin Scott Thomas and she along with the Elsa Zylberstein, actress who played her sister give the movie its special place.
In many ways this movie reminded me of Rachel Getting Married, where too the elder sister has had a bad past closely related to the family and her life has gone into a disarray. The younger sister who has had to deal with the trauma associated and who builds her life around it and yet makes something out of it. During the movie they bond and resolve their issues, with the younger sister alleviating the pain of the elder one. ‘I loved you for so long’ might have not the overall brilliance flow of Rachel Getting Married but it really stands out as a heart-touching movie due to the lead performances.

The Class (Entre Le Murs-Between the walls)

When a movie wins the Palme D’ Or at the Cannes film festival and attracts praise from critics world wide it definitely evokes an interest in you. And when the subject matter of it is quite commonplace you get even more piqued as to how it turned out so praiseworthy. It has metacritic rating of 94 and also features in several critics' top ten lists. After a long wait, I got to watch the Class and I must say i was underwhelmed. I understand the nuances and the beauty of realism and all but I fail to understand why this movie stands apart?
classThe Class is a semi autobiographical account of François Bégaudeau’s former job as a literature teacher in a Parisian mid-school. François Bégaudeau starred and scripted the movie after the novel he wrote in 2006. He shows us the rich and overwhelming diversity of a class in such a school and how each student has such a baggage of their low income background, identity of their place of origin and religion along with the usual issues which every other teen has to deal with. It makes a volatile atmosphere and yet somehow its is short of exploding. This drives most teachers crazy and they have their limits which makes the task of reform and education more daunting. Any slip on their part, like I see in most western societies, is met with the harshest rebuke. I don't understand how education is possible at a place when the teachers mind. body and spirit are tied down by the system and the students are living with closed minds. How can education happen in such hostile environment?
The movie flows really well and it is quite commendable that it does for there are no concrete plot points along which the movie is woven around but its just a series of well knit snapshots of a class of students in particular year attending this particular subject. There is not a moment where you are bored during watching this seemingly plain movie because of the vivaciousness of the characters(read students) involved. You never once get that we are in a movie and people are acting and saying out lines written for them and in this too the movie is commendable! But what is it that makes it tick and so brilliant I dont comprehend. It maybe my being an amateur or just absence of the right perspective. Whatever it is this is my final say. The Class is a lovely film dealing and a very interesting watch but doesnt really excite you at any point of time during the film or makes you think about it at later which is the whole basis for a great movie.

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Review: Watchmen

The Comic book: Watchmen is the critically acclaimed and wildly popular graphic novwatchmenel/limited series comic book written by Alan Moore and was published in 1986-7 and is set in alternate history where superheroes emerge in the 1940’s and 50’s, US wins the Vietnam war and Richard Nixon has been elected for a third term. It talks about various issues plaguing the society in the 80’s like the fear of nuclear holocaust and detriment of morals in the society and also the angst and troubles of retired and active superheroes especially the wrath they face from the people they set out to protect. The novel is multilayered and very complex in all its essence ie the plot, narrative and themes. It was called unfilmable by several people including the author himself. Its movie adaptation has been in the pipeline right since it was published and finally materialised in 2009.
The Movie: With huge resources and lots of budding talent at hand, Zack Snyder(who made 300) finally got the Watchmen project off the ground and played to his forte of brilliant visualization and loyal adaptation of source material. The first worked perfectly and the second was his undoing. He started out brilliantly with the titles sequence which was very innovative and crucial part of the movie laying the background story for the ‘Minutemen’, the original superheroes and the childhoods of the current generation. However when he cut out the parallel stories running along with the main one(he put em in a direct to video release named Tales of the Black Freighter) and ignored some events due to the crunch of time and excess complication for an average movie-goer the plots loses its lustre and seems trivial and still remained very confusing for lots of people.For Zack Snyder, the Watchmen was like a loaded gun which he lifted and aimed well but miscalculated the firing intensity and range which led to the movie veering out of control by the time second half started and ending on a confused note with hardly any fizz at all.

The problem: The portrayal of Rorsach and the Comedian were brilliant and also they were the only genuine superheroes people are used to seeing, the others being weak willed, confused and resigned to their fates. This was captured well in the comic but the weak direction and acting which was shallow and pretentious, just misguided everyone who dint read the comic. The casting was bad and most performances were flaccid. Flaccid was what Night Owl was when he tried to make love to Silk Spectre in his place. That showed his insecurity and lack of confidence without a suit on.There is a background story giving the reason for this in the novel and also this was supposed to be understood when they finally do it on the top of Archie in the Sky. Snyder totally lost it and audience were clueless about what is happening and they had to endure an atrocious sex scene. This is what happened through out when he left off the fine details which gave strength to the central plot. The sound track too was entirely made of all time hits and was very cheesy. And why the hell were you playing the Sound of Silence during the burial of Comedian?
The Solution: I am no big shot movie producer or script writer but the Watchmen is not unfilmable. It is just cannot be condensed into 2 or 3 hours. What should have been done is a two part movie or a 6 part miniseries with nothing edited out including the actual mind bomb and the Black Freighter. All its ugliness the book portrays and the goriness which ensues by the end, which was hard to be read on print if reproduced on the big screen in its relevance would have made a cinematic masterpiece and I believe Snyder is still the best man to do it, just not in the one film captures it all medium.

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Spanish Film Festival: More reviews

On the third day of the film festival, my second, I got to watch two totally different films both set in the present unlike 13 roses. They were Fermat’s Room and Seven Billiard Tables. It was fun watching two thoroughly yet differently entertaining films back to back

Fermat’s Room (La Habitación de Fermat)

The movie,as everybody else would mention in their review, starts with the line, “If you dont know what prime numbers are, you can stop watching this movie”. Quite a bold statement and kinda nonsensical too because the movie is not laden with heavy mathematical jargon or thesis. It is just a thriller woven around a few mathematicians. 4 mathematicians who donot know each other are invited to a secret meeting to solve an mathematical puzzle and each of them is given a pseudonym for use during the meeting. They are asked to dridstw_080425_fermatve to a certain place and find a Car with a pda telling them where to go. After a while they find themselves in a room at a warehouse. Their host Fermat has to leave due to some circumstance and they are left to solve certain problems the pda gives them. The trick here is they are solving for their lives. Each time they arent able to give the answer within a time frame the room begins to shrink. What they do from then on forms the rest of the story. 
The movie is a standard thriller wearing a mathematician’s moustache. It is very easy to follow and has all the cliches associated with a movie of this sort. A pretty girl, a scape goat, an ambitious young man, some one out for revenge etc. That doesnt mean I discredit the way it is made. The premise is decent and the performances are pretty good. It would make a nice movie to watch on a weekend night.

7 Billiard tables (Siete mesas de billar francés)

7 billiard tables was by far my favorite movie of the lot during the Spanish film festival. It starts out more or less the same way as Volver (starring Penelope Cruz) did and plays out in the same way110 showing a strong single woman who generally lives in the city having to go back to her hometown and family and in doing so reviving and enthusing spirit into the lives of people around her.
This is the story of Angela who gets a double blow of the death of her father and the truth about her cheating and conman of a husband. She goes back to her roots and tries to resurrect her father’s billiards hall. This is the also the story of how a man has wrecked the lives of three other people, living selfishly and always serving his own interests at the cost of others’. This man, ie Angela’s father is not even alive during the movie and yet holds an iron grip over the people involved. As the movie goes on they try and let go. Every character is well carved and thoroughly examined and each person in the story is very likeable.
The movie sails through the story and the viewer is pulled into the life of a middle class spanish household. Unlike the usual dramas the movie has several light moments and I had a great time smiling and laughing at the situational humour spread through out the film. The end kind of fizzes out but overall the movie is delightful to watch. I would love to see more movies like these but yeah that is because I am a sucker for dramas on urban middle class with severe issues.

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Spanish film festival: Report and review

It has been quite sometimes since a film festival open to general public happened in Hyderabad. The last one I got to attend was way back in 2007 when there was 100 movie 33 day film festival at Ravindra Bharathi, A Spanish Film Festival happened in Hyderabad from 20th to 22nd of March at Prasadz Multiplex, Hyderabad. Thimageis film festival was organized by Moving Images and Team Work Productions and backed by the Spanish High Commission in India. The festival happened in Delhi and Chennai too a few days, before and after their showing in Hyderabad.
The team had a slew of movies from which they selected a few for each city and screened them for  general audience. It was surprising that the passes were available for free inspite of the screening being at a popular multiplex. I think it was crucial in filling up the seats for all shows which frankly I dint expect to happen. Also the mention of the festival in Prasadz ad in various newspapers did help in spreading the word. The organizers were expecting some of the actors and producers involved in the movies being screened to show up so that there could be a Q & A session after the movie but it dint happen as the expected delegates didnt turn up. I got to see three movies during the last two days and I was really satisfied with the way it was organized and happy with the kind of crowds it attracted. I had a great time watching the movies and I hope we could have more such festivals here in Hyderabad and it would be better with more publicity well before the event starts.
In this post and next, I shall review the three movies I got to see during the festival

Click read more for the review of 13 Roses.

13 Roses (Las 13 Rosas)

This movie is a real life story from the time of General Franco’s takeover of Spain. The country was already going through rough times due to war and after Franco assumed control their live only got worse. Everyone who had opposed or even not helped Franco was being persecuted, imprisoned even executed sometimes. People did not have their fundamental rights anymore and they lived by the 20080701012226-las.13.rosas.-aka.13.roses-.-2007-.dvdrip.xvid-iapula whims and mercies of the officials in the regime. In such circumstances, the movie shows the story of 13 women from different walks of life, different places of origin, some of them friends, some strangers, some totally innocent, some guilty by association and the rest guilty of speaking their mind. It takes us through their lives during the turbulent times, how they are extricated and imprisoned after cruelly being treated.
The movie is well paced, well shot and made to capture the pain and stigma of the women involved. It portrays their vibrant spirits and hope at the face of death and the tyranny of the government. It has a huge cast and the performances are really good. It is a very heavy drama and lesson of history showing Spain at those times. The subject matter makes it very easy to create interest but I thought the director could have made this movie more impactful and a greater cinematic experience than just witnessing a story. Do check it out if you can.

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Double Review(DR): Bolt and waltz with Bashir

Well this is quite a special post. This shall be the last one in the series of posts dealing with this years Oscars. Yes, I did drop the ‘Oscar Road’ tag due to the reviews being past the dead end sign. Also this deals with two movies belonging to my favorite genre: Animation. I am a big fan of animation movies and believe they arent given their due credit. We had reviewed two of the three oscar nominated animation movies ie Wall E and Kung Fu Panda in the last episode of our now discontinued podcast. Check it out @ . Here I talk about the remaining two animation movies nominated for the oscars this year.


Bolt is a marvellous movie about a dog with superpowers, er… Well who thinks he has superpowers. He is only a TV actor. Well this is not a spoiler because the viewer is told after the brilliant action sequence at the beginning. He is close to a young girl who is his co star and is made to believe she is bolt-firstlook his real owner. He gets transported to somewhere else by mistake and the movie is his journey back.  The movie is has some good animation, great characters(ie girl, the cat and the hamster) and good plot. It is very hilarious and has all the stuff you expect from an animation movie. Yes! Exactly all the stuff you need, making it at the same time the reason why people trivialise animation and love it. The reason it made it into the oscar list is because its strong moral plot, some great voice acting and its funniness. Ofcourse when Wall E and Kung Fu Panda are in the ring, you cant expect a Bolt to win. Do watch it because it is oodles of fun and if you, like me adore animation (you better do!) you will enjoy every moment.

Waltz With Bashir

When it comes to animation, all things Bolt is Waltz with Bashir is not. All things Waltz with Bashir is Bolt cant dream of. The slurry of emotions this ‘Waltz’ drowns you in will send an innocent dog cowering for help underneath the kitchen table.Waltz with Bashir takes animation to its next level something like what Wall-E and japanese stuff but on a different plane. Though the subject matter is different it is kinda similar to last year’s Persepolis. Animation in these two movies has been used to depict the surreal and complex emotions and graphical interpretations hard to capture in live action. Not saying they couldnt have been but animation makes it more easy and even more vivid. Surreal and Vivid being the key words here. It is made
Waltz with Bashir is the story of a man who is trying to recollect his past and meeting various people to do as he is unable to on his own. He was part of the Israeli army which took part in the 1982 lebanon war and cant remember any of that period. The movie gives you insight into what happened then and the ugliness of war. I gasped, was shocked, laughed, swayed and rolled as the movie went on. As i said the surreal and vivid imagery taunt and treat you as well as you can dream. Dream again being the key word. The movie is almost a dream, it deals with dreams and you wonder if you are dreaming after a while. It is a truly trippy experience which you must have.
Such the strength of the movie that I forgot to sell you its attention grabbing trivia. It is the first Israel animation movie released in theatres and won the Palme’ D Or at the Cannes fim festival and also the best foreign movie at the Golden Globes. The crew did an excellent job in making the movie and the brilliant soundtrack it is accompanied with only adds to the effect. I will keep going on about it but I shouldnt cos you need to feel the surreal and vivid dream like experience on your own.
Rating: 9/10
p.s: Oh i forgot this is a documentary of sorts. I might have forgotten to mention many things. But I wont make an effort to say anything else.

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Review: Milk

We, as a species are still evolving mentally, we make up our value systems via traditions, religion and society. And then we stick to them blindly and build hatred causing intense harm to those who dont believe in the same things we do. That has been the problem of humanity and gay movement is just another chipping bsean-penn-113008-2ack at having equal rights for every man. Whatever it is we are humans first and have equal rights. Harvey Milk tries to do exactly that. As he says violation of gay rights is violation of human rights, They might come after you next.
Milk is the true story of a man who was happy and confident of what he was. Harvey Milk was a born leader and enthused spirit into people around him. He united a usually low key and inactive collective of gay men and made them a force to reckon with. When discrimination became rampant and their needs being ignored he decided to stand for office. How we did that and how he won is the movie. It is very well scripted and save for a couple of scenes there is a momentum being built up as you go. You are truly enthused by the energy Harvey injects into you and gay supporter or not movie does rope you in.

After giving us a treat for eyes like Paranoid Park, Gus Van Sant cuts down on his brilliant visual style to focus on a strong story at hand. The shots are very good, especially the first few scenes between Harvey and Scott. There is a lot of classical music in the form of piano and opera as part of the background score during this scene and the rest of the movie. It was well done but I thought wasnt that effective during the second half. Sean Penn as Harvey Milk gives a brilliant performancsean-penn-milk-movie-in-character-harvey-toast-drinks-alcohol-party-crowd-men-1970s-hollywood-film-photoe and I was flabbergasted watching his transformation from the usual hunk he is to a realistically gay man. The body language spoke volumes and everything from his attire to speech was well modelled on the real Harvey Milk. Sean Penn gives adds another jewel of a performance to his already decorated career. Emile Hirsch was fantastic too as Cleve Jones, one of the friends and campaign members of Harvey Milk. Also James Franco plays Scott Smith, Harvey’s lover and initial campaign manager. Its great that both these actors who we last saw essay totally different roles in In to the Wild and Pineapple Express respectively have given amazing performances in this movie too. Victor Garber, Josh Brolin and Alison Pill play other major roles.
On the whole, the movie is a must watch for two simple reason, Sean Penn and Harvey Milk. Everybody needs to see Penn’s performance and know Milk’s story.Thats it!
Rating: 8/10

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Quick Review (qr) and Movie of the Week (Mw)

Quick Review (Qr)
There are some movies which need to be seen and there isnt much to talk about them except praise or derision. There are movies of which people have to be warned against and some more people have to warmed up to. With Quick Review we try and do exactly that; summarise the movie in a few lines instead of few paragraphs of talk. It makes sense because some movies dont warrant eloquent speech and some are better kept a surprise for the reader with short intro. Some others have to be beaten to death quick before somebody else is in harm’s way. Do expect a large chunk of quick reviews to be pop corn and rom com stuff along with some cheap skate stuff we couldnt avoid. However there might be some strokes of brilliance which we want to keep mum about and only persuade you to watch. You never know!
Movie of the Week (Mw)
Every week we shall strongly recommend one movie to be watched by you. This movie could have been selected for a host of reasons like its spell of magic, novel plot, entertainment value, brilliant portrayal, heartstring tugging emotions, masterful use of the medium etc. We shall try keep the movies as varied as possible with a promise of high quality.
Also for the sake of brevity in the post titles, Reviews shall be Rw and Double Review be Dr
Let us know what you think of the above features and also tell us if you have any specific features you would like to see.

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Review: Revolutionary Road

When two brilliant actors, who are among the best among their generation and a director who has captured human pathos in stunning and vivid displays of beauty and perdition get together to bring to the big screen a critically acclaimed novel capturing the angst ridden life of an American suburban couple in the 1950’s you get a devastating trip to Revolutionary Roadrevolutionary road
There has been much talk of how Richard Yates’ supposedly brilliant novel has been brought to screen and critcs remained indifferent or deadpanned to this effort of Sam Mendes. Not only Kate Winslet is working for the first time with her husband, this is the frst time since the epic Titanic since she and Leonardo Di Caprio have come together in movie. Since Titanic they have blossomed into such fine actors and their body of work is source of envy to any contemporary or upcoming actor and it is a surprise that inspite of their proclivity to act in multi starrers they havent had a chance to come together till this movie came along. And I saw it was a good thing because this movie, totally revolving around the lead couple, Frank and April Wheeler, gives them an apt stage to prove their prowess and to show how far they have come since Titanic. The performances are simply stunning and I cant fathom why they have been snubbed by the oscars this year.

Kate WInslet’s performance in this movie is powerful and definitely way superior to what she did in The Reader. Its a pity that this role of hers dint get as much credit as it deserved. Her portrayal of a late 50’s housewife who is a failed actress and not at all happy with her life and needs to search some meaning to stay relevant is simply of the highest quality. Her character moves from one mood to another rapidly and tries to make sense of a life where she feels she doesnt belong and Winslet comfortably glides along perfectly portraying every emotion of fear, confusion, betrayal, love, hatred etc. Leonardo plays the husband who hates his job and though he understands the ‘hopeless emptiness’ of his life being chalked out as everybody else’s doesnt try make a serious effort to change it. He plays very well a man who is constantly challenged by his wife, who he loves dearly and yet cant make her happy. Also a must mention is the oscar nominated role of mentally deranged mathematician played by Michael Shannon. In the short yet explosive screen time he has he twists and influences the lead characters heavily and is like the soothsayer of the story unravelling the mystery behind their lives.
revolutionary-road DonBettyDraper1
As I began watching this movie, it strongly reminded me of Mad Men, the critically acclaimed AMC series which is set just a few years down the line. I happen to be a big fan of the series and I cant help notice the striking similarities between the two. A suburban household comprising of an attractive couple and two children. The husband works in the city and catches a train everyday, the wife is a housewife who was once a model and they have girl and a boy. Remove the ad agency part of Mad Men and what you get is Revolutionary Road. Both have been know to be accurate representation of the times and I guess it is how those times were with people cheating on their spouses, puffing as chimneys, drinking like fish, always lost in thought trying to discover their true selves and hardly talking to each other in the process. They were some painful times and hence very rich material for brilliant fiction.
Back to Revolutionary Road, Sam Mendes did a fine job by not letting the movie linger too long at any point of time and slowly yet strongly building up the friction between the lead pair. The costume and set designs were spot on. But the movie is only as good and brilliant as its plot and how well it challenges the viewer. I guess this one reaches a fairly high mark for its premise. If you can stand heavy drama definitely for you, or else you will ask me what was the point?
update: As my friend Chaitanya pointed out and I had noticed while watching the movie but failed to mention was the haunting background score which did a great job in building up steam for the high tension sequences and also considerable chunks of this 2 hour movie were left without any sound which only added to the scenes.

Rating: 8/10
p.s: Kate Winslet was breathtakingly beautiful in the movie.

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