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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Review: The curious Case of Benjamin Button

David Fincher is one of my favourite directors and each movie of his has had me spellbound. I thought last time round Zodiac was badly treated at all the award ceremonies and was one of my top 5 films of the year of 07. With work like Fight Club and Seven to his credit you frankly dont expect mediocrity from Fincher. All his tales have a unique mix of thrill, adventure, human nature, depth and novelty. Well I wouldnt say The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was mediocre but it was not as awesome as I thought it could have been. This one had a lot of depth and reflection on human nature but hardly any of thrill, adventure and excitement. Though the plot was essentially unique being based on the F Scott benjamin-button-4Fitzgeralds’s story of same name telling the story of a man who ages backwards; it goes on in a fashion quite common to biopics where the whole story is narrated from start to end. We trace the steps of Benjamin Button as we move on never harping too long on any part of his life and for some reason I cant explain all his life is just in the same vein and nothing is too important or too trivial. It works and the movie is quite breathtaking technically thanks to flawless art directions and brilliant sets and costumes but it doesnt shock, awe and delight your instincts like an uncommon story dealing with age and life can do.

This brings me to the question, how would your life be if you were like Benjamin Button. Quite the same if they let you live, a lot more exposure and wide media coverage if we lived in this modern age as world easily gets around. However Button was born in 1918 as the war ended and his father puts him quite luckily at the footsteps of an old age home, which quite practically is the only place he wouldnt have grabbed attention. If we were there, more or less thats how our lives would have turned out and this point exactly is the boon and bane for the movie. Fitzgerald and Eric Roth did think it through and do a good job at it ( I dunno who did what as I havent read the story yet) and they chose a complete life a reflection of deeper things which affect man in general like the phenomenon of aging, youth being wasted on the young, living life losing your loved ones and above all tolerance, love and understanding of various people we across of our lives. The questions asked and explored were all right but I thought they could have been done more effectively with such a running time and resources of money and stunning cast at their disposal. And what if they hadnt chosen this path for Button?benjamin-button
Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Taraji P Henson give brilliant performances and the special effects team did a marvellous job of forging different ages and changes seamlessly into the fabric as the movie moved on. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett get to play such deep and emotionally taxing characters which have to endure so many things in life, live together and love each other when their lives are going in the opposite direction; and they do it really well. Quite a good movie and if you get a chance watch it on the big screen(too bad I dint get to do it).
Rating: 7/10

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It has been exactly one month since the last post on this blog. We were running full steam with the Oscar Road and suddenly we hit a road block. The road ended for us and everything else passed us by. The Oscars were given away, new flicks have come out and many other things have happened. However we were stuck due to various reasons. Me and the others were busy with personal stuff and couldnt make enough time to contribute. We apologise for the break. Clearly the sourcing of the content for the blog wasnt thought through. We are making a few changes there.

Turning a new page, It will have new contributors and not just flooded with my stuff. The quality shall be maintained and we plan to have a post everyday. It was our plan to be the place for you to get quality movie reviews, news and other content. Before we broke off, the content was flowing in well in form of reviews and award coverage. We shall have more stuff now. Below are the guidelines we set for ourselves and stuff we need to bring to you.
  1. Most movies we review here shall be of some importance and the average rating will be high due to the simple reason that we and in specific I generally stay away from movies which known to be bad already unless something unique associated with them.
  2. We shall have reviews, quick reviews, marathons, recommendations and several movie centric features.
  3. New contributors. If you think you have content to share do let us know. We would love to share your stuff on our blog.
  4. We hope to have a post everyday but it will take sometime before we fall into the groove. Hopefully by the end of this month with a good crew we can do that and maybe more than that.
Thanks for coming back and we hope too much cinema entertains you well. Do leave a comment on what you would like to see on this blog. We would love your input.

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