Monday, September 14, 2009

Cast Away (2000)

Cast Away (2000)

Director : Robert Zemeckis.
Genere : Adventure / Drama.
Cast : Tom Hanks.
Rating : Classic.

Have you ever thought about going back to the beginning, where man is just himself? Can he survive without the modern gadgets and tools? What about electricity, pure water and clean cooked food? Man is a social being; so can he survive by his own. In “Cast Away” Tom Hanks, a time conscious busy man, happens to be on an isolated island far away from civilizations surviving a plane crash, having nothing but time. Four years of absolute solitude- without proper food, water or shelter. What can you expect on a small island in the middle of an ocean? Its man vs. nature. He has to start from the beginning – invent fire, make Stone Age tools, fishing, hunting etc to keep him alive.
Hope is the base of humanity, a little bit of “hop” can do the impossible. It accelerates our survival instincts. “The ship wreck piece”, his “ball-pal”, unopened parcels etc are all his symbols of hope and with it he finally decides to escape to civilization. Sometimes life will be more difficult than a hostile island to survive. The return of a long lost, supposedly dead man to his normal life won’t be that easy.
Tom Hanks with his outstanding performance made this movie unforgettable. Actually this is a one man show by Tom Hanks supported by the director Robert Zemeckis from behind. Half of the movie doesn’t have any dialogs, but Hanks made the film talk by itself. “Cast Away” is recommended as a must see for all Tom Hanks fans, if you are not one don’t worry this will turn you one.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

City of God (2002)

Cidade de Deus (2002)

Director : Fernando Meirelles.
Genere : Crime.
Cast : Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Alice Braga.
Rating : Master piece

City of God tells the story from the poverty sunken slums of Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro is actually a battle field; survival comes with two choices, be a part of the crime element or let consumed by it. Li'l Zé (Leandro Firmino)growth from an angry child to a trigger happy, blood thirsty warlord give a brief but strong exposure to the crime world of Cidade de Deus. Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues) never expected anything from this slum, but his ticket to a better life came from the same battle field. He was offered a very risky job of taking pictures of the gangs and their activities by a newspaper. His dream of becoming a photographer and a better life depends on this performance. City of god is intense with heartless killings, blood trials, rape, and gang war all run and maintained by kids or mere teenagers. Throughout the story, poverty stands out as a reality and advocates for much of the happenings with unbelievable honesty. Is the pain of poverty strong enough to decay the deep-rooted humanity and romanticism even from a child’s sole, or is it just a reflection of the society.
City of god is a perfect package comes with stunning performance, fantastic visuals, and a well formatted screenplay. Director Fernando Meirelles’s approach with style and control is perfectly backed by the cinematographer César Charlone. Bráulio Mantovani’s work with the screenplay enables the smooth navigation between 60’s to 80’s through 70’s. But the real claps goes to the actors, mostly untrained kids, who takes us to a world of ultimate crime and mischief are the real heroes of this true story.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shoot 'Em Up (2007)

Shoot 'Em Up (2007)

Director : Michael Davis.
Genere : Action / Thriller / Comedy.
Cast : Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci.
Rating : Must Watch

Well I can’t say this as a heartwarming movie or it carries you in its magical arms, but it does pumps up your adrenalin. At least I can say this is what one expects from a Hollywood flick of its kind. Like its name, it never stops shooting from the very beginning. But guess what; I was enjoying the music of guns and bullets. Shoot 'Em Up is a perfect trinity of action packed thriller-comedy, which doesn’t have even a single minute of boredom to let you take your eyes off.
In one line- it’s the story of a hero along with a beauty tries to save a baby from the villains by shooting them up. “My god! Do we really suck or this guy really that good?” I can’t say may be like our hero said “Eating carrots can magnificently improve one’s eye sight” Or maybe the others are shooting blanks, but I truly enjoyed it. Although I give full credits to the special effects team (both Audio and video), I must say the dialogs are perfectly written to go well with the spirit of the action that’s going on the screen. All Thumps-Up for Michael Davis. And the reason I didn’t categorize this mainly as a comedy is just because the hero doesn’t kills the baby himself at the end (probably for a better cause, like saving the world from a deadly virus the baby is carrying or something) and it doesn’t have Tom Cruise from Tropic Thunder as the main villain.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Waltz with Bashir (2008)

Vals Im Bashir (2008)

Director : Ari Folman.
Genere : Biography / Drama / War.
Cast : Animation.
Rating : Master piece

Media and movies have created a strong impression in peoples mind that heroes are someone who descend from heaven and fights for his country until his last breath. And enemy is someone who is born and raised as evil and all he has in mind is the destruction of his adversaries. There are some films which do not follow these rules; Waltz with Bashir is one of them.
Waltz with Bashir is a journey through the memories of the main character, that often switches between real and unreal worlds. The film portrays the life and actions of young boys send to war. Before entering the Lebanese soil they sings, jokes and enjoys as though they were on an excursion, after entering Lebanese soil they were greeted with RPG's and AK47 fires from all directions. Without knowing where the attack is coming from, all they can do was shoot hysterically without knowing who they were shooting at and in which direction they were shooting. Every war is complex and bloody, those who really fought it can never forget it. The hallucination and trauma haunts them even after 20 years.
The main theme of this movie is the Sabra and Shatila massacre, in which Christian Phalangists kills thousands of Palestinian refugees, for the assassination of Bachir Gemayel. It vividly tells that war is a slaughter house for both combatants and no one can be innocent. The conclusion of the movie is very simple and unbelievable and may be unacceptable for many. Killing is not a joke nor a game; the memories will haunt you even if it were your worst enemy. David Polonsky and Yoni Goodman along with Ari Folman had to be congratulated for their outstanding work in creating a surreal world and an excellent combination of cinematic and documentary style through hand drawn animations.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Gandhi (1982)

Gandhi (1982)

Director : Richard Attenborough.
Genere : Biography / Drama / History.
Cast : Ben Kingsley, Rohini Hattangadi, Candice Bergen, John Gielgud.
Rating : Master piece

Albert Einstein said(on Mahatma Gandhi): "Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth!". This might be the greatest challenge that Richard Attenborough might have faced while directing “Gandhi”; to transform an extraordinary epic of a simple man, who lived an unbelievable life to become a legend, into a moving picture format. Even “My Experiments with Truth” won’t be enough to understand the Mahatma. In this film, one of the most complex and well said biographical movies of all time, over 50 years of his biography has been drafted.

The movie starts while Gandhi was in South Africa where he was dragged out of a train. This was the incident that gave young Gandhi the fire or motivation to fight against apartheid. It was in South Africa he experiments his various methods of Satyagraha. And latter he returns to India to continue his activities there. The movie ends with the assassination of Gandhi by an extremist Hindu radical.

“Gandhi” deals mainly with wide perspectives and mostly with Gandhi’s contribution to the Indian Independence, than concentrating the person-Gandhi. In this manner Attenborough was able to focus more on the movie and could retell the epic in a fast phase. The Art department and Cinematography have played a crucial and fantastic role in recreating the time and places for the story. And the most outstanding thing about this movie is Ben Kingsley’s Oscar winning transformation as Gandhi.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Chess Players (1977)

Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977)

Director : Satyajit Ray.
Genere : Comedy / Drama / History.
Cast : Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Amjad Khan, Richard Attenborough.
Rating : Master piece

Chess is said to be the king of games and the game of the kings. The objective of the chess is to defeat the opponent’s King with tactical moves. It’s almost like a strategic diplomacy. In this movie “The Chess Players”, set in the mid 1850’s, Satyajit Ray shows two such games in parallel, one is a chess game played between Mirza Sajjad Ali (Sanjeev Kumar) and Mir Roshan Ali (Saeed Jaffrey) and the other between The King of Oudh and The East India Company.

Oudh a wealthy country is ruled by a cultured and aesthetic king, the Wajid Ali Shah (Amjad Khan), but the colonial aspirations of British Empire was not ready to accept him. They were only eager in annexing the wealthy Oudh. While this story progress, a parallel story shows two chess-obsessed nobleman who does nothing but play chess all day. They are not interested in anything else, what they need is just a peaceful place to retire from everyday life and play chess undisturbed. The King of Oudh also exhibits a similar character; he is not interested in defending the British or his throne. He devotes his life towards art and poetry.

This is a movie that is to be read between the lines. Ray uses chess as a metaphor to showcase various characteristic of human nature and the situations exists in India. “The Chess Players” can be classified as a multidimensional political satire. The Indian style chess played by Mirza and Mir can be said as a representation of the then Indian rulers while the British used a more aggressive and fast game for easy ending. In the end The King decides to give up his throne and crown to General Outram (Richard Attenborough) to avoid bloodshed. In the mean time Mirza and Mir fights over a chess game. But, when every game reaches its climax a new game starts and every one will forget about the old ones. By hearing the takeover by the British Empire Mirza and Mir decides to change their chess play from the Indian style to the English style.

“The Chess Players” is one of a kind film by the great Master Directior Satyajit Ray. Since the subject of this movie is historic and allegoric in nature, an understanding of the region and time is recommended for full digestion.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

El Laberinto del fauno(2006)

Director : Guillermo del Toro.
Genere : Drama / Fantasy / Mystery .
Cast : Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú.
Rating : Master piece

OK, we have seen children with AK-47 in the face of war. But do they really belong there? Could they be interested in bloodshed or killing each other? Some times when the world around you becomes so much miserable and uninteresting the mind may look for alternatives to amuse itself. Fairytales always tells stories of a better world and gives nothing but hope. Pan's Labyrinth can be said as a modern day fairytale. It’s a seamless mix of reality and fantasy. The movie is set in Spain during the civil war and is about a girl and her wonderland.

The story is told through the eyes of Ofelia (played by Ivana Baquero), who along with her now pregnant mother has to move into the house of her stepfather Captain Vidal (played by Sergi López) in the middle of a dense forest. He is always busy fighting the rebels and cares only about the expecting new bone child of him. The new environment drives her to a world of her own where she is a princess who lost her kingdom and has to fight back. She has to complete three tasks to claim back her kingdom. As the movie progresses the tension on both worlds began to increase and finally they collides over an unforgettable beautiful climax.

Ivana Baquero and Sergi López are both perfect and have shown full justice towards their characters. Director cum Sreenwritter Guillermo del Toro have done a fantastic job by handling fantasy and reality with such indelibility. Javier Navarrete with his exceptional scores adds mystery to this beautiful fable. Pan's Labyrinth is an outstanding craft about fantasy, reality, beauty, hope and love; above all it’s a child’s prayer for a peace full world, where she can play safely and carelessly with her little brother, as in her wonderland.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

Director : Clint Eastwood.
Genere : History / War / Drama.
Cast : Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase.
Rating : Classic
War always is one sided, and so is any war movie. It is usual for a war movie to show enemies as demonic characters who is willing to do any inhuman things to kill the good or specifically the side where the camera is placed. So Clint Eastwood used two movies “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima” to show both sides. “Letters from Iwo Jima” stands by the Japanese side and their struggle to survive. The movie tells the story of Japanese soldiers fought on Iwo Jima through the letters unearthed from a Japanese Second World War tunnel in Iwo Jima. Iwo Jima is nothing but a volcanic island with no fresh water or food but strategically importance of Iwo Jima is vital for this war. Lt. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi was send not to win the war but to hold Iwo Jima as long as he could. He knows well that they are outnumbered and is in a no win situation. So he develops a strategy to make victory difficult for the enemy.

Unlike a usual Hollywood movie here the enemies are the Americans, the greatest encroachers of all time. The movie is told through the stories of Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya), Baron Nishi (Tsuyoshi Ihara), Shimizu (Ryo Kase), Lieutenant Ito (Shidou Nakamura) and Lt. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) which they performed to their finest. Iris Yamashita the screen writer has done a wonderful job and Eastwood was bold enough to use the Japanese language rather than making the Japanese soldiers speak English. “Letters from Iwo Jima” shows us the sacrifice and hardship of Japanese soldiers during the war and lets us think that even enemies are men and have life and reasons just like the others. Also recommends its counterpart “Flags of Our Fathers”.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Rear Window (1954)

Rear Window (1954)

Director : Alfred Hitchcock.
Genere : Thriller / Drama / Crime.
Cast : James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr.
Rating : Master piece
Voyeurism is in human nature, people likes sneak each other’s life whenever they get the opportunity, whether it’s in the form of a novel, a movie or even through your window- it’s the same. It is this very nature that makes “Rear Window” remarkable. L. B. Jefferies played by James Stewart is an adventurous photographer who can’t simply shut his curious eyes and sleep, just because his one leg is broke and trapped in his little apartment on a wheel chair. He becomes obsessed in watching his neighbors through their open windows and raised blinds. It is almost like watching a television with multiple channels. Soon he becomes suspicious that one of his neighbors might have killed his wife and disposed her of in pieces. He tries to find it out.

This is a well crafted movie with a little bit of everything for a perfect entertainer a suspense to discover which keep the thrill, a conflicting and “too perfect” romance, timely humor, and a cold blooded murder(without showing even a single drop of blood). Above all what makes “Rear window really fantastic is both the audience and the lead character is stuck to a chair and helpless. They can only sit and watch what is happening before their eyes. The camera never leaves Jefferies and most of the time it’s in his apartment so it only sees or hears what he sees or hears. With perfect script, brilliant acting and a fantastic cinematography, “Rear Window” is arguably a masterpiece from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Death Note (2006)

Desu nôto (2006)

Director : Shusuke Kaneko.
Genere : Adventure / Crime / Mystery.
Cast : Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ken'ichi Matsuyama, Asaka Seto.
Rating : Regular

Based on a popular Manga series, Japanese animated comic book, Death Note is a Live action thriller movie characterizing two exceptionally intelligent minds, namely L and Light. Light got possession of a book from the other world, the death-note, which is capable of killing people by writing their name on it. He began to use it for killing criminals with a dream of creating a crime free world. Owing to the increased rate of death the government was forced to start an investigation. L, a famous detective comes to help out. And the real battle begins.
Death Note altogether gives the feel of a graphic book, a bold experiment in direction by Shusuke Kaneko. With its vivid colors and cinematography the movie looks more like a peeled out page from a graphic novel. The script is self contained and has almost all ingredients to entertain a general audience. The movie manages to maintain a psychological tempo throughout and finishes with a suspenseful twist. Death Note is not merely a thriller; it questions the authority of power and shows how power manipulates by its own. Also recommends its sequel “Death Note: The Last Name”.