Friday, April 30, 2010

[Movie Review] Take Out. 2004. Mandarin.

Ever watched yourself gasp as they gut your soul and walk away from you? Ever felt like that fish that is hooked out, but thrown back into the waters with a hole in it's heart?

Take out will take you there.

The 9 hours that you live with Ming Ding, as you become him, you will never want to live that way again. Every passing minute that Ming is on his run-down bicycle, you'd wish is the last one. It's a story to get inspired from. It's a story to fight with, and for. It's a story to learn to persevere in adversity.

Oh how Ming becomes your hero from a common home delivery guy. He doesn't speak much. But his eyes do. His soaked feet do. His hurting bones do. And his bike's paddles do.

Take Out

In one day, the director makes you live one full life-time of hope, fear, courage, strong-will, and death of a soul.

Beware. It's not a feel good movie. The end message is not a glamorous one. However, it will take you closer to appreciating what you have. Hopefully, then, you will not complain much about the life that you have, that HDTV that you couldn't buy, the boat that you can't afford, and that expensive party you couldn't throw.

Watch it. It will give you a perspective into what life means to some of us.

I rate it 4.9/5.0.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

[Movie Review] Pyaar Impossible. 2010. Hindi.

Just finished watching 2 hours 15 minutes of "Pyaar Impossible" in 30 minutes (fast fwd, Netflix online).

Do they really think young generation is that stupid that we will hail Uday Chopra for making a super-unified-Opetating System all in his home lab (an OS that works perfectly on ANY computer that exists, and ANY mobile platform that exists too)? VMWare kya teil bech rahi hai itne saalon se? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..

But wait, it doesn't stop there. Dino Morea gets impressed by the 'software' after barely seeing a splash screen, AND manages to copy all this wonderful software on a pen drive, that too in seconds!

AND in the end, the way original author is decided is by 'who can enter the correct password' test. And don't even get me started on how the smartie Uday manages to break into a top secure server room. WTF?

These big shot movie makers really need some tech consulting. Stupid crawlers!

In short, this movie has nothing worth attention except Priyanka Chopra, and her daughter.

I say we start boycotting such stupid movies. After all how long would we let the big banner guys make movies on stupid themes of love on campus, again, and again, and again, and again...? Enough already! Make some meaningful movies about someone making big in life because of their values, or hard work. There are many many such stories if we just look around. No one has any budget to make biographies on Pres. Abul Kalaam Azaad, or Infosys founder Mr. Narayan Murthy, or even movies that are socially relevant.

I rate this movie 1.0/5.0. What a sheer waste of time!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

[Movie Review] Bliss (Mutluluk). Turkish. 2007.

Bliss (Mutluluk) 2007 (Turkish).

All the blue waters you will see in the frames, there is only one more thing more chaste in there: Meryem.

One village. It's customs. It's gullible people. And then there's her: Meryem.

All the power of the man. All the curses of humanity. All the tainted memories. And one; just one: Meryem.

It's a treat not only for the eyes, but also for the soul. All hell breaks lose. Yet she lives: that Meryem.

So clear that her eyes speak. So humble that the waves bow. So strong that the hearts change. What a soul: that Meryem!

It's an exceptional story with extraordinary character renditions and a breathtaking cinematography. And you can learn a bit of Turkish too!

I rate it 4.8/5.0.

[Movie Review] Sous Les Bombes (Under The Bombs). Arabic. 2007.

Sous Les Bombes (Under The Bombs) 2007, Arabic, is not about terrorism. Neither is it about religion, or extremism.

It is a story about a mother and a son separated by unfortunate bombings of a conflicted region in Lebanon.

It starts with Zeina rushing to Lebanon where she finds fear, apprehension, military, international media, destruction, distraught families. And then she finds Tony: a brave Christian cab driver. Both start on a dangerous journey to the disputed region, with their own motives (alert: Tony's motives do not see light until the very end).

What followed was beyond my predictions, and was subtle yet gripping. I forgot that I was watching a movie and not a well crafted documentary (I still believe some of the characters were actual victims of the war... I cannot fathom stage actors bringing the creepy calm that you see on their faces in some of the frames).

Tony, who starts with a greed to squeeze most of Zeina's money owing to her desperation, unravels his true self just when she needs it the most (I will keep the details for you to enjoy).

The frames are stitched together with eerie monologues, empathetic dialogues, poor yet helping hands, a failing state, and a dry yet gorgeous scenery of rural Lebanon.

In the end, sacrificing in their own ways, they do get within hand's reach of Karim, Zeina's lost son.

But are they able to get to him? And what happens to their life thereafter? Does Zeina leave her uninterested business-man husband for a stranger she just met, because he provided more for her in 3 days than her partner of 20 years?

Watch it now to know more. I guarantee a wash out of all your strong prejudices against the Arabic people. You will find that common people nowhere want to bear wars, and the losses that fall out. You will realize that underneath that stereotyped Middle-Eastern face of Tony lies a young and soft heart who enjoys music, food, dreams and a struggle to get to them.

I rate it 4.7/5.0.

[Movie Review] Matrubhumi: A Nation Without Women. Hindi w/English Subtitles. 2003.

It is an articulated nightmare that rattles your sub-conscious and then slowly recedes back into reality. I watched this movie as a petrified, collapsed, and disgusted soul. The most dangerous part: it didn't seem far from what has been happening in one of the world's richest cultures. More than shame and humiliation, I felt relief that none of the people of my generation that I know are participating in such gender discrimination.

Somebody said that this movie is perverse, and doesn't fit what Indian culture stands for. Well it is perverse. But it is ultra-fiction. It is to art cinema what sci-fi is to action movies. It is a bit too much to grasp, but nothing that you can't imagine happening if newborns were to be killed based on their gender.

The best way to describe this masterpiece is that it cut a piece off my existence, and then smeared it with burning gun powder. It's a mark that probably will never go away, and will keep reminding me how not to treat a female child, teen, or adult.

I rate it 4.9/5.0.

[Movie Review] Missing. English.1982.

I almost stopped watching this movie about 1/3rd of it's way into the plot. I am so glad I didn't.

It's not just a political drama. It's about the defeat of transparency at the hands of virtues of a state. It shows how vulnerable and dispensable we are even in the world's richest (republican) democracy.

Everyone in the movie has a role that is more or less justified. But the character that brazes a spear through your chest is that of Jack Lemmon's. It's a movie I won't soon forget.

I rate this movie 4.7/5.0.

[Movie Review] The Stoning of Soraya M. Persian. 2008.

I just finished watching "The Stoning of Soraya M. (2008), Persian" and can't believe my eyes!!! The worst part, it's based on a true incident. It's as bad as the Sati tradition in India, which thank goodness, has been abolished for good.

All the emotional and religious drama apart, it is a convincing and appealing screenplay of a strong heart wrenching novel. There are times in the movie where you want to pause and change the outcome.

Shame on humanity. Shame on all the technology, all the first world B.S. talk, all the Star Wars fiction, all the HD tv hungry middle class, and all ambitious enterpreneurs trying to change the world. There are still bodies around that leave their last breath while getting stoned by spineless cowards.

I refuse to call myself a proud citizen of the world as long as things like this happen. Religion only turns humans into animals, and that's all I have to say on this.

[Movie Review] Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta). Spanish. 2004.

"Before he changed the world the world changed him"

[Movie Review] Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta) (2004).

Philanthropy, adrenaline, passion, love, and breathtaking views. It's a story of what you are not. It's a story of what you don't know you miss, because you never dared to experience it.

It is as authentic as the air you breathe, the leaf you don't crush, the tears you hide. Two friends who take on a trip for fun and adventure. And an year later, they find home in realizing the pretense they had been living all along. They meet hostile boundaries but loving people. They see pain. They live suffering. They fall in love, then come out of it, and then fall again only this time it's with what they really love - compassion, truth, genuine human to human respect.

They dare. They learn. And in just one year, their soul shakes off the prejudices. They are human again.

A must watch. I give it 4.85/5.0!

[Movie Review] Midnight Express. English and Turkish. 1978.

I just lived a life and a half behind walls. My soul churned away from the body and gasped for matter. I checked my toes when oozing blood split his nails. I screamed and cursed when he found the other end of the tunnel stoned.

Be warned: it will make you feel helpless. And hopeless. You may not like the freedom you enjoy anymore. Or perhaps you will cherish it as a gift: each day, every day.

"Midnight Express" is not a common tale of heroism and Hollywood stunts. Neither is it about a new age youth that believed more in freedom from responsibility than freedom of the ideals. It starts from a quick adventurous act, but slowly starts to taint your values and respect for humanity. In a way it's a good lesson for those who think the world is their playground just because they were fortunate enough to be born to luxury and vanity.

What starts as apathy for a stupid act soon becomes a battle for human rights and freedom. This movie reminds you that you really cannot get away with any wrong deed. More in some places than others, but you will pay the price. Although in all fairness, Brad Davis was exquisite in his portrayal of the strong will and courage of Billy Hayes (did I mention it is based on a true story?:-).

I rate this move 4.8/5.0. It's pungent. But it's a bomb at that.

Here's a picture of the real Billy Hayes, the day he arrived in the U.S. on Oct 24, 1975 via Greece. It gives an eerie feeling looking through his eyes, esp after you have just seen the movie.

[Movie Review] Yi Ge Dou Bu Neng Shao (Not One Less). Mandarin. 1999.

It starts off as a slow Earthy tale of a 13 year old recent graduate who is forced to teach in the local primary school as the present (and the only) teacher had to leave to look after his dying Mother. Soon you notice the dynamics of a budding teacher (who herself is adolescent) with a class of 28 students, making you long for the control and stature that she lacks. The kids are a handful, and then some. Especially this one boy whose only solace is in being the center of attraction of the class; by hook, or by crook.

The story takes a swift turn when the previous teacher and the village-mayor promise Wei 50 Yuan in a month, and bonus, if she succeeds in retaining the student-count to 28, not one less. Before your realize, the plot has chained itself around you, as you become a first person force from a passive observer. You will grind teeth, cross nails with each other, and be amazed at the resilience and tirelessness that a teenager demonstrates when looking for a lost student. And then it will hit you. Simplicity. Courage. Perseverance. And three tears.

What a bliss to watch this live painting by Yimou Zhang. The only movie in a long while that gets a perfect score from me: 5.0/5.0. Bravo!

----------------Chinese (Simple) translation by Yahoo Babel Fish--------------------

它开始作为被迫在地方小学教一个十三岁的近期毕业生的一个缓慢的土质传说,当当前(和唯一)老师必须离开照看他死的母亲。 很快您注意一位发芽的老师(谁她自己的动力学青年期)有28名学生类的,做您渴望她缺乏的控制和身材。 孩子是极少数,还不止这些。 特别是唯一的安慰在是类的吸引力的中心的这一个男孩; 由勾子,或者由弯曲处。 故事采取一个快速轮,当早先老师和村庄市长在一个月时许诺韦50元和奖金,如果她在保留成功学生计数到28,没有一。 在您体会之前,剧情在您附近束缚了自己,当您成为从一名被动观察员的第一人力量。 您将研牙,互相的发怒钉子和惊奇在韧性和tirelessness少年展示,当正在寻找一名失去的学生。 它然后将击中您。 朴素。 勇气。 坚持不懈。 并且三滴泪花。 观看这张活绘画的极乐Yimou张。 从我得到一个完善的比分很长时间的唯一的电影: 5.0/5.0. 喝彩声!

[Movie Review] The Story of Qiu Ju. Mandarin. 1992.

An unadulterated look into rural China and a simple lady whose morals take her through anger, retaliation, frustrations, gratitude, and regret. An extraordinary tale of the ordinariness of human psyche, sprinkled with breathtaking story telling.

Li Gong is such a beauty, the way she carried the character is an absolute delight. Score: 4.8/5.0.

[Movie Review] Paa. Hindi. 2009.

[Movie Review] Paa (2009). Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Vidya Balan. What a complete waste of 2:25 hours. Agreed the theme was unique (well not quite, I thought the whole plot was inspired in part by "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button").

Don't get me wrong. I wanted this movie to pull me into the characters, and on the stage. That is why I kept watching it all the way to the end, tirelessly, with the hope that something will challenge my psyche and intelligence, and blow the monotones apart in a split second. Trust me, it didn't happen.

Besides occasional witty moments by Amitabh, and the quick melodies by Ilairaja, nothing kept my attention. It was not clear whether R. Balki wanted to make an off-beat art movie out of it, or a main-stream theme saga of a modernistic politician and his past which was still alive in the form of a child suffering from Progeria. The movie kept juggling its vitals between these two issues and never got anywhere.

In all fairness, I do appreciate the effort that Balki and A. B. Corp Ltd. made to let the
common folks know about Progeria and the difficulties the families that witness it have to go through.

In summary, commendable acting by Amitabh, although the screenplay didn't do justice at times to the mental age he was playing.

My score: 2.5/5.0.

[Movie Review] Dare Mo Shiranai (Nobody Knows). Japanese. 2004-05.

Dare Mo Shiranai (Nobody Knows - 2005) is a dagger that will slice right through your heart. I fell in love with the kids - Yuki, Shigeru, Kyoko, Saki, and Akira. Half way through the movie I was living with them, chuckling as Akira finds a torn ball and Shigeru saves his noodle soup to put rice in and savor alone when everyone else is done.

Yuki is a sweetheart that just locks your eyes onto hers from the very first scene. Her saving the Apollo candies and chewing them only one at a time shows extraordinary circumstantial wisdom. I wish I could change the course of their lives, esp. since it is inspired by a real incident. What kind of weakling leaves their kids to die??

Loved it. 4.8/5.0.