Friday, 13 January 2012

Sur me Levres - Read my lips

2002 by Jacques Audiard - French movie

How many movies come with the tagline as different, but almost all of them are not. Here is one movie, which can really boast as different, and is brilliant too.

A woman, who has to use hearing aids, working as an office secretary needs an assistant. The man who turns up is an ex convict. And a very strange relationship follows that he leads her into a heist.

The story might sound fit for a popular action drama. But this is not a Hollywood style action thriller or romantic comedy. In many ways, it is an excellent study of two characters, completely different from each other.
Some of the moments between these two, brilliantly assisted by some truly brilliant cinematography looks so bloody brilliant. It has to be seen to believe.

There is romance in this movie, but not found in any ways in any other movies. I dont think there is another movie which studies two characters moving into a kind of love, like this one. And there are thrills, supplemented by the man, which makes it like a classic thriller.

Absolutely brilliant movie, with an out of this world script and director. Brilliant performances too by Vincent Cassel and Emmanuelle Devos. Emmanuelle especially, have much much more to emote than Cassel and she is bloody brilliant. One of the best performances in a feminine role, may be.

A real must watch movie for many reasons.  My salutes to the entire team. French people must be so proud.  

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Un long dimanche des fiancailles - A very long engagement

2004 by Jean pierre Jeunet - French movie

The director who gave the brilliant Les Fabuleux destine d'Amelie Poulain, joins again with Audrey Tautou. This time it is a period love story though.

A young woman is desperately looking for her fiancee, who was condemned to death during the first world war, in the French - German battle lines.

This is a picture perfect example of a director making a very different movie from his previous one. And for Audrey Tautou, as well, this is quite a different role.

There is love through out in this movie, it is not right on the screen though. But it is omni present. Love is the only reason why Methilde is still searching for her Manech, even if all reports and witness comments were against. The way the movie goes on this search, almost like a detective story, is really nice. There is an excellent mix of emotion with simple comedy with scenes from battle field.

I felt it a bit too long though. The sound recording and mixing of this movie deserves 11/10 marks. Beautiful cinematography too. And once again, yet another strong performance from Audrey Tautou. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Celda 211 - Cell 211

2009 by Daniel Monzon - Spanish movie

It is not often that I feel like placing myselves in the position of a character that I am watching. I could not help doing that watching Celda 211, and I dont have words to express what I felt. Sure, this is just a movie, but there might be somebody somewhere out there who must have gone through some situations like this, losing everything. What a life it would be.

A new prison officer is trapped within a Prison block when the inmates call out a strike which  is actually a riot. To save himself, he can only pretend as a new inmate.

To be frank, the plot is intentionally driven to a direction to make it look more melodramatic, make it more of a terrific tragedy. But this is still a brilliant cinema. I must still say, even if there is this melodramatic air, some unanswered logical questions here and there, it is still wonderful as they dont try to make a heroic action thriller out of it.

The script, the situations, the direction, the actors, everything about it came out excellent. The tension that is created, which lasts almost until the final moments is incredible and deserves a special mention.

A brilliant movie indeed, must watch should I say.
I am just wondering when will Hollywood remake it though. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


2009 by Neil Jordan - English movie from Ireland

Ondine is a water nymph or  a water spirit. There are many myths, from around the world, based on this concept. I dont remember seeing another movie on this, though.

A fisherman finds a woman in his fishing net, who seems to bring him good luck. His daughter believes the woman is an Ondine.

Large part of this movie proceeds like a fairy tale and I liked it a lot. It is just the final parts, which expectedly, turns routine and lacked that nice lovely feeling which the movie managed to create so easily in the first half. I would love to forget the last and just keep in my memory the first half of this movie, which was like a beautiful fantasy movie.

Still I cant help thinking that this was a great opportunity to make an ultimate classic, let gone by the movie makers, towards the final thrid.

Nice performances by Colin Farrell and the actress who played Ondine. Another great plus is the location, which fits perfectly for this fairy tale. 

Jack Falls

2011 by Paul Tanter, Alexander Williams - English movie from UK

I am finding it really difficult to find time to comment on my daily movies, owing to the busy schedules because of work. Luckily my movie timing is late night, after work, are not affected yet.

Normally there is a kind of quality with British movies. They are much better than the English ones from the west of Atlantic in almost all aspects, barr the money spent on production and marketing. However, this one, is rather a poor movie, less than average by normal British standards.

Story of the revenge by an under cover cop.

It does have the plot to make a brilliant movie, but almost everything about the movie fails, I think. There are some moments, which were good, but overall it is disappointing. 

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Page Eight

2011 by David Hare - English TV film from UK

In normal cases, I would have never watched it, just because it was made for TV. Add to it the presence of Bill Nighy in it. For some reason, I find it difficult to bear him. However, this turned out to be an experience.

Bill Nighy is an MI5 officer. When his boss dies of heart attack, he feels obliged to find the truth behind a secret document, which exposes his own super boss the Prime Minister.

It is a modern day spy film, devoid of all the typical action and cliches. However, it turns out to be an intelligent thriller in many ways. Except for the final couple of scenes, I felt like watching a real thriller.

I am forced to change my opinion on Bill Nighy with this one though. Normally acting involves the effective use of facial muscles and eyes. I dont know about any other actors, who can act without any kind of movements of his facial muscles. Bill Nighy looked so sterile for me always, but this role looks perfect for him and he impressed me with his own unique style. There is an important scene, when he need to interpret some important information to his minister (just by chance, normally he must not be talking at all) and that was a brilliant moment. One needs to watch it to believe it. It is incredible how he conveys all the feelings with a sterile looking face.

One other aspect which I appreciate, a lot, in this movie is actually really really important. As I always say, we never see a movie about the people suffering from the other side of the mainstream spectrum. Normally it is always the atrocities on Jews, or how terrorists targeted America or its allies or how Russia or China or Korea is doing something against America and such, that makes it into movie script. George Clooney's Syriana made some mentioning about American high hands in some ways. There are moments in this movie which talks about the atrocities committed by Israeli forces and about its occupation of West Bank, which is a first time, for me. It felt like a revolution to me. So that is a good change.

An intelligent, thriller with political overtones, well taken. A very good watch, overall. 

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Bangkok Dangerous

1999 by Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang - Thai movie

This movie is from Thailand, but the cd I got was dubbed in French. Whatever, I am glad that I saw it.

A deaf hit-man, who is in the business only because of his friend and partner, falls for a girl. His friend is killed when he tries to revenge the rape of his partner.

The master stroke in this movie, is that the main guy is deaf and dumb. Otherwise the story is not new at all, we have seen similar things many many times. But the way this movie is told, it is quite cinematically charming, and together with the handicapp nature of the main guy, this movie looks really brilliant.

The way the whole story is told, is definitely brilliant. The hit man falling in love with the drug store girl gives a very soft touch to the movie too. Excellent performance by the actors, especially the actor who played the dumb guy.

If not for the script and director, this would have been just another movie. However, this is quite a proof what an intelligent script and director could do, to make an ordinary story look brilliant.

Inspite of all the killings and all, this movie is still not an action movie. That, I hope, will explain how good this movie is.

Thursday, 5 January 2012


2011 by Gavin O'  Connor - English movie from Hollywood

It will be difficult to say, how many movies have there been about fighters or fighting. There have been so many and the recent one, Fighter, was quite a different movie. My favourite of course is Raging bull, which is of course, more than just a fight movie.

The difference made by Warrior to this whole list of fight movies is a simple one, but quite a compelling one to enhance the plot, to give it a different diamension. The main fighters, who come face to face at the finals, are two brothers, part of a broken family. Both brothers were once trained by their father, an ex boxer, who is now hired by one of the brothers.  And both the brothers have their own reasons to win this fight.

The family side, I must admit, adds a very different effect to this fighters movie. The father and two brothers are all terrible with each other and the reasons for this are only subtly told, without any flashbacks, which is good though. However, it looks like the director still gave all his attention and priorities in getting the fighting scenes brilliant, rather than the family plot. Even if the family side do evoke some emotion towards the end, it is quite obvious that director intended this movie as a fight movie, with a difference (of brothers involved).

The fight scenes are brilliant. I liked how one brother, the Physics teacher, always win using the same techniques. With other fighters there is no such distinguishable styles, I am afraid. However, overall the fight scenes are brilliant and makes this movie a good watch. The movie is not devoid of routine Hollywood cliches and other facts though.

Nick Nolte, as the father, steals the whole show with his absolutely brilliant performance. He managed this, with much less screen space than the two brothers is really excellent.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Les Poupees Russes - Russian dolls

2005 by Cedric Kalpisch - French movie

I wonder how I didnt notice, till recently, that L'Auberge Espagnole had a sequel. L'Auberge, for me, is one of the best movies ever about university students. Sure it was quite different from the American pies or other Hollywood ones which were just famous for other reasons, but L'Auberge.. was a class apart, many levels apart actually.

The sequel is, first of all, different in a big way that it is not called part 2 at all. Kalpisch has completely made a new plot, just using the same old characters, concentrating more on a few of them. Which itself is quite nice and different from all the sequel dramas we are used to from around the world, especially Holl/Bollywoods.

So Xavier is at his 30's, has broken up with Martine, and is working with Wendy. William is getting married to a Russian girl and hence, after few years, the whole Barcelona gang is meeting in St. Petersburg for the marriage.

What is really interesting, and commendable, is that only towards the last 1/3rd or so, are we in St. Petersburg. Till then the movie is still around Xavier, his struggling life and little bits of Martine and also his working with Wendy. And this was brilliant. Most people would call this as a romantic comedy and in some ways it really is. But I would say it is not exactly a romantic comedy until the last minutes. Until then it is a classic comedy about the life of a man, struggling both with his work and with girl friends.

Martine, played super super brilliantly by Audrey Tautou, still have a lot of space in Xavier's life and most of the moments between these two are incredibly funny. The scene when Martine arrives back from Brazil and the ensuing fight is incredibly brilliant. Also put in that scene, when Martine, in a kind of dream sequence, is explaining to her kid about her relationships, were brilliant, out of this world actually. What an actress this woman is. It is such a pity that she does not get the kind of recognition she deserves, outside Europe, unlike the Hollywood divas who are more famous in the third world. Real pity.

And Romain Duris has done an even better performance than part one. He is extraordinary in this one.

The movie tends to be like a popular romantic comedy towards its end, which does takes away some sheen out of its classic stature. But that should be all right for most people watching this.

A brilliant funny film. It is very very different from its original, and should manage its own position in the film world, even if it is not known as a sequel. 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Coco avant Chanel - Coco before Chanel

2009 by Anne Fontaine - French movie

Say Audrey Tautou, and there is a kind of minimum guarantee about the movie. Is there any actress in the modern days who can give that kind of a guarantee, I doubt it. However, this is quite a different type of character from Audrey Tautou, than we are used to seeing.

A biopic on a legendary Fashion designer, Chanel, who too Paris fashion world by storm.

But the movie focuses more on the life of Chanel, before she became a successful designer, when she was a nobody, just Coco.

The sad part is that, by the time Coco grow up as a character and puts her hands on her path to success, ie trying to be a designer, the movie is almost at its end. Till this period, we are actually looking at the hardships of Coco. It is a different kind of hardship though. Coco is basically a strong character, but she is trying to keep her cool, being a mistress to one of the big guy with contacts. What is worse is the way this big guy treats her. It is incredible that a French woman bears it.

We see from the very beginning that Coco is quite a strong character, but the way she was (almost) submissive to her big man (and to his insults), Mr. Balsan, is still shocking. That only proves the resolve of her character in some ways. May be there is a lot to learn from this movie, about French women in the first half of 20th Century.

Whatever, the movie is quite impressive. But I must admit, it does not really touch us deeply or make us yearn for something or anything like that. It is just above average.

What is brilliant, is of course, the performance of Audrey. She is incredible. I only wish, she put on some weight to her skeleton body. She definitely is a born actress, a little bit of flesh on her body could only help her, I guess.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Hong He - Red River

2009 by Zhang Jiarui - Chinese movie

I think I was very lucky to watch this movie. It didnt have much of a media backing and one must be lucky to go by this movie and still to decide to watch it. I feel lucky that I trusted the opinion of a Chinese blog and decided to look for this movie.

The war with America also left lots of mine fields in Vietnam. A Tao, a young Vietnamese girl living by the Chinese border is shocked and become mentally challenged by witnessing her father becoming prey to land mine. Like many other Vietnamese girls, she too has to cross out to China and starts working in a massage parlour run by her dead father's sister, as a cleaner. A Shao, a road side karoake operator finds out that, though retarded A Tao sings beautifully and hence hires her. A Tao is attracted to A Shao. A local mafia goon had liked the innocence of A Tao and is after her too.

I would call this as one of the best love tragedies I have ever seen. The movie does not have any ingredients of a normal entertainer, in fact it progress more like an art house movie. And the first few minutes are quite slow. However, the mine blast comes in as a terrible shock and soon we meet the grown up A Tao, the mentally challenged young lady. Here after, the movie is so engaging and brilliant. The large, innocent and expressive eyes of A Tao will attract us and will make us feel for her. We will laugh, sing and cry with her. What a brilliant character.

As the love plot is formed and as the villain arrives, A Tao alone is required to move us on to the edge of our seat. The second half of the movie is really like a thriller and we wish for this strange couple from the bottom of our hearts. I really felt worried for them. And the end, which takes us to a strange feeling is tragic. I mean, there is some hope somewhere, but it is still very sad. I had a similar tragic feeling many years back, watching a Malayalam movie Bhootha Kannady. I would say, the ending of Hong He was similar. You know that it is a big tragedy, but there is a probable may be....

Absolutely, a brilliant performance by Jingchu Zang as A Tao. I have seen her in some other movies too. But this must be her best, for me at least. For me, this is one of the best performances from a female actor, ever. Everybody were good, but A Tao's eyes are haunting me.

It is such a pity that any movie, even with a slight hint at problems caused by America, is somehow pushed away from the main stream even in the internet world. Even other Chinese movies, which are not half as good as Hong He gets better reviews from West. I, hence, find it difficult to fathom the state of this movie.

A must watch movie, for sure. And anybody has any doubts on Chinese movies, please watch this.

Swapna Sanjaari

2011 by Kamal - Malayalam movie

I wonder when will the veteran directors of Malayalam cinema will get fed up or tired of making the same kind of movies.

Swapna Sanjaari, about a man who became very rich with Gulf money and tries his best to get a name in the village as a kind rich man face seviour failure, is not a bad movie at all. But the problem is there is hardly anything new in this movie. In one way or other almost everything in this movie has occupied scenes, briefly or detailed ways, in many other Malayalam movies since the end of 80's. In fact everybody should be able to guess correctly what exactly is going to happen with all the characters in this movie.

Definitely there is a message behind this movie, but the ingredients of the wine and the bottle and the package are all tested and tried a lot in the last two decades. It is just the credit of the director that he has managed to shoot the scenes allright that the movie will make a pass as a one time watchable average fare.

Just like I mentioned with the directors, it is also incredible that Jayaram is not fed up of playing the same kind of roles again and again and again.