Yes! I am talking to you all. The people who regularly read, the people who accidentally been directed upon and the people who I have annoyed so much to go through it. I have made this blog to contain only movie reviews and I guess it is time to get out of it and talk to you, tell something more than the usual reviews. This is the review of me in the past year and in this long post will make an attempt to bring some of the films I liked a bit and far more than the other hundreds I have watched.
There will be times when you look upon yourself and feel a bit complacent, a bit proud and a bit satisfied. The time is now, the end of a magnificent year of 2007. A year wherein I regulated in penning something very close to my heart. A year I found myself of what I enjoy doing and what I cannot compromise anything at all for it. A year of seeing some movies to be affected by and some movies to be reckoned watching and a lot of great movie classics from the shelves of great years. This is the year I will mark upon in me as the year of a foundation, a genesis in self realization and self revelation. 250 reviews – worst, better and best in films and the reviews in its characteristic growth.
At this point of time, I need to thank you all, every one of you who read a word, a line, a paragraph, a review and whole bunch of those. I recently subscribed to Google Analytics and it blew me to see the people wide around the world stepped into this small place for a while and several times. I am happy to see that it has extended and traveled from a room of four walls to many others whom I have never known. Thank you all! There are some people who need special mention from my front who not alone read the scribbling of mine regularly but took their time to suggest or discuss or recommend improving the clarity, content and the overall feel of the reviews. The review posted in January and now will mark quite a difference in quality and mainly in myself of how it has turned out.
Mathi Ezhil - My dear friend Mathi Ezhil, who with his zeal for the language and with the frustration of various blunders in my reviews patiently and amicably, advised, guided and influenced me to continue writing. A man of such a passion towards the language (and I am expecting his writing to make places in future), I sincerely thank you my friend.
Brad Burke – At the time he was working in Peoria Journal Star and I happen to get his acquaintance through mail to ask for working part time in his office. Unfortunately things did not work out for various other reasons but due to constant pestering in many to ask their opinion, feedbacks and suggestion did the same to Brad. Brad did not brush me off, he asked for time and he took time. And when he came back with his feedback, they altered the whole course of the flow, writing and the observation of the films as such. While Mathi corrected the language, Brad enlightened and made me visualize a totally radical path of presenting the films. I truly thank Brad for that which will forever be attached to the writings of mine.
Nagesh – The time I worked in India with Nagesh as my lead, a colleague and a great friend, there were tons of discussion, Movies Versus Books. I constantly vouched for movies as informative, creative, influencing and phenomenal as a book and he disagreed on labeling it as an entertainment value. Regardless we agreed to disagree. I am sure his opinions have changed but he is the man who greatly helped me identify things in my random life. The time we spent in India and the thoughts and ideas we shared are the building blocks of this blog. His systematic approach and the self discipline he brings in any of his work are the catalyst for keeping me obsessed with writing. When I started the newsletter in India office, he marked a main encouragement and support to bring in his material but provided something more than that, an inspiration. While we still will be arguing and discussing about our differences in very many things, we lie on the same grounds on disagreeing and having mutual respect for it. It has been a great honour to work under you and to be inspired by you. Thanks Nagesh for those interesting and irritating times of arguments and discussions. We came through good.
I also need to thank cousin Aravind, Aaron, K. Karthik of blog - http://woohhaa.blogspot.com/, Danielle Hatch of Peoria Journal Star, Mathangi, Prasanna (Saqli), Keith Demko of the blog Reel fanatic and with the very limited time he gets in his new role of family man is my brother Barath. I from my deepest heart thank every one of you and if I missed some one (this is turning out to be an Oscar acceptance speech) it is the only reason that I am overwhelmed by this year end, an end of a great year for me and an another embarkment for the year of 2008 with great expectations and hope!
With an eventful 2008 waiting, I try to compile some of the films I enjoyed and admired a lot than many others. There still to be many other movies which have released in 2007 which are yet to hit the theatres in the small town of mine to be viewed. I will mention it in the end and might add in before the Academy Awards.
“Into the Wild” – This is the film without any look up into the list of my reviews comes up as the story which stands out for its soul. Sean Penn with his magnetic directorial approach casting a surprisingly vibrant and charismatic Emile Hirsch lights a great deal of character in to this mystical, influential and a tragic character from real life, Christopher McCandless. With Hal Holbrook, Catherine Keener and Vince Vaughn, this truly is one of the memorable and a film very affecting, depressing and encouraging for me in the year of 2007.
“Once” – A film which gave a new definition to a musical and a story so heart warming and staying honest to the characters (which by the way never have their names, the leads played by Glen Hansard as Guy and Markéta Irglová as Girl) to have ending to be cherished. The music is simple but memorable, not glossy but mellow and director John Carney aptly said that it is a video album. It is visually strong enough to get us into that zone of peace, love, depression, despair and honesty all in “Once”.
“Michael Clayton” – George Clooney used his charismatic presence into something opposite. He is tired, stressed and constantly questions his choice of career and decisions in this film of brilliant editing and dubious circle of life. Director Tony Gilroy gives a man in a situation than a situation itself. A personality who is best at his job and his foundation of life stumbles when his mentor and colleague played with conviction by Tom Wilkinson put this question in every reviewer and audience – “Who is Michael Clayton?”
“The Lookout” – This is a sleeper and did not even make it in many lists I believe. Debutant director Scott Frank extended his job from screenplay writing and makes a ride which is so out of ordinary in any heist movie. In reality though, the heist is a simple third act twist but the real focus is on this brain damaged Chris Pratt played by the promising and talented actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It has the cosmetic value but also a deep look into this classically usual but randomly unable to carry on his daily activities personality with the pitch perfect support from Jeff Daniels as his blind companion and a stylish suitable back ground score by James Newton Howard.
“In the Valley of Elah” – Tommy Lee Jones clearly has made a genre of characters only for himself. Old, dryly sarcastic and some one to be aware of every single move of a fugitive as his back of the hand gave a completely altering role in this film which is sad and helpless in the end. As a father, a husband and a retired army officer, he gives a performance composed but deeply hurt inside in losing his son becomes the corner stone for this film. Director Paul Haggis never plays a wrong note and the end by many claimed to be melodramatic are in my opinion simply shows the integrity of the film being continued.
“Eastern Promises” – This been compared to the “The Godfather” tells how much it is systematic and dangerous in giving a gangster family of Russian descent in the London. Viggo Mortensen at his best, this film by director David Cronenberg walks on the high wire of violence so brutal that we are kept scared throughout the course of it. One of the best choreographed stunt sequence in the history of the film making, it is a sharp turn for my perspective towards the director since I was not moved or impressed by his previous venture with Mortensen, “A History of Violence”.
“Ratatouille” – An animated film for adults and kids, matured, witty and inspirational that it made me feel guilty of being judgmental on this genre. Director Brad Bird and co-director Jan Pinkava had the audacity to make a film for adult audience and still maintain the fun and creativity the animated films famous for. And the final speech of Anton Ego voiced by Peter O’Toole is so true and would have been close to many critics.
“Hot Fuzz” – A movie I loved every single moment of it. Fun shooting, one liners and the awesome English accent is great enough to coming out guns blazing for making the list of mine for the year of 2007. As for my dislike on bloody gory horror slasher movies, director Edgar Wright and his team of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost while impressed me in their first half of “Shaun of the Dead” lost me in the second half. They hit right on target and won me fair and square in this film. Apart from being funny and spoofing the action movies it remains inventive in its own plot which tells a lot about the potential of this team from UK.
“Knocked Up” – Judd Apatow’s venture after his terrific “The 40 year Old Virgin” is just about next to perfect. A perennial stoner Ben honestly given by Seth Rogen scores his out of league in appearance Alison played nicely by Katherine Heigl in that one drunken night only to be in the situation of dealing with unexpected pregnancy is comic but also has the soul and stays dauntless to analyze these funny characters a bit more. With Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann as Alison’s brother in law and sister who remain as her only comparison for a marriage which sadly is in jeopardy. Apatow is masterful and made himself a genre in the field of comedy.
“Zodiac” – Many would have forgot about this movie as that of the killer itself, this is from the versatile director David Fincher with his cult “Fight Club” and terrific “Seven” to give a detailed and broad analysis of the people who shed their life and family for finding this serial killer mysteriously naming himself “Zodiac”. While couple of other movies was made focusing on the killer before, Fincher brings out the silent players who dedicated their whole life in the hunt. With Jake Gyllenhaal as the curious cartoonist Robert Graysmith and his alcoholic colleague Paul Avery played with ease and carelessness of Robert Downey Jr., this film shows a new side of Fincher and his execution.
“Away from Her” – Sarah Polley matures herself from the cadre of sweet cherubic actress and steps in to the shoes of a director. Her first film and she gives a film filled with so much emotions and characters to be cared upon and is so careful in not making it a melodramatic tragedy movie. With Julie Christie in a performance worthy of very many awards as Fiona, diagnosed by Alzheimer’s disease slowly forgetting her past and her husband Grant by Gordon Pinsent who relives his guilt of not being faithful in their marriage is one of the most emotional movies for the year of 2007.
“300” – Well, many might look at me with disdain for naming this as one of the films I selected for this year. True is that it is not a great story or does not go profound in its characters. It is a bloody war film and we have seen many with more substance. But director Zack Snyder adapting from the graphic novel of Frank Miller gives us a new experience. An experience so unique that having visuals totally created by the animation department when the actors were piercing their warrior instruments in the back ground of green screen. While “Sin City” another adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphical comic by director Robert Rodriguez, which I did not like but admired its unique style of making, “300” brings another facet of the same graphical comics with the touch of cinematic invention. For that it makes into the list.
“Rescue Dawn” – My first movie of Werner Herzog and the always brilliant Christian Bale as Lt. Deiter Dengler with a strong supporting performances by Steve Zahn as Duane Martin and Jeremy Davies as Gene gives the struggle, torture and psychological pains of being a captive during the initial covert attacks on Vietnam. With acquisitions from the family of real life Gene over Herzog for not being faithful to the true happenings, it still is one of the best films of the year, seeing for its positive representation as it is only based upon and not a match on match representation of real life.
“The Mist” – An odd choice but this is the film which has made me to see the horror movies for something to be more than blood spatter or visceral anatomical treatments. Adapted from Stephen King’s novel and directed by the “The Shawshank Redemption” Frank Darabont gives the human horror in the society where in here it is the society formed in the super market grocery store of small town. Here the group of people is trapped due to the fear of the mysterious mist which has covered the town. With Thomas Jane as a level headed matured artist and a father with his son against the diabolique venom spitting Marcia Ray Garden in the name of religion and god, horror movie works at its best even with an unconvinced ending.
“Black Friday” – Many might despise me for naming the only Indian movie to be on my list. I still stand guilty as charged for not viewing much of Indian movies (comprising mainly of Hindi and my native language Tamil). Yet I managed to get my hands on this film directed by Anurag Kashyap who actually made this film in 2004 but was not able to release it till this year due to the legal complications surrounding the Mumbai blasts in 1993 which the film details upon. Kashyap gives a detailed analysis of the reality which happened post those blasts and the people involved in it with some good acting from Kay Kay Menon, Pavan Malhotra and Aditya Srivastava.
“No End in Sight” – A documentary stands being the definition of its nature of the genre. First time director Charles Ferguson systematically lines up with people who were involved in the Post Iraq invasion by the US. How it was terribly planned of not having a plan and how people were jumped upon is told by the people itself who are haunted by their helplessness in creating a country rotting down and heading towards utter wretched demise. It stays so true to the material and does not go for pro or anti war but a failure of a government in doing a job cover by carelessness and arrogance, only to leave the innocent affected people to look for the wrong direction for closure and the ill fated revenge and hatred.
“SiCKO” – Michael Moore stays behind the camera for most of the time, unlike him and puts the problem bright and as usual digging to build up controversy sky high. While some times it does feel like a paradise in UK, France and Canada which appears a bit wager, Moore gives the flawed Health Care system designed in the US as an obvious fact. His usual acts of tapping on the nerve buttons of the government officials continue when he takes the 9/11 rescue workers to US Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay.
Many might be surprised not to see the “No Country for Old Men”, “Juno”, “Before the Devil Knows you are Dead” or “American Gangster”. Even though those are good movies, it did not do it for me to make it in my list.
I yet need to see lot other films which might fall either in the below paragraph or the above list of mine or may be in to the films I despised, time needs to determine that. The films are “Atonement”, “The Kite Runner”, “The Assasination of Jesse James by Coward Robert Ford”, “Romance & Cigarettes”, “I’m Not There”, “Starting Out in the Evening”, “The Savages”, “Redacted”, “There will be blood” some foreign movies – “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”, “Vanaja”, “Persepolis” and Tamil Movies – “Paruthi Veeran”, “Mozhi”, “Katrathu Tamizh”, “Chennai 600028”, “Sivaji”, “Evano Oruvan” and Hindi Movies – “Guru”, “Chak De India”, “Tare Zameen Par” and “No Smoking”.
Other films I enjoyed and missed the list – “Juno”, “No Country for Old Men”, “Rendition”, “Before the Devil Knows you are Dead”, “The Great Debaters”, “Charlie Wilson’s War”, “Lust, Caution”, “Lions for Lambs”, “American Gangster”, “The Darjeeling Limited”, “Gone Baby Gone”, “The Kingdom”, “Talk to me”, “Superbad”, “The Bourne Ultimatum”, “1408”, “A Mighty Heart”, “Waitress”, “Fracture”, “Breach” and “Bridge to Terabithia”.