Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Ten Tiny Love Stories" (2001) - Movie Review

Rodrigo Garcia’s “Ten Tiny Love Stories” has ten women telling not so much about their love but something like it. Each give attention to detail to the men they spent the night with, held their hands and keep repeating how they smelled. Some men stunk but liked them anyway, some were immaturely boyish but sweet. And they are women, being women in their characters. Each monologue does not last the same time and tells more about them than the people they talk about. The people in their stories become the background information. They are the tools, not the content.

Some of them tell their names not as an introduction but as a reply to the people they lived, met and passed on. Garcia does not surprise when he took the “In Treatment” TV series as it is a monologue towards the therapist, though there is a string of events which becomes the series. Here they seem to be doing an anonymous interview but and hence there is truth with the shades of withholding information than telling lies. The altered version and the version they would like to remember are told with vivid nature and would scare the men of the actuality their partners think of. Men might split it wide open but this minutiae of information is not something they will be patient for.

There is Radha Mitchell sharing the story of stumbling into an ex-boyfriend who specifically seem to have visited the town to see her after a sufficiently long time. She tells that the next day morning breakfast invitation will not be attended by her since she admits of spending a night with a guy she has been dating. But she is pulled back to the man she once loved and goes through a specific night. Similarly comes the next narration from Alicia Witt wondering the guy she wants to be with pulling back the memories completely disconnected.

All of them take single shot and lets the audience in for that minutes of their life they lived. We take this reality confession in a certain manner of judgment ourselves and amused on how these women play games to gain control and most of the time end being in a place they do not really like to be. Such is Lisa Gay Hamilton’s character been played well by this Argentinean guy and a date which she says heading nowhere begins to take another route. It is perplexing psychology that how she did not like it but anyway did it and put her in a position in a state of self humiliation and turn into an emotional confession.

Some of them blurt out the truth and some clearly show refrains of the details. The vignettes which begin to give women who we do not really like and then we are dozed off at certain revelation we do not really show interest in. Those are the ones we would not like to go on a date with. They would have mouthful of concealment gushing out in an interview like this.

The perspective is clear which is to look through the other side of the world away from men. It is not about the trophy of winning the sex but how insignificant the physiological importance generally is looked upon. The things which did not matter suddenly multiplying in building pyramids of frustration and then the mere sight of their partners disgusts and nauseates them. The sensation would soon become mutual and the end is ugly but the disappointment is haunting as such.
And it is not love stories because most of them deviate from where they start. That is an interesting approach as it is the procedure of a confiding conversation. We are wondered to whom they are delivering these. True that it is the audience but who really was there a friend or a psychologist? What is the relation between them to get such a open analysis of the sudden men, the long lasting men, the casual men and the disappointing men?

“Ten Tiny Love Stories” is as Garcia’s “Nine Lives” is an experimental approach and it keeps interested in these women till it gets sour. It gets a little unsettling to see the other side a little too candid and wondering the fundamental laws being altered about the trust. If the film completely does not work on me, it is because I did not like the characters than the film. May be a little too much of a detail in this is not something we men want to know. Ignorance is freaking bliss in this regard.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Sin Nombre" (Language - Spanish) (2009) - Movie Review

The quest for the American dream has led to the pot pourri of the international residency in the country. The journey to get out here varies, sometimes morphed legit in the name of higher education to an occupation, which includes me. The other is the neighbouring country for the United States, Mexico which then also being the pathway for the further economically distressed nation like Honduras. “Sin Nombre” is that journey along with the tragedy of territorial wars, poverty spread in patches and bulk and the mixture of this humanity in the deadliest.

Regardless of the country, language and culture, in poverty there is a loyalty for territorial gangs. Wherever it started as an insignificant conflict becomes a tradition to that part. Then on the friendship with the members comes an infection of a misplaced adherence to the group. A devoted member of the clan La Mara is Casper (Edgar Flores) possibly in his late teens getting another kid Smiley (Kristian Ferrer) at the age of ten may be to the group. There he is inducted in the group by a timed cortes meaning beat the hell out of the little kid. Tattoos are trade marks and identification. The leader of that part of the town is Lil’ Mago (Tenoch Huerta Mejía), a ferocious merciless man. His face is covered with tattoos forming a permanent mask.

Casper seems to be a man with a chance for some slight change but is bound by the mob brotherhood and mostly fear of disobeying it. He is in love with a girl Martha Marlene (Diana Garcia). He keeps her off the life he leads in the day time because he knows better of his buddies, especially Mago. He tells Smiley to keep his mouth shut when they are asked about their scheduled lookout for the opposing gangs in their field. But Mago’s second in command Sol (Luis Fernando Peña) found a man from rival gang and he becomes the aided first kill for Smiley. Mago knows the truth and punishes both Casper and Smiley with cortes. Tragedy strikes when Martha stops by unannounced to be taken off by Mago and she dies in the effort to escape Mago’s rape attempt. “You’ll find another” tells Mago to Casper who clearly has departed and decided what he will do.

Simultaneously there is Sayra (Paulina Gaitán) from Honduras embarks her trip to New Jersey along with her father (Gerardo Taracena) and uncle who left when she was a child. He got deported and this time he would like to take along her daughter and brother. He has a family in US and makes them remember the phone number out there in case they get separated, which is quite possible. Sayra’s journey crosses Casper’s when along with Mago and Smiley they rob the immigrants over the train. The events out there would leave Casper take the train to nowhere while the young Smiley would soon become a Mago himself at the film takes us through this chase from the gang.

The blind and terrorizing film of “City of God” told these kids eager to be lifting guns and go through the life of being in the gang. Right from the young age, the feeling of belonging is imminent. If it does not come in the family or the family does not provide the necessity these kids want in such an environment, violence and sex are inches away as death too. At the age when everything makes sense in a unilateral manner, they become the fly seeking the electric light. Soon before the humanity takes some finding in them, they are deep into this mud of loyalty.

Writer/Director Cary Fukunaga does not go for clever dialogues. He makes up a story and has the characters get the attention in their stuck path. Casper as a kid would have got into the routine and when he finds love in Martha has realized the mess he made of himself He cannot get out and knows the worst is any time. And he knows the same when Sayra acquaints him. These characters in their age where a person of good life cannot imagine the cruelty and toughness they are introduced. They react to those where the balance in their decision has hardly formed. We are shocked when Sayra follows Casper blindly knowing his end. Casper is shocked too but knows the persistence she has and decides to play that to reach her to safety.

The camera work of Adriano Goldman captures the train journey through the lands of destitute in the condition of the people and the richness in the nature surrounding them. There is a constant shot when Casper takes Smiley into the head quarters of the clan and we are reminded of the world Henry Hill takes his wife in “Goodfellas”. Here it is bunch of young men tied violently by an identification insignificant and the power it brings upon of course with booze and women. “Sin Nombre” is a thriller, a drama of the inhumanity and the humanity and the people taking risk for something a little more of a better life in the American dream. Whether it becomes a nightmare before it achieves further ordeal is the dangerous adventure of Sayra with Casper.

"My Sister's Keeper" (2009) - Movie Review

Condolences and grief are an immediate attraction for unknown dilemma and unsettling place for people not involved in it. What to talk or whether to talk? Is there need to be false comforts or lying statements of obvious exaggeration? “My Sister’s Keeper” has those things covered perfectly some where in the end of it when the Fitzgerald family’s friends come in and talk about miracles, to do their best to cheer. They are out there when Kate Fitzgerald (Sofia Vassilieva) is in tears with her younger sister Anna Fitzgerald (Abigail Breslin) and elder brother Jesse Fitzgerald (Evan Ellingson). They stand there waiting for a moment of pause but dad Brian Fitzgerald (Brian Patric) has experience in those and asks “Who wants pizza?”

Kate’s cancer cure has been her genetically birthed sister Anna. Anna has been donating right from birth for her sister’s survival. The movie opens with the family in that cinematic oddities of face value happiness beneath crumbling, understandably. Anna enters the office of lawyer Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin) and says that she wants to sue her parents for medical emancipation. She has reached the brink to strip her body and put herself through these procedures with needles being punched in and out. She loves her sister but now she is fearing that her life will be of complication and sickness of the same. This shocks Sara Fitzgerald (Cameron Diaz) while Brian knows what they have done. Sara has been the warrior with immense bravery and courage. She along with her family has sheltered Kate with care and laboriously going through with it.

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Judi Picoult whose books I have not read but have often seen in the “Target” and “Walmart” where it is right by the women’s section. The film is obviously a tearjerker but there is a noticeable difference. Instead of attempting to put through the soaking sobs of this intolerable ordeal, suffering and fear of loss, Nick Cassevettes digs into the memory and keeps the courtroom drama at bay.

Nobody wants to go through this sadness but people do. When to give up and accept the reality is a line dividing life time regret and a consolation prize of slight comfort. Either way the loss is insurmountable and the living deals with it. Anna’s right in this regard definitely is unquestionable. And Kate has endured enough and more than that seen the pain her family is going through. Sara has taken this as any mother would, to go beyond the lines and fight. Brian knows the vigour in Sara and has stood by her all this time. He has managed to stand outside of Sara’s polarization towards the rest of the kids and looked what they are losing apart from their daughter.

This might be the film which does not exploit the sympathy and rather create empathy for each of the member in this family. Jesse, the older brother has missed out on the genuine care in the scale of the disease intensity to her sister. Brian has been missing his wife and Anna has been made feel to be a mere over the counter prescription. Regardless of these, the family love each other. This is how though it works in each of the house. While it is a dying daughter, it is something else in the other houses.

Cameron Diaz has managed to pull this off and I did doubt her on this role. As the passionate and clouded mother of these kids, she is neurotic but not hateful, she makes her despise but also feel her pain. Her character does not ask for sympathy but be in this fight without question. Brian has been that soldier but now reached that question of conscience and eventuality not able to submit that sincerity to her.

“My Sister’s Keeper” is not a sobfest and it genuinely goes through its characters and forms the shapes of emotions we would have stayed away from because meeting those is unbearable. Death is shocking but slow death is painful. Either ways it is an event to permanently shake any one. The film considerably leaves the moral judgment out of the equation and live through the moments of happiness in Kate’s life with her family. The argument of pro-life and pro-choice applies to the individual family and person with the emotional situation varying considerably. Hence Nick Cassevettes does the noble thing of dealing that only towards the Fitzgerald family. “My Sister’s keeper” might be the melodrama which was prudent and mainly understanding these characters than to blindly use them as tear devices.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

"Away We Go" (2009) - Movie Review

This is the generation basked in the aura of cynicism. The doubt and despair is not alone towards the politics and media but in the tradition defining the purpose of men and women, relationships and families. Sam Mendes takes an indie route through the eye glasses of an American couple on this cynicism in a mellow tour around the northern United States. And the movie transcends into a film without a purpose and I mean it in a good way. The search for the objective is not a burning question for the film to end, which it does, in the tone of how the rest of the story takes place, cliched but funny, softening into melodramatic but moving and a refreshing feel of a pleasant time. We are amongst the trends and types of relationship with sometime reeking with self righteousness but mostly with yearnings unmet and the sorrows in the walls of the houses the couples visit. They are finding their walls. “Away We Go” is not a strikingly best film but a memory to reminisce as the days go by and would make it one of the best films.

We are interlaced into this one person and character by the elongated existence between our living and the dying to form an opinion. We change a little, may be not but the trust and hope for the remaining days of the lives is a fear swallowing very slowly until death. The bond of marriage is a name and a label but it is the crucial factor in a relationship. A symbol of the embarkment towards something binding. And that is scary. If it is not desired then there is another scare of being departed. It is the Catch - 22 of the cynic. In “Away We Go”, there is Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) an early thirty couple living together expecting a baby. They are excited and trembled of this life changing event. Burt mostly is excited while Verona feels, well not exactly sure but sure she would make an interesting mother.

What Sam Mendes wants to see in Burt and Verona is not some dysfunctional comedy but the prefabbed normal couple. That regularity label might be argued on the misconstrued observation. Looking closer Burt and Verona represent the moderately well off but beings living on their own situation. They are not suburban role models but simpletons of the modern world, someone who could afford to fly, ride and dine, well. Their middle class status is the disorganized house. Is it me or is seeing John Krasinski bearded with normal clothes seem too weird? But fit they well for the film they shot.

Burt and Verona decide to go places around the country and decide to begin a life of their own, now that Burt’s parents (Jeff Daniels and Catherine O’Hara) are suddenly leaving to Belgium for their dream life style. The couple will be visiting their old friends, brother, sister and some acquaintance. All will be married and every one portray a marriage in various situation and formed philosophies. They weigh their future town by the couple they meet. May be because that is their scale of what kind of change that would impose on them in long run.

They goto Phoenix where Verona’s old boss Lily (Allison Janey) is loud, over the edge and has a husband (Jim Gaffagan) having his moments of monologue which freaks and entertains. Verona is little bigger than the usual 6 month pregnant women. Every one reminds to remind that without inhibition. They goto Madison where Burt’s child hood friend Ellen (Maggie Gyllenhaal) lives the pure human life. They are the organic freaks or the paranoid nature fanatics, however we like it. Their smell of self righteousness is suffocating and stinks of condescend with carefully placed softness. Their college friends in Montreal,Tom and Munch (Chris Messina and Melanie Lynskey) seem to have the perfect life and marriage. When Burt and Verona find that, they would be pleased but then made self realized of what they are up for in the upcoming sadness in them. They make unexpected stop over at Burt’s brother Courtney’s (Paul Schneider) place where they get another lesson from themselves.

Burt and Verona love each other very much in the movie way and in the real way in different angles. They are moving into their new life where they got to evaluate something of themselves. They look for places and people they could get an idea and get a lot more. The couples in the film are in levels of unhappiness that would eventually get Burt and Verona. This is not their fight to escape those because it just cannot happen. Not as fate but the surprise the long term commitment promises. They want to make their effort in a good start and the cross section of the current scenario of marriage is not sad but interesting as it gives intensity of the platform of the happiness we base it upon. “Away We Go” has some great music which initially seemed to be out of place but finds its way as the couples do. Sam Mendes who has his flair and flamboyance in frame picturing the disdain of the clock work life with an appreciation for the shambled beauty it presents, creates a film mellow, cheerful and a cynicism we accept as life itself from the writer couple Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Il Postino" (Language - Italian) (1994) - Movie Review

“The smell of barber shops makes me sob out loud” recites Mario Ruoppolo (Massimo Troisi) to Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noirret) the creator of the line, asking what is the reason behind it. The fictional Pablo Neruda in the “Il Postino: The Postman” replies “When you explain poetry, it becomes banal”. Indeed it does. This a simple and passionate film written and starred by Massimo Troisi is directed by Michael Radford. It is the best a film could have come close in explaining and transpiring the beauty of poems without obliterating it with melodrama.

A simpleton wishes to join his friends in the land of opportunity in America, Mario leads an indifferent life on the shores of the island in Italy. With a father having a luxury of sparing two words during his couple of hours break from fishing, he has no one to confide. His father asks him to get a job before thinking about making a journey outside of the island. His bicycle and his literacy earns him a temporary post man job to deliver to one address. The poet in exile, Pablo Neruda. He remembers him from the news reel, and also learned that the women are in love with his poems.

He begins to get acquainted as a small pause to stay there to get Pablo’s attention. He hopes to befriend the man and someday in future would aid him in winning women. But he is drawn by the words. Soon he begins to ask what metaphors are and how it can proliferate in his stale brain. Walk along the bay says Neruda. Nature can be the best poet’s aphrodisiac to the cascades of lines, punctuation and the waves of paragraphs.

The discussion between Pablo and Mario on the beaches of the gargantuan structures of cliff are memorable in the love for the art form by the writer and director. One who understands the form of this presentation in the words speaks to those appreciating members in the audience. It is not a conversation we do not want to sit in wondering what is the obsessing thing about this that two people talk in disguised pseudo intellectualism and appreciation. It is more about a wise poet being aware of his work and gift explaining that the water is there in this dried up ground of human mind, it takes a little digging and lot of patience.

Mario is struck by the Italian beauty Beatrice (Maria Grazia Cucinotta), a young waitress in the town. She is hard and outspoken. He is shy dissolving in the shadows of the bar doors. He needs help and the man for that would be the man the women go gaga about. The friendship that begins in postal deliveries arrives to the place where Pablo becomes the cupid for his buddy’s love. The movie till then is a sweet story of this coiled and coy postal clerk finding something beautiful in the words and a friendship with a man helping him to see those. What happens once Pablo leaves forms the important part of the story and there is Mario in the sorrow of missing his friend and hoping to get a reciprocation. Not as to boast of knowing the man but an acknowledgment to the bond they had and shared.

Writer/Actor Massio died immediately as the film got over. He negated a known heart condition to finish this film. That is a passionate man restless and feared of his work not been on to the screen. For such a fierce obstinate person, he is sublime and softened in his Mario. After a long time he receives a letter from Chile and as eager he is to read the letter so are his family and boss. It is a letter from secretary asking him to mail the remaining items from the empty house of Neruda. And he is beaten by the insignificance he has been put to. He is unable to comprehend the enormity of the expectation he developed. He is fighting these two in that scene and brings those with a melancholy more than the poems read in the film.

“Il Postino” while an aspiring film is not striving for greatness and that is intentional. It is rightly put so. This as its main character relies on the simplicity and the freshness to the poetry it reads into. It uses the poems of Pablo Neruda as a tool for making it work than to impose. It is a film which does not expect much from its audience than to enjoy the poems along with Mario and Pablo.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"The Man from Elysian Fields" (2002) - Movie Review

Having seen film couples break apart, “The Man from Elysian Fields” would be the first to break my heart. The film directed by George Hickenlooper does the incredible thing a movie maker and a writer thrives to achieve in their work, to precisely feel the pain of the characters they want the audience to empathize upon. Such is Byron Tiller (Andy Garcia) in the famed hall of writers and he needs to hunt the book store which holds his first novel and canvas the browsers to buy it. He has a lovely family, an adoring wife Dena (Julianna Margulies) caring and supporting in his day of failures for his second book to be published and a son Nathaniel.

He is the believing writer having hopes and courage to see his rest of the life writing beautiful novels. He has quit his ad agency job and he did it in style by telling his boss to screw himself who rightfully gives it back when Byron resorts to get back. He is in desperate times because his editor thinks his work is not commercial enough. He does not tell it in a precise word but he tells a line which is what I have seen many of the regular film goers use to be bamboozled and annoyed by films with subtle meanings and needs some work from the viewers to enjoy it. We hear the story of Byron by the voice of Mick Jagger as Luther Fox. He is confident about Byron that he would make a terrific employee. Luther runs an escort service.

Byron hesitant as he should but hitting the bottom and not ready to let down his wife which he does so unaware, gets into the business. He meets his first clientele Andrea (Olivia Williams). She is the spouse of a dying Pulitzer Prize(s) winning writer Tobias Alcott (James Coburn). Andrea is representation of serenity but a deep sadness within. Tobias walks in when Andrea and Byron are together in the bed and without a slightest uncomfortableness, Andrea introduces Byron to him. Tobias does the same but has his knack of being sarcastic. He has few days left in his life and a book he has been working as the epic piece marking a requiem. It is a matter of time before Byron informs that he is a writer and out of a rare deal of third ear, Tobias provides his manuscript. It stinks as Byron tells after a punch in the nose. Soon Andrea and Tobias offer something more than Byron’s regular service, a co-authorship to help Tobias die with a reputation. Rest of it is how two women loving their men unconditionally are shattered and devious enough to pull off the worst thing ever upon the other people.

A film beginning as a story for something a plot setup soon turning out to be the pain the characters go through. Byron is humiliated but tells himself that he is doing for the family. He is disgusted when Andrea licks his fingers. Director Hickenlooper does not want to show the pain and the awkwardness Byron went through in having sex, that he has it only when Tobias comes in storming in the middle of it. It is a film about men who cannot bear the sight of their partners loving them so much. It almost kills them to see them suffering and showering relentless love. They wonder what does she see in their flawed character to blindly believe and follow them. They are disgusted by their existence on being impotent and getting denied of being the that exemplified stature of being a man. The biological and social ego how much ever it can be peeled always leaves behind a scar.

Movies generally portray men as an affectionate father, a vengeful/frustrated/romantic husband but to understand and saying that their confusion is a blossoming out of the love in the sympathizing and heart breaking fashion could be “The Man from Elysian Fields”. We see Byron in several stages of him being the man. As a head of the house dying to not support his family, to be castrated by taking the job of accompanying and pleasuring women and then as the broken husband unable to undo the things.

But what is most beautiful about the film is the other men apart from Byron. Tobias a diseased writer loves his wife and allows her to have an escort. He deals it with his own pain and do not want his sadness to gloom her. That is the reason when he is at his happiest asks him to sleep with Andrea. The most interesting and another dimension of a man is Luther. Luther has been in the service for thirty years and he has fallen in love with a client of his, Jennifer (Angelica Houston). He proposes to Jennifer who still is married, and asks to leave her husband. Her reaction is expected but Mick Jagger gives a face of a man ripped off inside out. That would be second most humiliation a man could not stand on the screen. First one of course is Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver” getting rejected over phone while the camera moves down to hallway unable to see our man being butchered by his cry inside. Then there is Nigel (Michael Des Barres), a cheerful middle aged employee of the service providing suggestions to the newbie Byron and he provides the profound line about his profession to Dena.

There is nothing more I can tell to say how much I loved and admired the film. It is a film which in the end came whiskers away in being the traditional happy ending. Though the ending seemed more than what audience wished for than the actuality of the reality, it smoothens out. “The Man from Elysian Fields” might be the film which says that men are pigs but they are so as much as women are complicated. Andy Garcia is nothing short of meticulous in being the defeated, passionate and broken Byron. I would never expect someone like Mick Jagger subliming into the neat and wise Luther. At the same time his Luther cannot stop his nature of being the male. Olivia Williams provides a woman who can be admired and hated at different parts of the movie while James Coburn is cheerful in his Zen comments. Julianna Margulies gets less time as the loving wife of Byron but she gets the emotions so strong to really feel for the relationship when it is broken down. “The Man from Elysian Fields” is a man’s film very much for women.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"The Merry Gentleman" (2009) - Movie Review

“The Merry Gentleman” leaves us with an odd satisfaction, much like the unspoken but fulfilling moments Kate (Kelly McDonald) has with Frank (Michael Keaton). It particularly does not have a plot but events leading to seriously argue the act of people with their character history. Frank is a hitman and Kate is new in town. He is going through his hitman crisis while she is wondering what to make of the interested men in her since she escaped from a violent husband Michael (Bobby Cannavale).

With Michael Keaton debuting as director, this is a film which is much originating from the religious upbringing of right and wrong. Kate constantly brings the superior power to the situation of unknown certainty. She takes calm silences in the church opposite to the place she works. That is the same place up where she sees Frank unknown to her then getting ready to jump. She screams and that puts him off balance to fall into the building thus saving his life. She is worried and calls the cops. Next day she learns that someone got killed in the building she works and the killer got sniper shot from the building next where Kate saw the mystery man. While she pitied the person previous night, she feels bad whether she should have let him die.

Keaton strikes a peculiar film from writer Ron Lazeretti who was supposed to direct the film and a sudden illness caused him to pass the script to Keaton who was anyway supposed to play Frank. All the films I have seen of Keaton, he was a talker and here he is understandably calm. Not even succinct but totally burning inside. He sees Kate reenacting the peaceful Jesus statue she liked in the church to his friend Diane (Darlene Hunt) on his criss-cross and takes as a guiding light to his misery. Of course he finishes the job of taking care of his target.

The story poses the judgment in the human mind of the actions causing consequences. Keaton is merciless in killing his targets but is smoothing kind to Kate. Why does killers in film have a such a tendency to be the ultimate gentleman to the women? May be they are much more appreciative and patient of their short life span. But we do not see Keaton as the only man. A detective named Dave (Tom Bastounes) is interested in Kate as well. He is divorced and recovering alcoholic and a little over weight which he is conscious of, like every one. He kind of tricks Kate for a dinner in the name of discussing the case and then admits his mistake. Before it turns sour when his questioning and doubting trait of being the cop makes Kate leave upset.

There are three men in the film having a liking for Kate. Her terrorizing husband Michael who finds Kate eventually and tells that he is a reformed man. He is threatening in that as he is now an official Jesus freak praising the lord to keep his anger down. He seems genuine or may be not from the eyes of Kate for which she has sufficient good reasons. One would be the black eye she is not able to wipe out and not able to dodge the questions about it. Then is our friendly next door neighbour Dave caught between affection, insecurity, care, doubt and just being out there. Frank is the mystery man which is like a magnet for women, especially a lost one like Kate. But Keaton does not put it like that. Kate and Frank are uniquely bound by the situation they are in. Frank has no friends while Kate is afraid for any cheery talker. For her, deceit is everywhere and the slightest unsettling behaviour reminds the life she left.
“The Merry Gentleman” is more of a real film and importantly an uncompromising film. It does not joyfully closes down because it has to. It has the people being the people we are wondering “what if” conditions to the bad predicament other humans meet up with. Amongst those we are happy at the distant harm being there and not nearing us. In this mixed feeling we are in search of right and wrong. Most of all wanted to find a meaning out of it as it will be reveal the destiny they presume to have. On that the film is a sidewalk fair on a gloomy afternoon.

For the better part of the story, it is about but as her friend Dianne says, we do not know the first thing about her. She is not silent but chooses the words. Her thick Scottish accent does not help in her hermit life style. The film over all shows only few scenes where Frank and Kate speak, dine and drive. Both oddly do not speak much but find comfort in each other. “The Merry Gentleman” does not have a purpose but creates care in the characters and association with them in its audience. That makes it fulfilling if not perfect.

"The Proposal" (2009) - Movie Review

I have had the share of sitting through romantic comedies that are as processed and packed with boredom in perfection like the blockbuster mindless action films. Lately I did a good job of dodging those by choosing selectively. I ducked the “Bride Wars” and escaped from “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” but “The Proposal” got me, straight in the head. The couples in the films mentioned in real life would not pass one day into the matrimony but that is what the mind numbing films of these kind aims at and that is most of the time people want, including me go to those. There is a possibility of the film doing good job in mending the ropes properly which makes it not a complete sham. Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) and Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) though might be the only couple whom I could not believe for a moment are in love in the end. It cannot be more phony than this for the screenplay to close the curtains of them being together, happily and mainly in love.

A workaholic and a zombie editor in chief, Tate a single woman wiped out of personal life including the people she works. The cardinal rule of an assistant bringing the coffee urgently to his boss is to spill it before the energy drink gets to its destination. Walking through that eventuality, we see Andrew and rest of his colleagues scared of Tate who seem to be proud about it. She acknowledges that contempt from others and may be self satisfied with the outstanding work she does for the company. Well, lets not think that this is going to be an exploration in the world of Office Space kind of parody. It is far from it.

Andrew is blackmailed in various forms by Tate and crosses universes of ethical rules. She is a Canadian and her VISA expires. Her only way for her stay in US would be to marry a citizen. Andrew is looking for an in to being the editor and thus knows that he is in it as well. Both strike a deal to get a quick marriage followed by a divorce in a jiffy. To fool it properly, Tate travels to Andrew’s place for his grandmother’s (Betty White) 90th birthday. So they should and will fall in love.

A plea to Ryan Reynolds. Do not fall for it again. Sandra Bullock appears to have given up in doing any meaningful movies in this remaining career of hers. I hope am wrong about that. Both follow their roles of this wax characters molded out by Anne Fletcher, the director who did a successful torture before in “27 Dresses”. At least in this she has upped the possibility of a career woman forgetting a life of her own.

Andrew and Margaret as their work know their roles in this set up. People outside of work sure spring surprises. They would have been the tightened and dedicated workaholics but their wild side may be too much to witness. People like Andrew the assistant and Margaret the emotionless boss can indeed find true love outside of work. My hate for the film does not translate into the impossibility of such an event. But in “The Proposal” I could not find a speck of evidence in their obligatory kiss and the moment they lighten up to “learn” about each other. The only long conversation throughout the whole film is a five minute night time talk where Margaret as a helpful note for the things to know about her reveals a little of her sad lonely past. People do not go on to love driven by sympathy or even if they do, the spell withers as the real them bites in.
In the beautiful location of Alaska, Margaret finds being in a family and thus how it is cruel to break their heart by this plan. She sees her assistant leaving a wealthy inheritance for a career hated by his father (Craig T. Nelson) and a mother (Mary Steenburgen) longing for a visit from her son. These emotions while truthful is used stupidly confused like a teenager for bonding. I can see Margaret and Andrew becoming friends, have meaningless sex, understand there is a life outside of cut throat business, relish the beauty of nature and contribute to global warming awareness at the end of such a trip. Not in love, never ever.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"The Brothers Bloom" (2009) - Movie Review

“The Brothers Bloom” does not intend to con its audience but only the protagonist, Bloom (Adrien Brody). The setting for these brothers Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom in their child hood is said as Wes Anderson introduction. As orphans and being the foster kids, Stephen saw the trick of tricking people and he does his first con which comforts his brother to belong some where and earn a little cash. Being in a part of the plan, Bloom breaks the ice with his child hood crush and lives the life of a regular kid once. He becomes the face to pull through Stephen’s plan there after.

Writer/Director Rian Johnson whose “Brick” tells a neo-noir story set oddly in a high school environment. It was a film not empty for uniqueness yet left me a little unsatisfied. In this film, it starts off as a relaxing coffee time at our local cafe with a jazz music in the back ground we would not buy. Then the jazz music fades off and the lights are dimmed to see a teeny weeny bit of reality in this otherwise arranged screenplay. We begin to consider the relationship and character study of these con people.

I do not know about real cons but if in a film, a character says he/she are done with the business and wants out, then there will always be a “final” job. Growing up they have made a name for themselves in popularity. Who are these people cheering for them being the stars for swindling millionaires? Well, those are the quibbles which never gets answered in a con film for sleek fun and entertainment.

Stephen knows people and I mean, he knows people. He can predict the next move for any one and hence he is a planner too. He can control those in his story and not in the real world. He identifies an easy target for their next con. A lonely heir of a billionaire family is Penelope (Rachel Weisz). She learns everything on her own. That would be the reason for her using the crash method to stop her Ferrari. This is where you wonder how come she is single for a woman who looks Rachel Weisz and is interesting in her obsession for learning hobbies. A sad back story of her child hood is enough to shut our mouth and continue watching.

Stephen could have laid out a more simple plan to extract money out of her. But he says to Bloom that to give her an adventure life she would enjoy. Thus begins a journey to Prague and Bloom as expected falling for her. Who would not? Penelope is the sweetest and bubbling woman a man could not possibly resist in adoring her. After the million dollars is diddled out from her, the story becomes this scenes of doubt on whether it is real or still a part of the con, which it mostly is, or may be not. See what I mean.

Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody make good brothers. Along with the side kick Rinko Kikuchi as Bang Bang, their team has those charm to attract fans. But Rachel Weisz as this innocent but skillful Penelope is the stand out performance. The first time she kisses Brody’s Bloom, she is excited and surprised by his French kissing ability. You do not see lonely characters getting their long last touch bringing the excitement in films. And she is a treat to watch being the woman to fall in love for.

“The Brothers Bloom” has some spectacular slow motion shots which are sparse but effectively employed. The expectation in the con film is to have the big pay off, the unexpected solution. The solution that rewards the con characters we are now fan of. We want them to win the prize and emotionally becoming completely satisfied. That is where the cafe shop coffee would be. This film though while not an utter downing darkness is rather a good ending leaving to feel a pleasant experience with its audience.

"Year One" (2009) - Movie Review

I was beginning to write the following, “Mythological, theological and traditional satire are seen as this easy rides for laughs. The fantasy spin with the chats we have with our friends sometimes feel like a screenplay on the works. The truth it is if the..” and I said “Stop”. This is not going anywhere as the new comedy “Year One”. This is not so much as offensive or controversial but an inability to go for the jokes, stretch themselves out. What “Year One” does is that it not alone eats dirt and surprised by the stale audience but also takes the formula cake occasionally and again wonder why we are complaining. This is bad, really really bad, very very bad, horribly bad. Did I say “bad’ many times? Yes it is bad.

The title opens up with a serious back ground score as the hunters are aiming to kill a boar and we know there is a punch line for the comedy. Enters Jack Black as the stupid Zed whose character is the obnoxious loser he has always played well, only in this it reeks of repeatability. If one actor cornered a market for himself in the arena of nerdy, nice, shy and importantly, a virgin, then it is Michael Cera. Elongate some shabby hair and rip off the clothes for a cave man style from the sweet kid in “Superbad”, you have Oh.

Harold Ramis directs a film exploring the used up old jokes which honestly were not good ones either when it came new. Beginning with Black being Black and Cera being Cera, the drill of nobodies being pushed to go through the adventures in the long ago past with fart humour, crap humour, sleazy disgusting old man and everything that were thought, executed and hit with failures have been taken again and made worser. This is not disgusting but sad.

It is like riding through a studio tour of ancient sets wherein bad actors reenact the times of cave ancestors. At least they would not talk in that trying to do some stunts which would draw our attention. “Year One” has too much of confidence in the presence of Jack Black who again needs a proper director to put him where he would strike the place. His same social awkwardness character was put forth simply and charmingly in “School of Rock” while Ben Stiller rightly used him for the striking dialogue for his “Tropic Thunder”. Ramis seem to have lost that in containing Black. But then again there is nothing to work upon by the actors too.

And how many times Michael Cera has to lose his virginity? It is getting time for him to do something radically different than being type casted miserably as this kid. If I thought of one person being spiraled in the pit of type cast, that would be Christopher Mintz-Plasse from “Superbad” who actually proved that he can be varied in the same territory of being the lost kid and be funny in “Role Models”. Here he is not too bad coming in a miniscule role of Isaac.

Trying a satire spoof of the old times needs iron hands too. Look at what Kevin Smith did in “Dogma”. He slices the flesh and did not worry for a second be the happy ending or settled for a deduced ending. It is bound to have the liberalism involved in the films weaving the biblical parts as a comedy but not doing it because of a possible scare and a little of insecurity of not getting a box office hit seems a cliched reason to give a pass for.

“Year One” I read cut some scenes to get PG-13 rating. That is unnecessary because in today’s environment, it appears that kids and adults alike enjoy more disgusting jokes purely for the shock factor than anything else. Generally the recent comedy trend is to not alone let the main characters suffer and get fun out of it but begin to care for them in the end where even the obvious seems to be forgotten and forgiven. The problem with “Year One” is that I could not see Zed and Oh. I only saw Jack Black and Michael Cera showing that they depend on material than anything else.

Friday, June 19, 2009

"The Tailor of Panama" (2001) - Movie Review

“The Tailor of Panama” imposes the judgment rigged out of spy film and marginally runs as a spoof only that this being very real. As a disgraced spy with a knack for having affairs, Andy Osnard (duh ! It is Pierce Brosnan) is sent to Panama. Osnard immediately gets the man for the job in knowing the insides of the country he is in, a tailor of the name Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush). Pendel is the social connection to the roots of the millionaires and thus the corruptors and sleazy operators in the town. He knows them because many owe him money for the suits he tendered to them with care. He is the English gentleman but with a dirt from the past puts him right on the job. What he weaves for Andy is what makes the film a funny and sad state of affairs.

The film happens post 1999 sovereignty handling of the US to the canal. Brothels and poverty are looming down the town and Pendel has been in this place for a while to survive the dictatorship of General Noiraga. His old time buddy and a veteran front runner for the people who stood up against the regime, Mickie (Brendan Gleeson) has lost it after brutal imprisonment and an atrocity to witness Marta (Leonor Varela), Harry’s receptionist and a close friend’s face was scarred by the regime’s cops. Harry has nothing about the canal because nothing is happening around it. Andy needs something. Harry can build palaces on the fly and convince his customers of a great fit and cloth he has provided, all at the same time, while sleeping eyes open. He has a gift, for saying lies.

Such has earned a peaceful family life with a beautiful working wife Louisa (Jamie Lee Curtis) and two adorable kids, Sarah (Lola Boorman) and Mark (young Daniel Radcliffe). He loves his friend Mickie and Marta. Andy is sloppy at his work. With only a loud speaker missing, Andy goes on revealing his identity to every one he meets. But he is brainy which we do not know. Harry sees money in this and a possible out for his debts along with helping the discouraged Mickie and Marta. He begins to build stories of “Silent Opposition” and buying of the canal. Andy keeps the MI 6 tempting with this sweet deal so that they can get a name and be the favourites of US. Andy is loud mouthed and bubbles with over confidence but he knows his way around.

The film is the spy game played well, one knowing and other does not realizing the actual ripple effect of this. It does not take much to fool any one when the facade is told with the trait as Harry does. Yet there is something underlying in Andy drooling for stories. Brosnan does not need to sweat hard in playing the womanizer but he gives a spy sleazed up enough and knows the system can be brought on to the criss-cross without disturbing it. In between these men develops a relationship which raises suspicion in Louisa. Louisa works in the canal authority department and when Harry says he has nothing else to give for, Andy grins to buy his wife out and earn more.

“The Tailor of Panama” is the possibility of such an international wide event on a pack of lies humbles down as a viewer and a member of the globe. As the sun sets down, we sleep as any other human being does and be fooled as any one else will be. Be it the superior powers and intelligent minds, that fact of life is the ego we never admit to ourselves. The high stake game of clandestine operative and smart capability can be a great equivalent to the people around gullible enough to be fed the bogus facts with courageous fluency for standing it up straight and tall.

Trust and doubt are separated by the flimsy line and it is black and white in the extremities. Both co-exist on that surface and the fact emanates out of that like a clean and sterilized vapour of believability. “The Tailor of Panama” evolves out of those two with a pure lie and makes believe the highest power in the world. But looking at it in a perspective, they were in hunt for an excuse to barge in and reclaim the possession. Fictional story as such, John Boorman directs an entertaining, funny and realistic spy spoof.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Interview" (2007) - Movie Review

Infamous celebrities get the infamous part from the media and the celebrities from the same media. That would be Sienna Miller’s sex pot soap opera star Katya in “Interview” a film directed and acted by Steve Buscemi. The film plays as a textbook screenplay surviving in the word play and acting but soon the gamble and wordplay becomes too predictable. An untalented spoiled actor having that darkness in her glamour life and the political journalist having a sadness of his own find a chord to connect with each other. The trust game and the odd times when they seduce, humiliate and embarrass each other is little too careless as the secrets are out and the film acknowledges its smartness and open ended finish.

In the book “The Game” by Neil Strauss, he writes about how he managed to get a good interview out of Britney Spears. He began to shelf his journalistic skills and brought out his pick up artist tactics to make her comfortable and well giving a serious look at him, as it is essential to get a good interview. Seen so much of tabloid attacks and exaggerations, there is no sense in the sensational news of a celebrity. The media even the proclaimed elite one succumbed to the business of running it than the actual truth of a story. But when a newspaper is stamped for a serious stuff, it is about the war correspondence and political chaos. True that it requires a consistent coverage but the professionalism taking those while doing the interviews of any one does not take a back seat either. Steve Buscemi’s Pierre is annoyed and feels demoted to be sent to document this star of the B movies and unfulfilling artistic garbage soap operas she does. He is a little too unprofessional.

He is put in his place by his editor, not allowing him to go to Washington DC to cover a political scandal and he has stared the white table cloth and shoved couple of bourbons before Katya arrives. He is annoyed by him being conditioned like a kid in a principal’s room by the restaurant host to not use the cellphone. Katya comes by with the cute ringer which eats the brain as the film progresses. She talks carefree and the host now ogles at the ceiling. It just keeps getting better and better for Pierre. He looks down and becomes detached as possibly he can in the questions he asks to Katya. Katya opposed to the opinions of others is offended and floundered by how she is not taken seriously. It ends in a funny bad note. Both flee and an incident outside leaves Pierre injured and Katya takes him to her loft nearby where the actual film happens.

Katya is the loose cannon of emotions. She swings by from one end to another. One minute she is caring, deep and affectionate towards Pierre and next minute stomps upon those built up reputation. Pierre is no different. Surely he is knocked off by this jumping and screaming sex goddess. But being the righteous ideal jerk he is, he believes to have full control over his penis. Unfortunately not and he kisses her as she closes in on him to dare. Then as the obvious control and demand Katya survives upon, she detaches and again humiliates him. This game keeps going on and by now Pierre gives up and says he does not care anything at all about her cussing and butchering his character. Of course there comes the opening up and things should have been taken differently from there on.

The suspicion between them is the winner and killer for this film. Katya can be herself but she has lost it. Not in the sobbing characters she portrays but being made as the tabloid freakshow. Pierre a man of high stand slowly begins to empathize for her. Before the night, he thought of her as this unreasonable woman swimming in the hedonistic supremacy of the world while weeping at the torturous life she assume to have and now he is wondering whether there is a real reason for the hoopla of her emotional circus. We learn about him through Katya on his professional and personal decline.

The game of high powered venereal tension between Katya and Pierre is further ignited by their professional side and main effects. Both are stealth and scheming in giving out the details. As men and women struggle to not give in openly to their actual inner self and be vulnerable, lot of there is in stake for a rather scandalous actress and a reporter feeling big of the society’s responsible citizen he has been. No doubt that it helps “Interview” with Buscemi and Miller acting precisely in an open claustrophobic loft. But “Interview” suddenly becomes a character of being the film maker. The important nuggets of the cinema stops and look back at its audience. Then it acts smart and is caught up in the carelessness in executing leaving the characters only of facade and insincerity. The cheating is neither clever nor comically cynical. It is only sad because we really cared for these characters and they wear a new skin because that is what they were threatened to.

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Up and Down" (Language - Czech) (2004) - Movie Review

“Up and Down” is a comedy where the troubles are real. The people in it are funny but their pains is every one’s. A film running through series of characters in a modern Czech overflowing with immigrants, legal and illegal, “Up and Down” keeps itself off the balance and hence provide something unfulfilling yet a serious good time watching it. Its people are petty thieves, long returning son, a dying father, a disgruntled lonely mother, a curious sister, a wife unknown of her future, a woman longing for a baby with her reforming football fanatic husband and of course the misplaced baby in the human smuggling of illegal immigrants.

The compressed globe has mingled the world. The unseeable distances are few hours now while the few miles are several hours. And in those waiting frustrating times every country person see at least three to four people of different country. It is a change like any other. The TV serials and sitcoms now have a rule of three ethnicity based characters. They are not stereotypes but a representation of this intertwined diverse place. It is encouraging but as human’s fundamental emotion of territorial belonging, it is a challenge to go against it.

Vera is a mother (Emília Vásáryová) who sees her son after twenty years, Martin (Petr Forman). He left when his father Otto (Jan Triska) went for another woman Hana (Ingrid Timková). Otto requires a surgery that could eat up his life and he invites his wife and son for a lunch like no other. Vera is mad. I mean if you could put together the bitterness and the underlying punching innuendos of the planet’s entire women population, then she would do full justice to that count with sadness, wrath and rage in equal dangerous amounts. Emília spits venom and we hate her for the uncivilized and boorish attitude on a reunion. Then she comes out as Martin follows to talk with her. She erupts and stands in the agony of twenty years of being left alone and no one to care for her. She sent Martin for his own good but she is disappointed that he never returned for her. And when she sees Lenka having her life, she cannot tolerate it.

In that scene Vera mocks and groans out of the inequality the country has put through and Lenka being the refugee personnel, it only gets worse. How a person takes the social situation in to their personal disaster is a mirror to every one cribbing about the social inefficiency used as an anger cushion. Vera is one such. Martin is a returning man seeing the life he left behind. He sees his mom who is unchanged in her humour but a different personality in other territories. He sees his lost love and new acceptance from a dad who has seen him as a disappointment in the past. Their story is a crucial commentary of the social system of the city and a family. It is controversial and questionable but works in its own way.

Around these are Mila (Natasa Burger) and Frantisek (Jirí Machácek), a couple living in low income and making their tiny family with a happiness they could afford. Frantisek is a security for a theme park. He is recovering from a football fanatic past which has stained his criminal record. Mila wants a child and she could not. Frantisek’s past denies their chance for adoption and Mila is desperate for a baby. Frantisek is clay model who can be pushed for anything. Mila has successfully kept him away from the dreaded influence of Colonel (Jaroslav Dusek), another super crazy fan trying to bully his buddy back to the field. Their story is the comedy ending in a tragedy we would not expect.

“Up and Down” is not an impressive film but something away from the ordinary. It is truthful in its characters and honest in the situations. Director Jan Hrebejk connects these people but not for an end or the fate of coincidences. He simply dissects the society the country currently is in. This is not a scale model of it but a depiction of the people affected by the change they perceive in several way which align similar as any other nation going through such a process. It travels from a certain point to another and does not pose a solution or a finish. It is a story of multitude of emotion which waves through it and makes to smile and then feel sad too.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"The Yes Men" (Documentary) (2003) - Movie Review

\Cons, impostors and corrupt politicians depend on things which are the tools applied across the table to convincingly present themselves and achieve their goals. Confidence delivering the most nonsensical idea with the straight face and utmost devotion to it is the key. In the documentary “The Yes Men”, Andy Bichlbaum and Michael Bonanno represent World Trade Organization with the sort of commitment even the real representatives would not do. They of course satire the WTO with immense preparation and dedication to their anti globalization values.


In a rest room Michael is helping Andy put on a costume which is what it appears to be a golden glown leather type material. It is then covered with a proper suit. They are in preparation of their first public prank and this is not for kicks. It might be a little but their agenda is to shock people on the seemingly seriousness of the crap they will be feeding imposing as the executives of the WTO. We come to that presentation learning how they started and what have they been doing. Their actions began with first producing a fake website for George W. Bush. They bring a sort of believability in their posing. Soon they did the same for WTO calling the fake website as gatt.org. Interesting enough, people began to mistake them for the real WTO and sent email questions. They replied not revealing their true identity but giving their “version” of answer with the official sincerity. Thus begins their journey for a bigger prank to a bigger audience.

The beautiful thing about the film and these men are the unabashed commitment in presenting this other characters. Commitment which is purely not to put themselves higher on the pedestal of pestering self righteousness but to glaringly show where we as the people in the world stand and the same for the attending audience. In their first show, they sincerely say how the morphed slavery in the current world could have been the peacemaker for the Civil War conflicts. And to effectively pursue the route of prosperous corporate profit, they invent this suit of big inflated penis like popping thing which is supposed to have a TV screen monitoring the third world workers in sweat shops and what not. For this, the people laugh at the suit’s appearance rather than the sad preposterous concept. No one seem to see the deviance in this and we laugh and worry.

“The Yes Men” is dramatic in shocking the people but the people involved really do a low key of their philosophies in a composed fashion that we go along for the ride with a clean heart. Michael Moore gives an interview and he is collected and not doing any stunts. Similar to the film and with Andy and Michael it is a low keyed high prank with considerable effectiveness. They get another project to present in an Australian trade conference. For that they put immense preparation and do a graphic which would gross out and laugh out with a harmonious reaction rarely occurring.

Another film of anti-globalization agenda was “The Corporation”, a successful film in making the workers for any company on a guilt trip without offering solution. “The Yes Men” does not advocate much to its audience rather than pointing out the situation of us in the world where the insane things does make sense. As much as it sounds idiotic, cruel and atrocious it sounds of the futuristic solutions these fake executives give, it oddly happens in a submerged version through the tentacles of power and corrupt.

This is a comedic film of a serious issue. A satire worked at its best and a spoof which is more serious than the original. They do a presentation on the US McDonald’s Hamburger consumed by their customers which are recycled several times to the third world countries and the students attending go astounded. They do not know how to react to this farce which very well is a convincing (of course with terrific animation and gravity on their faces) situation soon be placed in action. “The Yes Men” brings upon awareness on something which does not involve great emotional black mail or dramatization. It is a simple satire executed perfectly.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" (2009) - Movie Review

The 1974 “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” should have been considerably departed from everything from the Tony Scott version. I can see the character of hijacker be more calm and collected than the talkative and maniacal John Travolta’s Ryder. What saves this film through the ballsiness in taking up such a preposterous plot is the actors. Not alone Travolta and Denzel Washington but John Turtoro as the negotiating detective and James Gandolfini as the Mayor of New York City. And their subordinates punctuating their dialogues with the reflex to substantiate the effect for that scene. Hence from an otherwise terrific collapse, “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” cautious in its limits arrives safely and mildly effective to its audience.

The demand money is carried from a long last place in the city in a car with guarded police officers into the hells of the traffic. A passenger car is destroyed, a police officer gets bumped into a parked car and finally the money car itself gets a disastrous end. Mayor of the City (James Gandolfini) in the meantime in the Rail Control center with his assistants asks “Why the hell they did not put the money in the chopper?” and the crew stares silent. This is where the film edges itself out of the misery of the plot considerations, ridiculous ones.

In “Broken Arrow”, John Travolta came as the symbol of style and cool, and taught a thing or two about being a villain without flinching a face muscle. Clean shaven, shades that gets defined by his walk and simply him biting the words to communicate his thoughts were something I remember the life in that time of the film for me. Before we know he stepped in to another villain of style in “Face/Off” and Nicolas Cage joining the ride with him. John Woo got the best from this guy in an unfamiliar role for him in those films. Here he is talkative, boasting, totally uncool but a terror. We would not want him to see us. He bullies and befriends the subway dispatcher forcing to be his negotiator and as he terms broker for his ransom money. He holds a subway car in a crucial point of the route and demands ten million from the city of New York.

Tony Scott hates constant stable images. He gambles with the scrambled imagery of his for a hurried motion in the film making the viewers unstable and blurry. It helps and kills in his films. It has a neutral effect because he gladly chose to fixate camera close ups with Washington’s Garber and Travolta’s Ryder. Scott likes an unusual picture and sound for his music. Here he does not use a serious back ground score for the tense times when Ryder goes on a shooting spree or during the time crunching scenarios of encompassing the mood of the film as such. He begins with “99 Problems” by Jay Z and takes fast track tempo tracks to hip hop it and grunge it. While people are killed, Scott still underlines the factor of entertainment than taking the film to great seriousness.

But he does make the psychological chemistry of Ryder and Garber to line up for the commonality in their situation. Of course it is quite a far feat to link a hijacker to the accused bribing over Garber. At one point in the film, Ryder points a gun at a hostage and demands an honest answer from Garber of his innocence in the accusation. Ryder who planned this whole heist and knows the result, begins to while away the time beginning to colloquial the moral stature in between him and Garber. He almost seem to be obsessed with Garber.

The plot of the film reeks of routine, formula and eventuality. Hence we are not really interested in the outcome of the situation and see what these actors can do with the lines they are given. And they suffice their job with utmost dedication and perfection for what a commercial thriller processing factory demands. Denzel Washington’s man is way too cool handled for the situation he has been put forth but he has also adjusted the complexity of routing and assisting the subway from that closed compartment. Adding to that he is going through the investigation over him for so many days that he sees it as one another thing. Of course it gets to the reality when people begin to die.

“The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” is as regular of a thriller might get and that is exactly what you get out of it. What is so special about this plot that will be far more different from very many other films we have seen before? I do not know. I honestly do not see any kind of speciality with this story. I could not care less about the values Garber holds and Ryder does not. It is mindless game of thriller ride and the actors rise up for the fun.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"The Dying Gaul" (2005) - Movie Review

Some time today, I was mentioning to a friend about how it is ineffective to analyze logical in emotional impulse. I vaguely remember specifying that illogic behaviour in fairly recent review and seeing “The Dying Gaul” faltering made me realize whether I did not acknowledge that observation. Does the rationality which is a parallel existence by this eccentricity made this film an empty experience? The rationality is the sanity in judging to the best of the abilities and hence while I fully understand the implications of the statement, the robotic senses in me identified the flaw, a flamboyantly blatant one in it.

“The Dying Gaul” is the film which does not need much to develop curiosity. More so it does not keep protect its sword of sharp writing in its sheath. Robert Sandrich (Peter Sarsgard) is a writer whose script made the doorway into the studio. The Executive Jeffrey (Campbell Scott) knows that it is a splendid screenplay but gives the known lesson in the glamorous sarcastic truthfulness of Hollywood reality to Robert. Robert as any artistic writer do not want to compromise as the story is about his agent who was his lover and died recently of AIDS. But Jeffrey is a good executive and gets the deal. His wife a retired screenwriter Elaine (Patricia Clarkson) is moved and desperately wants to meet Robert.

So far you are wondering when am I going to shoot at this good setup. Well it is coming in. Jeffrey wants to sleep with Robert and he does. Elaine sympathizes so much with Robert on his suffering of the lost love that she is ready to disguise into a stranger and share his pain in an online chat room. So this triangle of love should have been the film or learn reasonably well about the sexuality of these characters putting their commitments and responsibilities to a turmoil. And we see more devious than the cheating of Jeffrey over his lovely wife and Robert over her kindness and trust. Elaine learning about this over a candid speech from Robert in the chat decides to mess up the already messed Robert. She poses as the dead lover Malcolm.

Already in pain and anguish over the loss and the guilt, Robert is teased, tortured and banished in to further grief by a merciless angry spouse. Writer/Director Craig Lucas leaves the peeling of these characters and begins to get into the conversation of proving Malcolm’s presence and the effect of it towards the fragile Robert. Whether Elaine attains pleasure in doing this, we do not know because Clarkson gives an indifferent and inanimate expression over Elaine. While Robert and Jeffrey smile and behave casual over the picnic and gatherings, Elaine does the deception to a greater degree by acting oblivious to the awareness of their relation and intimately continues her life as a married woman and a mother. Why is she postponing the confrontation or why does she want to torment the man who does not need much of a push to fall into the brink of death? It is not the illogical resultant of an emotional outbreak but a conclusion which has no meaning, pathos or a sense of short story-film noir darkness.

“The Dying Gaul” is a wasteful exercise which has a rare idea of its unfounded depth in a very shallow story. It is a not that it makes Elaine a hateful woman but does not validate the eerie darkness and her diabolical intentions clearly on the table. In between these two is the clueless Jeffrey not so in his actions but as a personality in the script. His immediate attraction towards Robert though for carnal pleasures is not shown as such and only left dubious to make whatever of it. He is a devoted father and a husband but well, he sleeps with Robert. His bisexuality is used as a device for intrigue and not material.

It is a classic indie material not because of its richness but purely of its approach towards forms of sexuality as a backdrop than a content. It either does not take that boldness in the treatment of it on inconceivable suffering for a bisexual being through Jeffrey. It does not even address the insane love Robert have over his dead lover because he is searching for the answers in his faith than the actuality of his actions. And I do not have a speck of evidence of the machinations of Elaine in doing what she does. “The Dying Gaul” is not alone a badly drafted script but has aimless figures whose only purpose is to behave as the script does, more provocatively for no reason.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"The Ice Harvest" (2005) - Movie Review

Movie like “The Ice Harvest” could pull its viewers in with few actors’ performances of a very smartly written dialogue and then stumble towards a different story failing of course in doing so. There could have been some other story between Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) and his drunken friend Pete (Oliver Pratt) and get the devious Vic (Billy Bob Thornton) to join in the fun without any blood spills. That is the film I would have wanted to see or that is the film the movie promised in the first two acts of it. Too sad to see it depart to come back to its actual venture in the start.

John Cusack is again the nice guy with an appetite for getting corrupted. He would do that making all right and still maintain his good man charm. He is a famous mob lawyer out here and as the tradition of dark comedy film, at the opening scenes he stands cold against the chilly wind to recite the lines so there to intrigue but not make much sense in hindsight. Having past that, “The Ice Harvest” jumps right into its grounds. Charlie pulled the big money out of the mob boss he works with the muscle of Vic. Smooth and clean. Vic advises Charlie to be normal and get through the night to settle in a better place before the rain begins to turn blood. Charlie does not do anything crazy but the normal actions becomes too much of a hint. He is a nice guy but he goes a little over the top and a hot strip club owner Renata (Connie Nelsen) grips on it.

If we clip off the final twenty minutes, then it is a film I loved. Charlie is not the action guy. He works for the mob but he keeps his hands clean personally. As the doubts get the better of him, he begins to call Vic and then meet him personally to clarify because there is the enforcer of the mob boss looking for them. Vic as the man with the guts settles him and Charlie is requested to be the designated driver for a friend, the drunk Pete. Here is the interesting detail which connects them. Pete married Charlie’s ex-wife. They both reminisce the times they were and how Pete is finding tough to cope with the life and wife he bargained for. Their part is the film I would have seen develop into. It does to tie the happy end. Corny and made up.

The suspense is unnecessary. Surely Vic is the dangerous man with unstable notions. He can pull the trigger without a trouble while Charlie is the middle class guy who indeed gets a chance to swindle. Charlie though knows the stake and while he remains cool as he could possibly be, the signs are discouraging his calmness. Cusack can be dark and likable with a strong black suit and red tie, almost a symbolism for the devil. Thornton does not need to be in the role of Vic if you ask me. Yet he does it and fills the shoes for a decent pay check I presume.

The most unnecessary character in the film would be Renata, the hot throb hope for Charlie to pursue things to turn around a new life. First of all, never dress a woman so hot and made up in a dark comedy. Next, never make her the crush for the protagonist who would do crazy things to attain her. Finally, never ever make her to invite the chump main man to come over and suddenly develops a passion for a night. The film does all of this faithfully and gets in trouble to settle for a below par finish up.

Harold Ramis had a good two act script from Richard Russo and Robert Benton adapting from the novel of the same name by Scott Phillips. There are running gags and reoccurring character which are not a brand symbols for a film like this but more of a traditional ritual being done for no reason. After a while we very well know when Charlie is alone what are the possible characters and phrases we would see.

“The Ice Harvest” is a funny film and often serious on itself. When it does both of those, it is a smooth sail. The characters know even if they are drunk on what they are talking and the relationship with each other begin to have a development amongst them. It is strange that the film’s main plot begins to suck the originality of the story. It is as if the writers after the outline began to think of something better between couple of people and kept on writing. Then suddenly they remembered the outline and took a “follow this if you are writing a wicked comedy thriller” book to finish it.

"The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" (2004) - Movie Review

Wes Anderson makes the wackiest of stories and the implausible characters. He does so both laughing and caring at them simultaneously. At a certain speed for the story, we are laughing out loud on the eccentricity and the goofball nature of the people, especially Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and suddenly like a appreciable speed breaker he would depart and dip us into this moving emotion in between those people, again especially with Steve Zissou. “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” might be the weirdest, funniest, most surreal, cinematic, genuine and emotionally touching film you can find in this era of straight forward story telling.

The biggest lodge of complaints against Bill Murray is his stoic face for every thing. Love, anger, laugh, quirky and the list of the things an actor rehearses and seasons to bring through are carried on by his stone face. Whether he takes extra effort to be such, I do not know but the characters he plays with an unknown enigma differentiates from each other. He was the lonely old man searching for a lost love in his life of many girl friends in Jim Jarmusch’s “Broken Flowers” and as the bored celebrity in a strange land he fell in love with Scarlett Johannson in “Lost in Translation”. Both brought two different people having similar emotions. Many might say that they can be interchanged in the films and still will not spot the discrepancy. I would disagree because despite the connecting factor of loneliness and the grey hairs, Bill Murray brings on a dialogue delivery which can remotely emotional of various diversity according to the situation and the surroundings. He with that frigid face emphatically succeeds in being Steve Zissou, the wacky sailor ganging up his crew to revenge for his friend Esteban’s death (Seymour Cassel). The killer is a doubtful Jaguar Shark.

Penning along with Noah Baumbach, Anderson creates people with combinations we meet with in the dreams (of course after seeing another Wes Anderson film). Zissou had his glory years of adventurer in his films (documentary he says) saving sea creatures which were thought to be extinct and daredevil explorations. He is been having a dry period of films not hitting the audiences and his wife Eleanor (Anjelica Houston) getting fed up with his deadly sea cruises taking lives. Many say that the film which Steve showed appears to be fake as there is no evidence of this shark he claims to have eaten his friend. He wants to achieve everything out of this voyage. Vengeance, lost fame, his wife and possibly his long last abandoned son of his, Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson).

There are writers and directors whose imagination are striking. Not alone because of the picture they draw upon the screen but how precisely they could able to communicate to their audience that this what I thought of and here you go, enjoy it as I did in my own mind. Without a thorough development of bringing out the nerves in the brain to the sketch, this would have been a try not a completion. The surreal creatures are placed not in the central frame but along the back ground of these characters.

Steve Zissou goes through the phase of any famed personality seeing the demise of it. He has love for others. The pale approach on speaking with people does not hide that fact. He is giving up and then kicks himself to run the show for one more day. And then there is the young pregnant beauty on the boat. Jane Winslett-Richardson (Cate Blanchett) is the journalist doing a cover on this man, possibly the only hope of his resurrection amongst the media. As a broken hearted lonely husband, he battles for attention from her along with his “might be” son Ned. Though Jane likes Ned without any surprises. I love the way Anderson provides the last name with nice details attached to their personality and background.

Having praised about “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”, the reader of this review should be cautious. Because depending on the eyes this might be easily be the classic you would cherish or the crap you would hate to individual frames of it, taking time to curse it hoping for this horrible film to end. How could I say that when I loved it? It is because of the taste. It is indeed a fact that I would recommend even the worst films to some of the people who adore films to make an opinion of their own, this film I can see the few of the people despising it for its existence. Strange when a director’s film can propagate the duality of it to its viewer.

This is a film which is rich in photography, music, editing, screenwriting and the direction. It is an exercise in how a story of unbelievable characters living in a world resembling one of ours pass on the funding to be made in to a film. And am glad it passed because Wes Anderson provides the entertainment and enjoyment without any disguise for its natural element and does not compromise a bit for the way it treats its characters.

Monday, June 08, 2009

"Intimate Strangers" (Language - French) (2004) - Movie Review

We have a finesse talent in getting tangled with people and get in a bind. The point of that devised no return unfurls through a span of time. There is a significant and identifiable clarity in a specific day where the mirror of our image brightens with the prosperity of positivism. We the beings manage to surprise through miraculous implausibilities and never knowing the trick which produced such a life changing result. One such beautiful entwinement falls on the door steps of William Faber (Fabrice Luchini). An angelic face and melancholic expression as a dead pale corpse arrives Anna (Sandrine Bonnaire). Both follow an instinct which becomes a nameless relationship because the move is postponed, shied and deliberately avoided due to the manner in which they met each other.

In a building where the top floor are meant only for small time offices is where William conducts his work. Anna comes for an appointment with him where he does not expect to see any one for that evening. She begins to recite her troublesome marriage and how she has reached the limits of this long term commitment. She breaks out explaining her husband’s absence of intimacy for more than half a year. William listens and is surprised. She feels little relieved and schedules another appointment same time next week. William does not get a say in it. He is worried. Both for Anna and for him. Because his forte is not psychoanalysis rather numbers. He is a tax lawyer.

In this misunderstanding births this meeting of two people. William struggles in the second meet to tell her the truth. It is one of those cinematic moments where the hesitant in the revealing person and the hurriedness in the other makes an incomplete dialogue and a careless continuance of the lie to the next step. William does not mind as he is getting to the point of frozen foods in microwave with a wine and classical music which can only satisfy him to certain extent. We expect this game to go on till the end. How easily this could be a Hollywood romantic comedy or romantic drama to be manhandled miserably. But Patrice Leconte uses this accident as a strange meeting and soon both are aware of each other. A week later Anna shows up again and William continues to run “sessions” as a listener of course getting insights now and then from the actual psychiatrist Dr. Monnier (Michel Duchaussoy) next door whom Anna came in first for.

Anna opens up and William as expected begins to spiral in this unusual conversation with her. He meets and sleeps with his ex-girl friend Jeanne (Anne Brochet). Both know it is over, William especially. Yet it is one of those odd moments where each does not know what happens to the post break up as they have been such a good friends. They seem to be over it but the tail wags a while before it is broken in such a way for no remedy or backlash. Such has not happened in them and he shares everything with her. Jeanne with a correct mix of care and jealousy hints the path of nowhere it goes. Without not a speck of change does William gives back the sarcasm and doubt towards Jeanne’s muscular boy friend Luc (Laurent Gamelon).

While Anna pours her intimate details and the struggles with her spouse who seem to be muddled and as mentioned by William needs help in therapy, Dr. Monnier hints the possibility of everything being made up or fantasized for the sake of being sympathetic, melodramatic and an ear to listen for. Not really, as Marc (Gilbert Melki) Anna’s husband shows up.

More than the plot, it is the sideline audience in the film which brings forth a dimension but mainly a thought we had. There is homemaker watching a soap opera so ridiculous and twisted that it runs as a parody of the current scenario of intertwined relationship we see in Anna, William and Marc. William’s secretary (Hélène Surgère) plays a cautious and suspicious motherly role for him as she has worked for his father too. She emits a look for rudeness and discomfort at the sight of Anna. These characters adds a surrounding nature of people to affect us but not Anna and William.

Eduardo Serra moves the camera as the person seeing the other. He moves around the hands, necks, the subtle cleavage, the new dress, the tie that is absent and the eye contact which is not developed. “Intimate Strangers” as we go by takes its time and then suddenly erupts not in screams and curses but this unknown existence of fake therapy schedule getting on William. Anna came for attention and gets it from her husband later but also realizes what she has done to her and William. “Intimate Strangers” has so many underlying message of complex behaviours buried in the congested but neatly arranged papers and books of Williams’ office. Both Anna and William give in to this strange agreement knowing the result but unrevealing in the process. What is bound to happen arrives but not the way you would expect it to be. The mastery of French films are so suave and classy that it can handle even the cheesiest of scenes to a level of elegance.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

"Bullitt" (1968) - Movie Classics

In the San Francisco Hospital, the titular character Frank Bullitt charmed by Steve McQueen watches a witness victim being treated by the team of doctors inside the operation theatre. As he walks down after visiting a wounded colleague in the attack he sees that through the small window on the door. For several minutes we see doctors requesting incision equipments and so many scissors. No music runs through. In fact except for few occasions, the sounds we hear are the natural noises and yells of the artificial traffic and the bright afternoon desolating the streets of San Francisco. And we do not see McQueen for that window of time. We go through what Bullitt sees observing and wondering whether that effort is going to bring back the guy who was under his protection as appointed by an uprising politician Chalmers, played with the classy sleaziness by Robert Vaughn.

“Bullitt” is not your average action thriller. It has a central character choosing to communicate through silence and sullen face. He is succinct and he is called upon for work by Chalmers. When Chalmers meets him, we see a considerable difference in their body language. Chalmers tries to pose enormous amount of responsibility on the assignment he is ordering Frank to do. Frank is casual but not condescending. While it is new for the politician, it is the job he does. Yet he is not modest nor is he sarcastic. However seriousness with an emotional indifference we bring to our work in the tables, similar is Frank’s reaction. The numbness though is not alone in the regular assignment of dangerous situations but towards the death and doom he endures.

Steve McQueen is a stunner in how he carries the character. He is not a zombie nor a socially inept being taking his work on his back. He has a girl friend (Jacqueline Bisset) and he shields the nastiness his line of work needs to put up. She knows it and wants to partake in that pain. He smiles and tell her to sleep. He gels very easily in a table with his friends and in it we do not hear dialogues but the ambience in the lightness on their face and the music that is played.

Bullitt has some of the craziest stunts you could imagine for the 1960s. In it we get the camera vision of the things we know is a definite danger to the camera man. And the classic car chase amongst the up and down streets of the beautiful sunshiny San Francisco is the first time you see the choreography of that stunt as an art form. As Bullitt surprises his tailing buddies spinning the table back at them by following, they take off in to the concrete mountains of the city. In that they cruise through the bushes of cars while Bullitt does the same. Of course the best part is that we are in the passenger seat when Frank is full throttle and swings the steering to break out its limits.

Director Peter Yates strips off the dramatic elements and the sudden surprising movements not in the stunts but in the characters to bare minimal. There is not funny one liners or a cool passing of comments to fill the gaps between the action. It is the closest a thriller film could come to the realism. While the action is there, we see the real danger than as an entertainment. But mainly we see that as any other job, the rest of the time is a clock work, most of the times ending with a failure quite physically down, as the death of a suspect or a witness.

But mind you, that the procedure of stripping of the amplified drama does not amputate the character study of this man. And his values are not a caravan of a politician’s speech but having it under his skin to conduct it to his best abilities. He speaks when asked by the right person and with the right question. His girl friend while giving a ride to Frank comes to see a murder scene. She is disgusted, feared and the whole future with Frank flashes through. While in other films where it would have been used as a catapult for creating more pressure on the tired Lieutenant, “Bullitt” cares it with the persona of not alone Frank but also his girl friend’s point of view. She knows the dirtiness but would like to live without its notice. That is what Frank was doing all this time.

The people in the film move as our bosses, foes and friends. A supportive boss (Simon Oakland) holding the doors from letting Chalmers and his influence buddies making them concede to their orders. And he behaves as the boss not able to withstand beyond his power. Chalmers might appear as the cinematic political villain but Robert Vaughn is subtle, as a member of the government servant. He presents in an immaculate suit and hair combed to detail delivers request and commands with a concealed token of power and bribery. He is the scheming personality coming as the man who knows how to make a deal with the devil and stand upright to attract many others on his self righteous explanation of compromises. Not to Bullitt though who throughout the film avoids speaking with him and responds only once with more than few sentences and ending with a “Bullsh*t”.