Action, Drama, English Movies

Watchmen directed by Zack Snyder

Watchmen_2 The problem with some books (more specifically graphic novel, in this case) is that they are literally untranslatable into movie form. Especially when the story is highly complex and interwoven with multiple characters with a storyline that needs to go back and forth in time to make sense.

The problem doubles when the storyline contains “Superheroes”. Then the movie has to take form of the typical action superhero format (Batman, Spiderman etc) or become watered down in its effort to appeal both to the graphic novel fan and to the mass audience. An example of the latter is V for Vendetta, which was a highly sanitized teenager version of the original novel, which more or less killed its appeal for those who cherish the original.

The plot, simply put (very simply!!) is this. Watchmen is about an watchmen_by_imladrisellethalternate/parallel world similar to ours but different in many others. In this world, US has won the Vietnam war but only because they had the help of the Watchmen (their predecessors, the Minutemen helped win WWII), a group of vigilantes who don't have special powers like typical superheroes (except one) but they still dress up as ones and help out with ‘saving the world’. They become unpopular however and are  disbanded. The story starts with one of them getting murdered by an unknown assailant. One of the Watchmen (Rorschach), who has refused to leave the ‘field’ decides to investigate…so the story and the movie begins…

Watchmen is as much a complex novel as V for Vendetta, if not more. The film-maker chose a simpler route to avoid the fate of V. TheyWatchmenSmiley simply copied the frames of the movie from the original. When I say copied, I literally mean a xerox. While watching the movie, I had a weird feeling that I was seeing the novel move in fast motion. Even the dialogues were the same. Which in a way killed it for me – I loved the original and seeing the same thing in front of me without any adaptation or original thought of any sort made the movie feel like a sham, made it feel like a rip-off. What made it worse that they still had to water it down significantly in order to make it comprehensible in the 3 odd hours it played (it was a long movie) – for example, the pirate  sub-story was gone…

Then I stepped back a bit. I realized that the novel cannot be made into watchmen_silk_spectre a movie and be pleasing to someone who loves the original. But for those who are not so close to the original or have not read it, it was more than above average. It has a great storyline, has fascinating characters, great camera and animation work and yes, superb music. I mean, when they played “Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel during the funeral of the Comedian, the movie took on a surreal air. And the opening song by Dylan as the movie is introduced fits the mood perfectly.

And yet, no matter what, you cannot relate to the characters, like you did in the original. Everyone remains just about distant…

So, if watchmen is something you haven't read, this movie is worth a watch, if only as a primer for the read. And if you have read the original, give this one a skip…

 

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Drama, English Movies

Gran Torino directed by Clint Eastwood

gran-torino1 You really have to wonder where these movies come from. Who would have thought that the cult western hero, the ‘Dirty Harry’, would turn out to be one of the most exciting directors who could churn out one masterpiece after another…

Gran Torino is supposed to be the last film that he would star in himself. So while you are watching it, take a good eyeful of the legend as he delivers a flawless performance…

Like his other movies, this movie too has its share of unlikely heroes. Heroes who are not heroes because they can shoot from the hip, but heroes because they rise a notch above the normal humdrum when needed…

Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a widowed Korean war veteran who is  bitter about almost everything – especially his family, clergy, his neighbours…and is also a cynical racist…

But life, as in all Eastwood’s movies, makes sure that nothing remains the same and no one remains how they seem to be…

Pretty soon, his life changes as the next-door girl befriends him, whosefilm_gran-torino brother had previously tried to steal Walt’s ‘Gran Torino’ as part of a gang initiation. He also slowly develops a fond relationship with the brother…

But life is never perfect, especially when everything seems to be going so well…The gang which had tried to initiate the brother, with its ego bruised now, begins to wreck the lives of Walt’s new found friends…

And how does Walt, the erstwhile legend of the wild west, counter this gang? You would be surprised. And that is where you are witness to the genius that is Eastwood…

In time, the climax would probably become of the most memorable scenes in the history of cinema…you realize that you have been holding your breath as Walt stands before the gang till the climax…

One thing about the movie that would not strike the viewer before seeing it and having heard the story is the humour. Walter has the dry cynical humour that you can absolutely associate with him. His grrr is absolutely outstanding. There is humour gran_torino_3in so many of the scenes but they never jar with the theme or the core of the movie. This humour is surely one of the things that makes this movie stand-out. It brings flesh and character to Walt. In fact, without the humour, the character would seem phoney…

And a review of this movie cannot finish without reviewing the way Eastwood looks in the movie. The wizened, cynical, gritty, tough guy who can take on street gangs but has private demons – this character was tailor made for Eastwood. He is a man whom you would turn for advice and surprisingly for his age, for brute strength. He has the look of a guy who has been toughened by what he has experienced in life and who battles his memories in private…and this look and his guttural voice is what carries the whole movie on its shoulder…the movie is made with one man in mind…

Watch this movie for well, everything…from the dialogues, the plot, the characters, the ending and yes, especially Eastwood…

A movie that would stay with you for a long time…and so will the song at the end of the movie…

And you would wonder…Slumdog won the Oscar over this???

 

 

 

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dear_wendy
Drama, English Movies

Dear Wendy directed by Thomas Vinterberg

 Come Vedere Dear Wendy Streaming Film Online GratisWell, this is one of the quirkiest movie I have seen in a long time…Even after watching it, you are still now sure what to make of it. So much so, you cant even decide whether it was a damn bad movie or it was a damn brilliant movie!!!

You are drawn into the world of the Dandies, a teenager group in a a small town that seems to consist of a single block (in a mock replica of a old western towns) who create a secret society in which the romance of the guns blossom. They are self-proclaimed losers who find secret strength from carrying guns (most of which are old-fashioned including a 19th century gun and a gun used in Al Alamein). They create a code where the guns are supposed to carried but not used (except in their hideout). And they all dress up in old fashioned clothes like flowing coats and top hats (hence the name Dandies)…

And Wendy – that's the name of the gun that started it all. The group names every gun in either masculine or feminine. And Wendy is the gun that the group leader owns and to which he devotes the narrative…

The plot seems silly but look a little longer, it seems intriguing…Sometimes it seems like some graphic novel turned movie. There is a sense of timelessness. There is also a sense of lack of purpose and yet a sense of urgency and importance.

When the killing starts, it almost seems surreal…and the part was dear-wendythe best of all…how it all turns macabre and unreal at the same time. You seem unnaturally glued to the scenes as they unfold…

This is a movie that everyone wont like…You got to stay with it without being ‘wierded’ out by it and then even after persistence, it wont make too much sense…don't worry…just soak in the story and you would feel that you have seen something quite different!!!

 

 

 

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Drama, English Movies, Satire

Igby Goes Down directed by Burr Steers

20070423064402191 If ever you wanted to see Holden Caufield on the screen, this movie is it…

Some purists feel horrified at the fact that someone has taken the classic and turned into a modern story. I, however, feel that art must renew itself periodically, otherwise it atrophies. Especially when the portrayal is as beautiful and sensitive as this one…

Igby (Keiran Culkin) inhabits a world where he sees hypocrisy and duplicity everywhere. He is close to his father who now lives in a mental asylum and he hates everything else…Its a world that is coming of age but is already repelled by what he sees is the result of coming of age…

The story follows Igby as he stumbles from one relation to another, all the while keeping his humour and sarcasm up while he is gettingigby goes down SPLASH scarred…and his sarcasm really makes you go splits most of the times!!!

The movie is populated by memorable characters, from his elder  brother Ollie (Ryan Phillippe), a manipulative smooth talker, Mimi (Susan Sarandon), their mother who is a complex book all by herself, Rachel (Amanda Peet), the vulnerable mistress of his godfather D.H. Banes (Jeff Goldblum), who in turn is the classical alpha-male and Sookie Sapperstein (Claire Danes), the hippie love interest, who in a fit of conformity betrays Igby.

08542-1 The acting by Culkin, however, to me, is nothing short of a masterpiece. It is his character and his acting that holds the fibre of the story together. He is someone who is sensitive and highly vulnerable but who hides it all behind a mask of sarcasm and callousness. The times when his vulnerability comes forth makes for some of the most memorable moments in the movie. His leave-taking was one of the most poignant parts of the movie, especially the scene with his father…

A quirky, sensitive movie about people who are branded outsiders, by themselves and by others. As I said, Holden Caulfield in modern day New York…

Watch this and you would take away memorable characters, great acting and a wonderful bittersweet feeling…

 

 

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Drama, English Movies

Seven Pounds directed by Gabriel Muccino

poster_seven_pounds This movie had come highly recommended from a friend, who told me that this was a movie that would affect me for days…

Sadly, by the middle of the movie, I was stifling yawns.

Its one of the movies that aims only for the heart while trying its hardest to bypass the mind. It puts forward scenes which would try to make you feel bittersweet and make you realize the pain and the anguish and the sacrifice of the characters.

I found it all pretty phoney…

A man looking for redemption becomes a self-styled messiah and a judge of ‘good vs. bad people’, searching for people whom he can help by either giving up his house or giving his organs. Specious and self-serving charity, if you ask me.

Not only do I have a problem with the character deciding to commit suicide and upping the melodrama instead of trying to redeem himself by living his rest of his life in doing what he wants to do, I also have a problem of him acting God – in deciding whom should be saved and who should be not. Will Smith as Moses…

I mean why should he get involved with someone whom he can help only by dying himself is beyond me. She falls in love with him and he does too. And then he dies so she may live. Why? So that he isWill_Smith_in_Seven_Pounds_Wallpaper_1_1280 remembered? Selfish wont you say? Phoney script and completely opposite to the character portrayal that is sought to be brought out.

If he really wanted to help, why cant he do so anonymously? What is it except selfishness and a vague sense of megalomania?

The only reason you can see this movie is due to acting of Smith, which is muted and introverted while still powerful. Its not his fault really that the script itself is faulty. Rosario Dawson also packs a powerhouse role. The rest are fringe characters anyway. Woody Harrelson is wasted…

In the end, its only a weepy tearjerker aiming for those who want an empty headed cry on a gloomy Sunday. Bah!

 

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the_fall_movie tarsem singh
Drama, English Movies

The Fall (2008) directed by Tarsem Singh

I had to write 2008 with the name of the movie because there are five movies of that name, starting from the 60’s…

the_fall_movie_poster The first thing that strikes you about the movie is the imagery and the colours used…even if you watch the movie on mute, you would enjoy the breathtaking play of colours and the incredible scenery – the film has been shot at some of the most visually appealing locations in the world. Each shot of the movie literally drips richness in colour…

The story? Its a story that is as much magical as it is real. Roy Walker is a stuntman nursing more than a physical hurt (which has seemingly left him paralyzed) and his only aim in life is to find a way to kill himself. Enter Alexandria, a young girl with a broken arm (from a fall, hence the name), who is one of the most endearing child artiste that I have seen. Roy starts to tell her a story, a story that becomes magical, with the tale incorporating pthe_fall_movieeople around them as superheroes and villains.

We gradually realize that Roy has another motive for telling the tales –  he wants her to get pills which he can use to kill himself. Accidents and deaths occur…But amidst all this, the story goes on…in the end, the story begins to reflect the real life emotions of the teller – love, betrayals, bravery…

There is nothing more that I can write more on the movie by way of the story. Its woven so beautifully with images and sounds that unless you are watching it, no words in black and white would make sense. The story and with it the movie makes sense when you are watching it. If its not a complete experience, its nothing…

the-fall This is a movie that can be seen as much as for the sheer artistry of the camera as for the wonderful story – a story that is at the end about surviving and triumphing against despair and the sheer power of tales. And watch it for Catinca Untaru who plays Alexandra.

I can promise you this – you wont come away unfeeling from this movie. You just cant ignore it…

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Drama, English Movies, Thriller

Zero day directed by Ben Coccio

Zero_Day_film Very similar to ‘Elephant’ in the manner of shooting the movie – in this case with the help of handheld cameras, Zero day is an eerie take on the Columbine High school massacre. The resemblance is made closer by the fact that the two gunmen even look similar to the original student-gunmen – Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris

When you read about the manner in which Dylan and Eric planned the attack – making video documentaries about their firearms, practicing shooting, making a farewell video etc, you find that this movie is faithful in its reproduction of the events. And it can be frightening in its detailing and in the complete dispassion of the two boys towards their actions.

Eric and Dylan filmlist.zeroday

Of course, movies made on this tragedy try to understand what the ‘reasons’ might have been, the reasons which compel two otherwise ‘fortunate’  students to undertake a cold-blooded massacre. Various reasons have been thrown up – from bully culture and social alienation to violent video games and music.

Where this movie stands out is clear portrayal of ‘no reason’. Andre and Cal (the Eric and Dylan of this movie) point out quite clearly that they just have to do it – to wake people up and to make a point against society, a society that they hate, a society that they would force to take notice of them.

A hate, that you realize, which has gone so deep that it has ceased to factor as a reason. All that is left is a blind lashing out at the world around them – a world they find to be unsuitable for them and which they have the ability to blow up – with easily available firearms.

The videos capture this zeroday3dichotomous world that Andre and Cal live in. Part of apparently happy family which take them out on picnics and give them gifts on birthdays and enough freedom to do what they want. Yet, right under everyone’s noses seethes this anger which after its explosion seems almost inexplicable.

Zero day does not do a psychological study of the possible causes but only mention them vaguely in passing. What it does do is show the outward signs – the double lives, the casualness about which Cal and Andre talk about deaths (including their own), the megalomaniac craving of their taking part in an earth shattering event, the rationalizations.

What you, the viewer is left with at the end is a sense of the utter photo_02_hiresalienation of the two, who despite all the dangers they represent, seem lost and vulnerable. You dont get the reason why (but then you are not  supposed to) but you do understand why Manson, in his interview to Michael Moore (in ‘Bowling for Columbine’) said, when asked what he would ask the two gunmen, replied “"I wouldn’t say a single word to them. I would listen to what they have to say, which is what no one did."

This is a movie that makes you think and leaves you with no answer but only with a sense of how lives are wasted simply because we choose not to look or wake up in time. Cal and Andre seem to tell us just that by their actions.

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