English Movies, Thriller

Anti-trust directed by Peter Howitt

antitrust The movie started well.

Ryan Phillips (Milo) is a software programmer who along with his very geeky friends dream of doing something on their own – being young and idealistic, they believe in everything open-source and a belief that knowledge is for all humankind and should of course be free

All that changes when Milo is given a personal offer by a CEO of a company which for all practical reasons is Microsoft by another name. Tim Robbins as Gary Winston not only looks eerily like Bill Gates but also walks and talks like him and pretty much espouses the similar principles. Milo sees dollar signs all over the sky and chooses the practical route to life.

This is about 15 mins of the movie…

As I said, the movie started well. Which is about 15 mins…

The next hour and a half or so of the movie descends into  an almost half-baked thriller, when Milo realizes that Gary has a secret side to him, which includes stealing data by acting as eye in the sky and even acting as a mafia boss in ordering executions. Finally Milo wins the118-antitrust-lg battle by making a video (which by the way was really terrible) and making it public and making Gary’s most expensive investment open-source.

The movie’s foundation is different – being technical, so the hero is more of the brainy hero rather than the brawny hero. But at the end of it, the movie makes a complete hash of it. The plot, the premise, the strategies, the final coup all seem semi-finished. The story seems to grip and then slips away the very next instant….

And the thinly veiled attack on Microsoft and its market policies makes it worse because it seems at times like the mouthpiece of the open-source movement, which, in my opinion is given a disservice by the makers of this movie…

A movie that can be seen if you have absolutely nothing else to do…


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.

English Movies, Thriller

The Score directed by Frank Oz

the_score_5 The main attraction of this movie for me was of course the pairing of two of the biggest heavyweights in Hollywood – Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro, incidentally the only movie in which they have acted together (except Godfather where they played the same character). The fact that Edward Norton would be there just sweetened the ingredient (in fact Norton agreed to act in the movie only because of the same reason – to act alongside Brando and De Niro together!!!)

The story is interesting – De Niro is an ageing safecracker and master burglar aiming for one big score to finish off his career. Brando is his main contact who ‘arranges’ everything and who is also a lifelong friend. Enter Norton with a plan to rob a national treasure of France whose fetching price would be enough to make everyone happy. So the ageing burglar and the upstart plan the burglary together – one to finish off the game and other to make a name for himself in the crime world. And so we enter a thrilling world of conspiracy and crime-planning with all its elements of suspense and sudden turn of events. At the end,  a double game plays out which turns everything on its head, until at the end everyone get what they deserve…

The story is nice in itself and the plot interesting. However you would have expected much more of this movie which boasted an explosivemarlon_brando_robert_de_niro_the_score_001 duo whose very name is enough to watch the movie. Sadly, the movie rarely rises above itself and Brando especially seems wasted in his role. You miss the mystique he exuded in his Godfather role, though its unfair to compare the two movie, but still that’s what you hope for…The finale though a twist was a tad clichéd and you do feel a sense of déjà vu.

But if you disregard high expectations and watch the movie just as a thriller, you wont be disappointed…it has enough to hold your attention, especially Norton’s menacing acting and De Niro’s suave handling of things..

English Movies, Thriller

Donnie Brasco directed by Mike Newell

donniebrasco One of the classics of the ‘mafia thriller’ genre and it lives upto its promise after all this time…I watched this movie and Sweeney Todd almost back to back and got a testimony to the acting range of Depp first hand. Al Pacino, well, is a master at the craft…

Depp as the undercover police agent infiltrating the mafia and eventually becoming a ‘part of them’ in many ways is sublime as he plays out his troubled conscience which is torn between the ‘real world’ of his family and his assumed identity as a Mafia insider where he feels a strong kinship with Lefty (Al Pacino), a man with whom he finds true comradeship, something that the ‘real world’  is unable to fill.

Pacino is the long timer in the mafia circle but who has been passed over again and again in favour of more dashing and ruthless younger1026909.C members of the gang. He feels strongly attached to Depp who he treats first as a protégé and increasingly as a son. The emotional and the vulnerable character that Pacino plays is very different from the usual portrayal of a ruthless and unconscionable mafia member and this multi-dimensional nature of his character makes him as and perhaps more real than the people on the right side of the law…

There are twists and turns in the movie as you would expect in a movie of this genre but the focus is on the upheavals in the relationships in the lives of the people on both sides of the fence and who are caught in the crossfire…and in that field, the movie excels…what the movie alsoimages excels in is showing the relativity of ‘good and bad’ in society. Depp perhaps finds more meaning in his assumed identity than otherwise. In Pacino, he finds a friend that he does not have, a friend he  is ‘dutybound’ to betray…

The end of the movie both from the perspective of Pacino and Depp is one of the best endings I have seen…Pacino resigning himself to the ‘rules’ that he has always played by and his poignant preparation for it and leaving his ‘fortune’ for the woman he loves is moving; Depp seeing the farce of the society that he supposedly protected at the risk of his life – his gaze at the end saying it all.


English Movies, Thriller

Inside Man directed by Spike Lee

insideman06 There are three things that set the tone for this incredible thriller about a very unusual bank robbery. The first is the words spoken by Dalton Russell (Clive Owen), the second is the song “Chaiya Chaiya” which is the opening soundtrack – the familiar song set in the New York setting gives off a strange feeling (though it also strangely fits in), the last is when the actor list rolls in – an immensely exciting delectable roster – Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe. And then you just get the feeling that this is going to be one hell of a movie, a feeling that is more than justified after the two and half hour of drama.

The story at first seems that of a high tech bank robbery but as the words at the start warn you, this is also very different from other such stories. Except a handful of people, the ‘robbery’ befuddles everyone. And the best part of this plot is that even though things start getting clearer as we move on in the story, the best part is left for the last.

Even though the end becomes a little preachy, the movie is fabulous  right from the first frame and never lets up even for a second. Every five minutes something happens that seems to twist the story or some new element is introduced that adds another dimension to the story. There are some some funny elements thrown in the middle – the tape of the Albanian president, a Sikh bemoaning racial stereotyping, all of whinsidemanich adds and does not distract from the action taking place. In fact these elements just keeps the movie from slipping into an all hands down action movie, which makes it even better. Another good part of the movie is that this portrays New York where even a person who knows Albanian lives – not the all white New York of Friends, which gives it a healthy essence of reality.

This is one of the best crime thriller movie I have seen in a long long time. The two and half hour just whizzed by. Great watch…

English Movies, Thriller

The Bankjob directed by Roger Donaldson

the_bank_job06 The first impression when you watch this movie is that it is an average bank robbery caper, especially after you have seen movies like ‘The Italian Job” and so on…and the movie takes a little more time than most to pick up pace and the twists come much late…and Jason Statham (of Transporter fame) seems wasted…

But wait…the story, incredible as the story line may seem, is true…the events in the movie mirror the Baker street robbery in 1971. And then you realize that truth is sometimes as strange as fiction and sometimes even more exciting and you also realize that Statham cannot be shown to fight just because he can!!!

The story is about how MI5 (or MI6, as one police officer commented – “I cannot tell the difference – they all go to the same tailor”), masterminded a robbery in Lloyds Bank to recover some incriminating photographs of a royal personage (supposedly Princess Margaret). But the robbers are of course not told the real reason why they are being ‘allowed’ to rob the bank.

The movie includes a variety of characters – a pseudo black leader (Michael X, not to be confused with Malcolm X), a smut king, compromised politicians and a bevy of corrupt cops. They all want what the robbers get in the vault. The robbers, of course, get to know the extent of the Pandora’s box they have opened up only after the act when their members start getting killed. And that is when the real action begins.

What follows is a series of a twists and turns and some positively nail-biting moments especially during the fag end of the robbery when their radio communication is intercepted by a radio ham operator.

The acting could have been better, the characters could have been given more teeth and the script could have made a more exciting atmosphere. Other than that, for the reason of its truth, this movie is worth more than a watch.

Drama, English Movies

The Machinist directed by Brad Anderson

machinist The first thing you notice is – bloody hell, is that Christian Bale?? The Batman looks as if he has just walked out of a concentration camp for superheroes. He is literally skeletal and looks splendid because he looks so awful. (He finished this movie a couple of months before Batman and he became the muscle ripping superhero in that period – one of the greatest achievements of physical transformation i have come across)…

And he plays the part to perfection – tormented and suffering from complete insomnia (claiming he hasn’t slept for a year) and suffering rapid weight loss (getting down to 119 pounds by the end of the movie). The reason for all this is revealed right at the end when everything in his life seems to rearrange themselves very differently than what they seemed when the movie began.

Trevor (Bale) seems a normal person except he is losing weight rapidly. He works a machinist in a workshop. Things seem to taking its course (except the unnatural weight loss) until the coming of a mysterious man – Ivan whose very presence starts changing Trevor’s life. Nothing remains the same after that. Things and people change form until Trevor thinks he is going insane. He is mysteriously stalked by Ivan and even when they get to talk,  things become even more confused for Trevor. He begins to see conspiracies everywhere and his life crumbles around him.

The story if of illusions, seeming murders, mysterious men with obscure intentions, people who don’t seem different from what they  are – until we realize that everything is the product of a tormented and deluded mind which has wrapped in itself to protect itself. Until we come to the awful truth.stickman

The lines at the end that Trevor speaks is the perfect ending to the movie (though the ending itself could have been much better) – “i just want to sleep”…at the end the living life seems to have become one big nightmare…

Its a great watch because it keeps you at the edge as there is a sense that something is going to give at anytime. And Trevor’s haunted look and his haunted body tells you that there is something terrible that is just beneath the surface that will come out.