Posted by Vee

Facebook and Blogging took backseat, thanks to work. Phone calls and SMSes reduced but Books and Movies never lost their priority. Surprisingly, the number of movies I watched in last one month is almost double of what I watched in 2 months before that. And same goes for the books. I finished 4 books and started the 5th one 4 days back. IPL too was something which kept me away from the world. My favorites since the first edition of IPL (Delhi Daredevils) lost in semi-final, so I wasn't actually rooting for any particular team in finals. No, I am not amongst those who decide their favs based on the place they belong to or feel closer to. Bangalore played good cricket (in the later half of IPL-2) but they were(are) never in my top 3 list. However, I appreciate their game and the rise from nowhere to runner-ups and same goes for Deccans for showing the best of cricket and clinching the IPL-2 trophy.

Anyways, here goes short reviews of the movies I saw in last one month.

World Cinema: (English title in bracket)


Niwemang (Half Moon) - *** - Mamo, a musician after seven months of hard labor to get approval to perform in Iraqi Kurdistan leaves for the final concert of his life along with his sons (9 or 10 they were). Along the way, he picks up a female singer Hesho. As women are not allowed to sing in public, they all get in to trouble with the police. Niwemang (Half-Moon), a girl who is a huge fan of Mamo suddenly appears out of nowhere and helps them in reaching the concert place on time.


Cidade de Deus (City of God) - ****1/2 - If you run you're dead...if you stay, you're dead again. Period. That’s the tag line of the movie. It sums up the movie. One of the finest movies based on Mafia/Crime/Thriller, Cidade de Deus tells the story of a boy (Rocket from his point of view) as he gets entangled in the drugs, crime, and an ultimate rush to get away from it. A true story based in 60s and 70s of Brazil is a real cinema that would leave you with a lump in your throat.


Gegen die Wand (Head-On) - ***1/2 – Part German and part Turkish movie Gegen die Wand is a romantic drama. Cahit is not so happy with his life and after getting drunk at a club, rams his car purportedly into the wall. He survives but has a support around neck. At the hospital he sees a girl (Sibel) staring at her. As soon as he walks out, the girl approaches him and asks him to marry her. He is shocked at the proposal. Sibel explains her reasoning and they get married. Quite strange eh? Watch the movie to realize how amazingly psychedelic it gets. Directed by celebrated director Fatih Akin, Head-On or Gegen die Wand is a fresh story.

Im Juli (In July) - ****1/2 – After Gegen die Wand I wanted to watch other movies of Fatih Akin and got hold of Im Juli. The story is spanned across the first 8 days of the month of July.

Daniel is a school teacher in Hamburg. He is not planning to go out of city for summer vacation. Juli (a vendor) has crush on him but she is too shy to tell him that. She finds a way out. She sells him a ring with a Sun on it. She tells him that he soon will meet a girl who will carry a sun too and that girl will understand him the most. Daniel sees a girl (Melek) wearing a t-shirt with sun imprinted on it. He befriends her. Melek, its soon revealed is from Turkey and is heading to Istanbul to meet her boyfriend. Juli sees them both and is dejected and decides to leave city for vacation. Coincidentally Daniel who by now has decided to follow Melek to the Istanbul gives her a ride when he sees Juli at the road which goes out of city. A marvelous and unexpected journey filled with unusual circumstances begin and things go out of hand. They get separated only to meet at Istanbul by when Daniel has already met Melek and in a surprising way her boyfriend before meeting her. It is a lovely story and was released in 2000. The emphasis on year is because after watching this, I have no doubts that Imtiaz Ali was totally inspired by it to make his ‘Jab We Met’. I was of a mind that JWM was an original story but I do not think so now. Our makers, mashallah.

Vals Im Bashir (Waltz with Bashir) - **** - Nominated this year for Oscars in the Best Foreign Film category, Vals Im Bashir is the first animated movie to achieve that honor. Ari, a director once is reminded by his friend about the Lebanon War they both were part of. Ari has long forgotten the war and do not have a single memory of that war. He is not suffering from Amnesia, he knows. Yet, there is no memory of that war. He starts looking for friends who were with him then and gives a picture to what he is told. The movie is a poignant drain. An absolute moving film.


Les Quatre Cents Coups (400 Blows) - **** - Spoilt boy Antoine is a trouble maker and pain in ass for his parents and school teachers. Majorly misunderstood boy soon gets into minor crimes in the neighborhood. He spreads his wings of trivial crimes to the city (Paris). Paris is captured magnificently through the eyes of Antoine in this passionate drama.


Amores Perros (Love’s a Bitch) - ****1/2 – Three stories. Interconnected through a ghastly car accident. Motorcycle star Gael Garcia is in love with his brother’s wife and persuades her to run away with him. He gets his pet dog in a dog-fighting competition to make money so that he can run away with his beloved. A middle aged publisher abandons his family for the love of Spanish Supermodel. The model gets injured in the car accident which is caused by Gael Garcia. A homeless-moneyless ex-teacher who has a junk cart carrying stray dogs is the witness of this accident. There is much more to all this than said. I was absolutely overwhelmed with the great direction and brilliant performances by all.


Bin-Jip (3-Iron) - ***1/2 – The protagonist has a peculiar way of living. He looks out for the houses which are empty (probably on vacation et al) and gets into the house secretly to live till the family is back. While staying, he takes care of the house like his own, washing clothes etc. Once, he gets into house absolutely unaware of the fact that the abused and assaulted wife is still there. He goes on living and she secretly watches him. Once he realizes that their life changes. The movie has minimal dialogues and is majorly conveyed through actions and emotions.


Judgment at Nuremberg - **** - 3 years after World War – II, an American Court puts 4 Nazi Judges on trial for ill-doings during the Hitler’s regime. Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift come once again after ‘From Here To Eternity’ in this highly powerful movie. Clift has a cameo; however he goes onto win Nominations for the Best Supporting Actor at Oscars that year. The best part of the movie was the Actor Maximilian Schell (Won Best Actor-Oscar). A movie loaded with dominant performances and emotion.

In Bruges - *** - Nominated for the Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) at Golden Globes, In Bruges is a story of two hit men (Colin and Brendan) hired by Ralph to go to Bruges. Colin has a disturbing past of killing a young boy. The story thereafter follows their time spent in Bruges. Colin who got nominated for Best Actor at GG and ultimately won has moved from his eye-candy image and grown as an actor a la Di Caprio.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona - **1/2 - Woody Allen, The Moghul of sex-inclined movies comes with another tale of sexually-driven story of two female friends (Scarlett and Rebecca) who are on tour to Spain and their encounter with artiste couple (Penelope and Javier). Javier propositions Scarlett-Rebecca to accompany him for weekend to a distant city. Rebecca hesitates but Scarlett is totally smitten by him. They both eventually accompany and the trip and the return thereafter change everyone’s life including Javier’s wife Penelope.

Dot the I - ***1/2 - Another Gael Garcia’s movie. Natalia is engaged to James and on her Hen’s night (similar to Bachelor’s party), she is asked to participate in a tradition wherein she has to kiss a complete stranger. She kisses Gael who is sitting at the same restaurant. Soon, they fall in love and what ensues thereafter is an absolute treat for people who like thrillers with a pinch of drama and romance added.

Milk - **** - Everyone knows about Milk. Oscar winning movie about America’s first openly gay activist Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn who got Best Actor Oscar for this role) who gets elected to California office and his fight for gay rights is an intense and emotional film. The film captures Milk’s life from the day he turned 40 till the time he was killed by his colleague Dan White, who was a conservative.

All The King’s Men - ***1/2 – Sean Penn plays smart and cunning Willie Stark, elected governor who is up against the riches and upper classes. When upper classes (including an influential judge) get together to impeach him, he gets one of his subordinates, Jude Law (who is related to judge but rebelled to support Willie) to trace the life of the judge. Things get ugly during the course and it ends with a dreadful finale.

Left Luggage - ***1/2 – There have been umpteen movies based on Holocaust. Left Luggage is one of them. It tells the story of a holocaust survivor who had hidden the suitcases during WW-II and after the war is over he starts looking for his suitcases (luggage). His daughter Chaya is a party time baby-sitter-cum-nanny at a Jewish family. The head of the family is a conservative Jewish while Chaya is a free-spirited and liberal Jewish. Chaya is well accepted by the other family members (wife and 4 children) especially the youngest boy. The boy cannot speak though he is four years old. Chaya often takes him to the park near the lake and teaches him to speak. Everybody’s life turns upside down one fine morning. A heart-touching drama.

Platoon - **** - The infamous NAM war has been the favorites of many American directors. Platoon, the first in trilogy (followed by Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven & Earth) covering the Vietnam War by JFK director Oliver Stone is not just about men fighting the war. It is an emotional portrayal of a young recruit (Charlie Sheen) who is caught between the fight with enemies and the fight within his regiment.

Henry and June - *** - A true story. Acclaimed authors Henry Miller and Anais Nin had more than just mutual admiration for each other. June (Uma Thurman) who was married to Henry and supposedly had same-sex relation with Anais was an inspiration to both Henry and Anais. Henry and June literally lived off Anais and her husband Hugo’s money when in Paris. Anais gets into sexual relation with Henry while he is working on his novel (Tropic of Cancer; title suggested by Anais). Anais is intimated by June and shares a moment or two of intimacy with her.

Movies of Audrey Hepburn:

When it comes to Audrey, the only word that comes to my mind is enchanting. She is an absolute delight to watch. The first movie of hers that I saw was Breakfast at Tiffany’s and I was blown. Roman Holiday confirmed my confidence in her and I realized there can never be anyone like Audrey. That was last year. I wasn’t able to get hold of her other movies as my search continued. And this month I got to see three of her finest works.

Wait Until Dark - ***1/2 has her playing a blind girl who is left alone at apartment by her husband who has some work to attend to. Three men take advantage of the situation and enter the apartment in search of a doll who they believe her husband has hidden. Only these three men know that the doll has heroine stuffed inside it which her husband was given at the airport by a young woman who wanted to avoid giving it to one of these men present then at the airport. Woman puts it in Audrey’s husband’s hand and vanishes amongst the crowd. A crime thriller well directed.

Charade - ***1/2 – A startling chemistry between legends Cary Grant and Audrey in Charade will be remembered for ever. Audrey while in Paris discovers that her husband (never shown) is killed and has left a fortune which is missing. Many men enter her life suddenly to lay claim to the missing cash, including Cary Grant. She trusts only Cary but later finds out even he is fake and is behind the cash. The movie is full with some very interesting and witty dialogues between Cary and Audrey.

My Fair Lady - ***** - The best of the lot (these 3). Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) is an upper class snob, who thinks that he can make a flower girl (Audrey) who is crude, tom-boyish and unrefined into a proper lady and can pass her as one from roal family with hew teachings on phonetics, language and mannerisms. The musical has many fine moments. This is how a musical should be made I feel. Watch it for a totally different pleasure.

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