Monday, 31 December 2012

My Top 10 Films of 2012, Somewhat

     Here it is, my annual incomplete list of favourite films belonging to that year. And what a wonderful tradition it is. Incomplete because I still have a number of 2012 films to watch before I make my final set of lists, that should come out in late January-early February, that is if the film gods are kind enough.


10.
Magic Mike

I had the stupidest grin on my face while watching this film. It is just so much fun! It's like a sports movie without the sports, and male stripping in its place. And it embraces my ideology of "Objectify All Men". Plus what a year Matthew McConaughey has had. In a just world, he will get an Oscar nomination for this role.


9.
Holy Motors

The film that has baffled me beyond belief. And I loved that! I usually hate films which I can't make the head or tail of, but this crazy, wonderful whatever, has some of the most brilliant scenes I have ever seen on film. And god, Denis Lavant is a genius!


8.
Your Sister's Sister

This film is like a lesson in good story-telling and acting. You don't need fancy sets or big budgets. This film is so sweet and funny and warm, and shows the importance of friendship and family. Lovely.


7.
Moonrise Kingdom

Oh to live in a place and a time like Moonrise Kingdom! Wes Anderson-land has never been dreamier and so full of wonder.


6.
Argo

Even though I haven't seen many films of the year, I doubt I will see one as well-made as Argo was. Ben Affleck has totally won me over with this tale of espionage and film-fantasy.


5.
Perks of Being a Wallflower

Because it is so relateable, despite not having a life at all like the characters in it. It's funny and poignant, and Ezra Miller and Logan Lerman are just beautiful. Great soundtrack too.


4.
Skyfall

I have not seen a prettier action movie in my life. Roger Deakins's work, along with a totally unexpected turn from Sam Mendes gives us what might be one of the greatest Bond movies of all time. And I love Daniel Craig, Judy Dench and Javier Bardem so much!


3.
Ruby Sparks

Going to quote a friend after she saw it on my suggestion- "Ruby Sparks is one of the most lovely films I've seen in sooooo long. I've not had this overwhelming feeling of satisfaction and depression at the same time, since I saw Amelie. Love is an understatement."


2.
Cloud Atlas

The most entertaining film I have seen all year. There's something for everyone- comedy, adventure, sci-fi, thriller, and of course romance. I will have to watch it again to make more sense of it, but all the stories and the people and the lives are interlinked so excellently. And love the cast with Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent and Hugo Weaving taking top spots.


1.
The Avengers

Seriously, it is so fucking awesome! The best "superhero" superhero film ever. It's funny and smart and the action is fantastic. And then there is the ensemble cast of superheroes, something I would have never thought possible until I saw this. Joss Whedon is the man and HULK SMASH!!!!!!!!


There you have it.

HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Thoughts

       The last thoughts post of this year folks! The world is still here, and 2013 (and impending 21-dom) is fast approaching. Here are some final 2012 musings-

1) So my last thoughts post was before the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes nominations were announced. If you don't know them yet, check out Stevee's Annual Awards Nerdism. All I'm going to say is that I wish The Perks of Being a Wallflower was getting awards attention. Happy about the Django Unchained and Skyfall love and I hate The Amazing Spider-Man with a burning passion. TV-wise, someone give Benedict Cumberbatch an award.

2) Generally, I wouldn't talk about this, but Kate Winslet got married to someone named Ned Rocknroll (I know, right?) and Leonardo DiCaprio gave her away. WHAT?! HAVE THEY NOT WATCHED TITANIC?! Ugh this sucks. I really think someone should tell Leo that the key to winning his Oscar is marrying Kate first. Please.

3) Posters and pictures- Side Effects has a really cool poster out, which captures the concept of the film well. The Place Beyond the Pines has a hilarious poster. I hate babies too, Ryan Gosling (and I lurve youuu). Even though I usually don't like character posters much, I am loving The Great Gatsby onesIsla Fisher's in particular is very gorgeous. And there is the first picture from The World's End, which is awesome 'cuz this film will be awesomeness itself!

4) Hello again, brilliant Tim Burton!

5) Trailers- Even though I love Guillermo Del Toro, I am not all that psyched about Pacific Rim except for the Idris Elba-presence. Hopefully the film will be much better than the trailer. Quite conversely, I am dying to watch Star Trek Into Darkness which has a proper trailer out. It has a darker tone and Mr. Cumberbatch looks especially faaaaiiinnneee. This Is The End has a truly hilarious trailer out, in spite of the pee bit at the end (Pee = not funny). "Michael Cera is dead" already made me laugh more than a lot of movies this year. The Great Gatsby has another trailer out. While I liked the earlier one better, this introduces the characters more. Also, I guess we will have Romeo+Juliet-esque modern soundtrack in this. The Place Beyond the Pines, which has wayyy too less Ryan Gosling, imo. Still it starts with this, so points for that. Pain and Gain looks like serious fun, so good for Michael Bay. And the final trailer of 2012, is a Bollywood one. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is a biopic about Milkha Singh and though the trailer isn't all that brilliant, I love the people involved.

6) How do you like the banner? 2012 favs.

7) Finally, how freaking awesome was the Doctor Who Christmas special? Okay not so much plot-wise, but I'm already loving Jenna Louise-Coleman as the impossible girl, Clara Oswin Oswald and her chemistry with Matt Smith. Speaking of whom-
Does anyone have the devil's number so that I can sell him my soul to make this happen to me?

See you next year people!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Happy Third Birthday to Being Norma Jeane!


Yaaay!

       When I started this blog three years ago today, I had no idea what I was doing. It wasn't a film blog, because I didn't know what a film blog was. My first post was about bridges or horizons or something like that, because you know, I was so deep and all. 

  • It was not until about a year later that I stumbled upon film blogs, one of my firsts being Stevee's wonderful Cinematic Paradox. Her age and taste in films never fails to amaze me. 
  • Ruth of Let's be splendid about this was another of me earliest blogging friends and followers.
  •  Then I joined the LAMB, and found myself in this fantastic world of filmlovers, people like me but much, much more knowledgeable.
  • When I think of the term 'film blogger', the first name that pops into my head is Ryan McNeil's. His site The Matinee has practically become a daily staple.
  • Anna's blog Defiant Success is my go-to site for classic films and she is my go-to person for lengthy Twitter discussions on attractive British actors.
  • Sati's site Cinematic Corner is awe-inducing with its gorgeous look and graphics, and her specially wry kind of writing is a lot of fun.
  • Aziza is one of the sweetest bloggers I know and her blog Aziza's Picks is growing so fast, it's great!
  • I honestly think Mette, who runs Lime Reviews and Strawberry Explosion, is kind of like Yoda- she is full of wisdom and poetic words, and also she loves Fight Club!
  • I get all my film and trailer news from Castor's site Anomalous Material.
  • Alex, who runs And So It Begins, is kind of an inspiration because he has watched every movie that I have heard of, and he makes movies! Plus, I love his In Character thingies.
  • Tyler of Southern Vision has watched every movie that I haven't heard of, and his is my go-to site for foreign films.
  • Josh's site The Cinematic Spectacle is really brilliant because he looks at the best in films, whether it is screenplay or cinematography, decade-wise and it is very informative.
  • SDG, or Shantanu, is a fellow-Indian blogger and his blog, U, Me and Films is quite excellent.
  • This may sound a bit self-centered, but my favourite commenter is Thaddeus. His blog Net-flixation is especially fun because of his weekly questions and all the odd-stuff he finds around the net.
  • Andy Buckle is one of the most prolific bloggers out there and his blog, The Film Emporium is superb.
  • Cherokee's blog Can You Dig It? is very hip and I love to read her thoughts on "the good, the bad, and the hilarious crap in between".
  •  M. Hufstader's The Smoking Pen is the badass-est blog around. Love her love for Quentin Tarantino!
  • Andrew has one of the best-written blogs that I have come across, Encore's World of Film and TV and it is always a joy to read it.
  • Squasher is a blogger I have started following recently and his blog Film Actually is really good.
  • Steve's task to finish the 1001 must-see films, as documented in his blog 1001Plus, just motivates me to watch more films, from everywhere and every era.
  • Sam's Duke and the Movies is one of my favourite blogs, especially for the Director vs Director and Name that Movie features. It will be closing down soon, but a new and hopefully even better Movie Mezzanine will come in its place.
  • Nick is however saying goodbye to blogging, and his fantasticly named Randon Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob will be missed. The hilarious Demented podcast will continue though, so that's a relief.
  • Finally Lesya, who though doesn't run her blog anymore, is still one of my favourite film-lovers (her guest post).

     I would just like to thank all of these incredible cinephiles, and all the others who I follow or follow me or talk to me on Twitter. I learn so much from all of you.


      To bring this post to a close, I give you my updated favourite 100-ish films. I hope to continue blogging as long as I can, and that is mostly due to the film blogging community and of course, the magic of films.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

My Favourite Directors

        Well my blog is almost three now and I am celebrating this milestone with various lists. In this, I look at 15 of my most favourite directors, since I am simply incapable of stopping at just 10. Even though I might have not seen all the films that they have made, these filmmakers are my role models and people I admire the most in this world. Cinema is a gift and no one makes me more thankful for it than the following visionaries-

15.
Tim Burton

In spite of the unfortunate choices Burton has been making of late, he was one of the first directors to make me crazy about films. His eccentric characters, dark humour, unique settings, but all with a romantic touch to it are usually a joy to watch. Not to mention he uses my favourite actor in everything ( that should stop for now though).
Favourite films- Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish, Ed Wood


14.
Steven Spielberg

One of the few Hollywood directors introduced to me through my dad, I was instantly swept away in Spielberg's close encounters with adorable yet heart-breaking aliens. And after that came the ultimate hero in the form of a daredevil archaeologist. I began thinking of him as the coolest action director, only to then stumble upon Schindler's List and be stunned. Very few directors can do equal justice to childlike wonder and the worst of humanity.
Favourite films- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Schindler's List, Close Encounters of the Third Kind


13.
John Hughes

I have had nothing resembling an American teenage, but I almost feel like I have because of Hughes's evergreen films (and yes, I know how depressing that sounds). No one understood young people like him. His films are as funny as they are perceptive and smart. Also, Kevin McCallister was every kid's role model.
Favourite films- The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Home Alone


12.
Martin Scorsese

It was very recently when I actually started watching Scorsese's films. I started with Taxi Driver, and needless to say, I was completely bowled over. A true devotee of cinema, most of the films that I have seen of his are violent and edgy, with troubled characters and a lot of Rolling Stones. Then of course, there is Hugo, which is one of the most beautiful love-letters to films I have ever seen and kind of helped me turn my life around, something I am very thankful to Scorsese for.
Favourite films- Taxi Driver, Hugo, The Aviator


11.
Pedro Almodóvar

When I first sat down to watch Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, it was more for that outrageous name than anything else. Instead, I got this hilarious, colourful, slightly crazy tale of wonderfully real women and I was instantly hooked on to Almodóvar. Every film I see of his turns out to be beyond anything I could have imagined. Complicated narratives that seamlessly mix melodrama and humour (in most cases), memorable characters and vibrant look have made him quite a favourite of mine, in spite of having watched only five of his films.
Favourite films- Talk to Her, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, The Skin I Live In.


10.
Alfred Hitchcock

The master of suspense himself. It is not only the terror and the thrill of his films that is so engaging, but also the exploration of the human psyche that he did better than anyone before or after him. His storyboard precision and complete domination over his work is more than inspiring.  His films can be darkly funny, romantic, tragic, horrific and exciting. The way he crafted his scenes has caused some of them to be imprinted in our minds forever, from a crop-cutter to the birds in a playground to an unbelievably passionate kiss to of course, a murder in a shower.
Favourite films- Psycho, Notorious, Rear Window


9.
Paul Thomas Anderson

I have seen five out of the six films that PTA has made and among them, I was indifferent towards one and hated another because of huge amphibians falling from the sky. Which leaves me with only three films and god, what mighty films they are in their own ways. He is prodigiously gifted in his craft. One of my favourite things about his films is how they have a momentum to them- they keep building up and they have the power to just leave you rapt. Added to that characters that have never been more broken, excellent single-takes, gorgeous cinematography and scores. Also, the existence of Boogie Nights never fails to baffle me- how did he do it?
Favourite films- Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, Punch-Drunk Love


8.
Billy Wilder

He possibly has the greatest range as a director that I have ever seen. I refused to believe that the man who made Some Like It Hot also made Double Indemnity. Same for The Apartment and Sunset Boulevard. His comedies and his noirs are equally fantastic and his characters unforgettable.
Favourite films- The Apartment, Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot


7.
Wes Anderson

It really speaks to me when a director puts effort into making his film completely his own, so much so that even a single shot of his movies can make the viewer figure out that it is that specific director's movie. Basically, auteurs are the shizz and Anderson is one such singularity in today's world of cinema. His use of colours and music, with efficient yet troubled characters in the centre of it all is a joy to watch, even though his films usually have a dark undercurrent to them. The Bill Murray presence is also appreciated.
Favourite films- Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox


6.
Edgar Wright

Now Wright has made only three films, but all of them are so full of awesomeness that I happen to love the shit out of him! He has a sort of Midas-like touch with which he takes over-used genres like zombie movie or buddy-cop movie or a video-game/graphic-novel inspired movie, and turns them into hilarious, smart, heroic tales about love and friendship and a girl with hair like this
Favorite films- Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Hot Fuzz (and The World's End 'cuz duh)


5.
Stanley Kubrick

Like in the case of Wes Anderson, a Kubrick film is always distinctly-Kubrick. The camera angles, settings, music, movie adaptations of questionable books, sometimes nudity are what makes them so Kubrick. But the reason why he gets a higher ranking is, well, balls. I think his films are ballsy and bold and he is completely unafraid to show futility of war or glorification of violence or a sci-fi adventure that shows human evolution or a dream-like odyssey of self-discovery and so on. There is nothing I love more than ambition, and all his films were extremely, ballsily, ambitious, which is magnificent.
Favourite films- A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 2001: A Space Odyssey


4.
Sofia Coppola

Yes I do realise that this list has a dearth of female directors, but if its any consolation, I happen to be in love with one. Ever since I saw The Virgin Suicides, Coppola's way of story-telling has enticed me. Her films are very feminine, with usually a beautiful and lonely girl at the centre. Still, it's not just flowers and clothes with her films, even though something like Marie Antoinette can make you believe that. Her later films all tackle with growing up around wealth and fame, and how lonely it makes a person. The atmosphere and lighting in her films, with a soft, lovely scores accompanying them, make her films uniquely dreamy and romantic.
Favourite films- Marie Antoinette, The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation


3.
David Fincher

The thing I love about Fincher is that he makes good, clean, practically perfect movies. While many of the other directors in this list are chosen for their particular quirks and trademarks, which Fincher has as well, he is here because of how well made his films are. Notorious for his incessant takes to get the perfect shot, it is evident from the end products why he does so. Probably because of his music video-director roots, Fincher's film are impeccably paced and his dark and gritty thrillers are a lot of fun to watch with their special brand of uncomfortably dry wit so (see: the Enya song in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when a man is about to be raped and killed).
Favourite films- Fight Club, The Social Network, Se7en


2.
Quentin Tarantino

I am tempted to write "BECAUSE HE IS AWESOME!!!!" and be done with it, but we all know it is more than just that. Tarantino lives and breathes films, and he uses this love for them to make an amalgam of the many, many, many things he has watched and give us his movies. His movies are gorgeously violent and incredibly funny, with some doomed romances on the side. His characters talk like no other, fight like no other and definitely dance like nothing I have ever seen before. The man even has his own filmography planned, which even though sounds nothing short of apocalyptic for us QT-worshippers, is infinitely cool because he is just that interested in movies, including those he makes himself.
Favourite films- Kill Bill Vol. 1, Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds


1.
Woody Allen

While Hugo in many ways helped me get my film-loving back on track, it was Woody's The Purple Rose of Cairo that made me first realise how much I loved and lived cinema. I owe whatever life I am going to have to this man. And it's not just because of Cairo, but almost every film that I have seen of his. Woody Allen's movies have a knack of curing me of whatever mood is ailing me at a point of time and making me feel calm and happy because I have watched something I loved, and also incredibly wistful because I could never make anything like that. Woody does dramedies better than anyone else, which my favourite genre. His films can be deadly funny and still have a lot of poignancy in them. I laugh, I cry, I feel inspired by all the cultural aspects of his films, and even frightened by the bleakness in his dramas. 

Woody makes his films because he makes his films, and there is no other reason to it. He tells a story and moves on to the next, and though that makes it harder to catch-up, it is something magical when I stumble upon a Woody film that I know I will love forever (which thankfully happens often enough). 

His muses are as legendary as they are beautiful and his love for New York is contagious, even though I have never been there myself. The use of music, of arts and culture, lately the beauty of European cities are some of the things that make his movies so special. In the end though, it is all about the stories and relationships that he can show so masterfully.
Favoruite films- The Purple Rose of Cairo, Interiors, Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen is my film god and my greatest wish is to meet him once and to thank him (and then break down crying etc.).

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

My Top 10 Female Performances

       Continuing the third anniversary celebrations of this blog, I list for your pleasure, my favourite female performances. They are in random order, save the last one who is my number one.


Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

From all the films with corsets and period settings, a character like Clementine would be the last thing one would expect Winslet to tackle. However, when she did, she ended up giving her best performance to date. Winslet completely transforms into this impulsive, free, complicated, lovely woman.
Favourite scene- Her (second) first meeting with Joel in the train.



Marion Cotillard in La Vie en rose

I usually have a soft spot for biopics. I like it when famous actors become someone else. However in the case of Cotillard's Edith Piaf, it was quite the opposite because I had no idea who she was and was shocked to see how different (and utterly gorgeous) she was in real life. This just goes to show her total immersion into this character in all the stages of her adult life. 
Favourite scene- Singing on the stage of the music hall for the first time.


Isabelle Huppert in The Piano Teacher

One of the most powerful and silent performances that I have ever seen. This film's soul lies in the face of Huppert, which just tells everything without really changing. Because Erika Kahut is not a woman who speaks loudly of her desires.
Favourite scene- When Walter plays Schubert in his auditions and the camera focuses on her face and we just know that by the end of the piece, she is a woman in love.


Natalie Portman in Leon: The Professional

Possibly my favourite performance by a child actor. Portman's Mathilda is a troubled child and that's what leads her to form a very strong and unconventional bond with an assassin. She is like a grown-up trapped in a child's body- so worldly and bold.
Favourite scene- Mathilda impersonates many famous personalities for Leon.


Nicole Kidman in To Die For

It is a gargantuan task to get a role like Suzanne Stone and not make a complete caricature of it. Kidman makes someone as beautifully ugly as Stone real. She is hilarious and repulsive at the same time. It's awesome.
Favourite scene- Every time Suzanne talks to her "audience".



Cate Blanchett in I'm Not There

Unlike Cotillard, I was very much aware of who Cate Blanchett and Bob Dylan were, and it seemed ridiculous that a stunner like Blanchett could ever play a man. However once Jude Quinn makes his appearance, all such thoughts disappear, just how Blanchett disappears into this version of Dylan, arguably his most well-recognised. The mannerisms, the way she talks and sings- it is all freaking fantastic!
Favourite scene- Mr. Jones interviews Jude.



Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves

This wasn't even supposed to be her role, but once Watson comes onscreen as Beth, you can't even fathom anyone else in her place. You almost start to feel that this is her in real- no one can be a character like Beth just like that. The balance between the childlike innocence mixed with all the incredibly courageous things that her character does is plain remarkable.
Favourite scene- Her last conversation with God, in the movie.



Juliette Binoche in Three Colours: Blue

I can only imagine the pain Binoche's character goes through when she loses all her family at one go. She becomes completely empty and emotionless, or atleast she tries to. But life has other plans. To see Binoche tackling such a conflicting reality is a joy indeed. She is magnificent in this.
Favourite scene- Discovering a nest of new-born mice in her wardrobe.


Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire

It is particularly tragic to think that someone like Leigh played Blanche DuBois, but then who else could have? Even Elia Kazan, in spite of all their differences, said that she had "the greatest determination to excel of any actress I've known. She'd have crawled over broken glass if she thought it would help her performance."
Favourite scene- "I have always depended upon the kindness of others."


And my favourite female performance is-
Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns

I kind of have a tendency to idealise crazy, bold, weird, awesome women in films and I think it all started when I first saw Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. After being shown as a loser in her office and by extension her whole life, Kyle's personality goes a drastic change after the first of her nine lives is taken by her boss. Then we see this outrageous, black leather-loving goddess of mayhem come out.
Pfeiffer's Catwoman is as sexy as she is forlorn. Out to take her revenge in the world of men, she falls for the greatest protector of them all. Even at her most deranged and dangerous, Pfeiffer manages to make Catwoman someone tragic and lost. I think of her more as an anti-hero than a villain because she is just trying to make right everything wrong done to her.
Favourite scene- The transformation of Selina Kyle into Catwoman. Break all the doll houses!