Thursday 26 May 2011


Just a few random thoughts:

1) Remember just a week back I did an overexcited post on X-Men: First Class? Well, I am much less excited now because it seems that Mathew Vaughn or Marvel Comics or whoever it is in charge of advertising the film has lost their marbles. I mean the whole film is practically out in little video clips on Youtube... or atleast all the fun action bits are. I don't understand, why would they do that? And not just X-Men, but also Hangover 2, Kung Fu Panda 2 etc. I have only been watching the X-Men stuff so that I don't feel cheated out of my movie-going experience for the rest as well (also because of my less enthusiasm for them). Just now I saw that this year's Palme d'Or-winning Tree of Life also has clips out, except that sort-of makes sense because of the type of film it is and the demographic it appeals to. It definitely is not a film that can be understood in a few clips, and it won't be watched by everyone and that actually makes it a clever advertising strategy. But it's a very rare exception.

2) I was reading this Q&A post at Anomalous Material and the comments made me feel a bit...well bad, that people really don't like Bollywood. This is a surprising thing for me because I am constantly ridiculed for my preference of' "those English films", but as of late I have come to watch quite a bit of foreign cinema and it seems absurd to me that I would not stand up for my own country's very iconic movie industry. There are some great films in there, but as I discussed with my father once (the only really sensible movie-related conversation I've really had with the man), most of it has been condensed into the same action-romance bullshit that became famous in the late 70s. Add to that the incessant copying of Hollywood films and ideas, while adjusting it to the rigid mores of the Indian society, and you end up with a lot of tripe. Nowadays a new trend of "modern" films have emerged, in which everything has a dance number shot in Dubai, and there is a lot of talk about sex and homosexuality, but in the end it is all treated as a joke.
But in all of this garbage, some great films have been made by filmmakers who dare to do different things, or do things differently...

3) Which brings me to my third and final thought, or rather question- should I do a Bollywood Film Marathon??  I have planned numerous marathons in the past which never came through- the Harry Potter one which got too tiring (but most probably will be done still, you never know), the Winona Ryder one after watching Black Swan which I couldn't do because of the impending exams, the Disney Princess one leading upto the Royal Wedding but I didn't have a laptop to watch them, and ofcourse my Woody Allen one, which I've literally been planning for ages and was gonna do soon but I can't seem to locate some of his earlier works. 
So Bollywood anyone? I will obviously have to find some of the films from places because the television shows the afore-mentioned tripe 99.99% of the time... but I do have a nice list in mind for someone who was practically born in an Indian cinema theatre(my mum's words, not mine)  because I have been watching Bollywood films since I was very very small. This might be a total hit-and-miss thing, and my gargantuan self-esteem might not be able to take it, but I have been feeling very patriotic lately.

4) Also also read this absolutely wonderful post by Stevee at Cinematic Paradox, if you haven't already. It talks about horses and films!

Soooooo... these were some of my thoughts... how about yours?

Wednesday 25 May 2011

15 Movie Questions Meme

So there is a 15 Movie Questions Meme that has been started by Anna from Defiant Success. It's very interesting, and got me thinking. Here's what I came up with:

1) Movie you love with a passion.
The Harry Potter Series- Is it any surprise? I owe my life to these films... I would've never fallen in love with films if it wasn't for them. Not because they are the greatest films ever, but because they fill my life with magic and wonder.

2) Movie you vow to never watch.
The Last Song- It's a film based on a Nicholas Sparks book starring Miley Cyrus. Give me all the Twilights and all the Biebers, but save me from this worst kind of sapfest.

3) Movie that literally left you speechless.
Pan's Labyrinth- Maybe it's because I was crying, but I could not find words to describe the emotions going through me when this ended. It was happiness, and sadness, and amazement, and just the beauty of Long, Long Time Ago wafting over me. I understand what those folks at Cannes felt.

4) Movie you always recommend.
Fight Club- Just to see the change in the person, that is bound to come after seeing this.

5) Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie.
Johnny Depp- Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. He has me quoting Humbert Humbert for crying out loud!

6) Actor/actress you don't get the appeal for.

Russell Crowe- I just can't stand him for some reason. I think he's my anti-Depp. Yes he's a good actor blah blah blah... but I sort of really hate him.

7) Actor/actress, living or dead, you'd love to meet.
Woody Allen- I cheated! Well most of the people I want to meet are directors, but Woody acts too! I think it would be just so intellectually stimulating to meet him, even though he may think of me as an ignorant fool.
On the flipside, I would never want to meet Ryan Gosling, because I'll embarrass myself silly around him. He is just so sexy and has a very weird grip on me, I'm telling you...

8) Sexiest actor/actress you've seen.
Ryan Gosling- See above.

9) Dream Cast.
Streep, Depp, Blanchett, Garfield, Dunst, Tucci, Ronan and Radcliffe- Okay I know it's rather big, but I have actually thought of a weird story with all of them. I mean we have royalty, under-appreciated actors and the up-and-coming ones.
Maybe Tarantino can do something...a girl can dream, right?

10) Favourite actor pairing.
Richard Gere and Julia Roberts- I really though Kate and Leo will take this, but I love them more off-screen. But the way Gere and Roberts electrify the screen, it's quite something else.

11) Favorite movie setting.

Paris, France- I guess this would be a common thing. Audrey Hepburn said it was always a good idea, and from the New Wave to Moulin Rouge!, An American to Pink Panther, we all love the city of love. And we'll always have it.

12) Favourite decade for movies.
Sixties- Without any doubt. 'Twas a magical time. I still wish I lived then.

13) Chick flick or action movie?
Action movie- The success rates of both nowadays is low, but with the improved special effects, most action movies deliver enough.

14) Hero, villain or anti-hero?

Anti-heroes- Yes I love them, I love them, I love them! How many times more? I FUCKING LOVE ANTI-HEORES!!

15) Black and white or color?
Black and White- It reminds me of a quote from a book, about a character reminiscing the past:
"In those days, thought Mr. Fisher, we dreamed in colour, though films were in black and white, good always triumphed in the end, and only Americans spoke American."
In other words, there is something very right about black and white (that rhymed!).

Hope it was fun reading it as much as I had fun answering them.

Monday 23 May 2011

“I’d like to grow up and be beautiful. I know it doesn’t matter, but it doesn’t hurt.” ~Kirsten Dunst

So I've been a fan of Kirsten Dunst for a very long time. Many of my friends don't like her for that wretched Mary Jane Watson role, but they barely look past it. I think the first film of hers that I saw was the fantasy-film Jumanji. She was so sweet in it, a typical older sister, who had because of the game been released into this world of surprising horrors and insane jungle-stuff. Prior to Jumanji, she had been in a few other films, most notably Interview with the Vampire and Little Women. Both adaptations of famous books; in the first she played Claudia- a young vampire who lives with fellow-vampires Lestat and Louis, played by Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt respectively. It was a very interesting role, certainly a predecessor to the young vampires we see everywhere now. I remember feeling very bad for her, never being able to grow up along with growing old, along with that strange relationship she had with both men. I though she was particularly powerful because she did demand my attentions in her scenes more than her much more accomplished co-stars. She played the younger Amy in Little Women, who is my least favourite March sister, but she was absolutely adorable in the role. From her nose-worries, to being a total brat, to having that very special relationship with Laurie (a very young Christian Bale).

I think Kiki was the quintessential teen-star, something that many of her successors have tried to be, but unfortunately failed. I think it's her blonde locks, and joyful face and sweet voice. This worked behind many of her late 90s-early 2000 films like Strike, Bring it On, Drop Dead Gorgous and The Virgin Suicides. The first two are much lighter roles like the cheerleader Torrance in Bring it On. She's funny and preppy and just plain contagious. I mean how can one not know all the cheers by rote, right? The latter two are much darker roles. I think as Amber Atkins in Drop Dead Gorgeous, she perfected the bright-eyed, beautiful, smart teenager-look that a teen-film like this needs as its protagonist. In all the craziness of the film, her character remains the only sane one. Now Virgin Suicides, which was done much before these, is one of her darkest roles to date. She played one of the younger Lisbon sisters, whose lives are doomed as shown by the title of the film itself. She's the main one, without doubt, just the kind of beauty that all the boys in the film are after... with darker undertones. 

After all of these, she did her most famous role to date- Mary Jane Watson, the love-interest of Peter Parker and his alter ego Spiderman. She was not that annoying in the first one, but as the films kept coming, the more and more I found myself hating this character. Infact, it's number 2 on my most annoying film-characters list, preceded by Bella Swan and followed by Frodo Baggins. While it did what she wanted it to do for her career, that is make her well-known all over the world, it did become one of the most stereotypical damsel-in-distress roles ever.

In between, she tried to let go of her teenage image by choosing more adult, or rather young adult roles. She was there in Michel Gondry-Charlie Kaufman modern classic- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Her character Mary was this naive girl who is infatuated with her much older employer. he starred in the ensemble female-drama Mona Lisa Smile, a film set in the early 50s, which questioned the role of women in society then. She played a very traditionalist, headstrong character Betty, who is found often sparring with her free-minded teacher, played by Julia Roberts. While it's one of her least-likeable roles, she does adopt the look of a Stepford-ish housewife really well. She was also there in romantic films like Elizabethtown and Wimbledon, the latter being a particular favourite of mine. I liked her relationships with her heroes in these films- Orlando Bloom in the first and one very fit Paul Bettany in the second. 

After these came Marie Antoinette, which is the last film that I've seen of her, save Spiderman 3. I've written time and again about how much I love this film, and how much I love her in it. She got back together with her Virgin Suicides-director, Sofia Coppola and made one of the most unique period films ever. She's just transplendent in it. She looks uncommonly beautiful- a sort of decadence with the freshness of youth, and ofcourse those marvelous clothes and jewelery and hair. She plays the ill-fated monarch from her blooming early teens till her death in her twenties, which is a major part of any girl's life. In that time she has to get her prince to impregnate her, get love from her country, get respect from her mother, and have lots and lots of fun (and candy =P). Of course things do not go that way, and Kiki in the end is just so impactful, that atleast I felt like saving her.

Now the reason why I am writing this whole ode to Kirsten Dunst is because she has won the Best Actress award in Cannes for her upcoming film Melancholia! I am so happy that she is going to finally get the critical appreciation that she has worked so long to get. I thought that this looked bleak after the ban put on it's director Lars Von Trier, for his "Pro-Nazi" comments, but she did it. I will definitely be watching this film, which looks very intriguing from the trailer, and for her ofcourse. She also will be playing Camille in Walter Salles's adaptation of Beat-epic On The Road. I just can't wait!


Sunday 22 May 2011

New Reviews- POC4, Thor, Hanna

       So apparently the world was supposed to end yesterday...and I had this review in mind for a very appropriate film, i.e. Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men. But it seems my laziness is way past apocalyptic urgency. Still seeing that Harold Camping has been very wrong, and "the real end of the world" is still 19 months away, I do have the opportunity to post my review! Soon that is...

         For now, I think it's makes sense to write about the new Pirates film, which follows At World's End (see what I did there?!) And also the other two recent releases I saw- Thor and Hanna. Here it goes:

1) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides- This film for me picked up where the Curse of the Black Pearl left off. I mean I love Johnny Depp and I love Captain Jack Sparrow but Dead Man's Chest and At World's End were a bit of a mess, especially the latter. It had gotten too confusing, I admit. So I was little skeptical about On Stranger Tides...but it delivers beautifully. In this one, we see Capt. Jack, Barbossa, and Gibbs are on the search for the treasured Fountain of Youth, along with Jack's ex-flame Angelica (Penelope Cruz), the dreaded pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), the British, the Spaniards, etc. 

         There's a lot of swashbuckling involved, along with mermaids and obviously Capt. Jack escape-specials. The story was much more simpler, focussed on a few things and the logic behind all that was clear. The witty dialogues were there, with good action scenes, and a great chemistry between Depp and Cruz (unlike that which he had with a certain Miss Jolie), all of which fueled the film. There was the "new" Will and Elizabeth in the form of a clergyman Phillip and a very Brooke Shield-y mermaid Syrena. They were okay, only mildly annoying but no where near the heights of super-painfulness that Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley achieved. They were played by Sam Claflin (who will forever now be known as "Cheekbones") and Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey. Though I missed the grand Black Pearl and the gorgeous locations throughout most of the film, this Rob Marshall piece looked fine enough, with the scary-looking Queen Anne's Revenge and the darker atmosphere. My favourite things were the cameos- from the truly enchanting Gemma Ward as a vicious mermaid, to Capt. Jack's father and inspiration Capt. Teague played by the legendary Keith Richards, to the always grand Richard Griffiths and one very special royal dame whose completely unexpected appearance made me squeal with joy!

           All I can say was that this was a decent effort, and I am very glad for the focus being brought back to the man who started it all and is the very soul of the franchise- Mr. Johnny Depp. I mean every expression, every move, everything he says is brilliance! I will always love the hero that Capt. Jack is and his tenacity towards life. Though he is a rogue and often dishonest, he is often more right than anyone else ever. I have started to, mildly, feel bad about how predictable Mr. Depp's unpredictable career choices have become, but I guess if he continues to perform the way he does (save The Tourist!), I will still be very proud to be his number one fan. I mean I was watching Secret Window this very morning, and there's a jiffy towards the end when he makes this freaky mouth movement, and it makes soooo much sense in context with the film. These tiny details, that Capt. Jack is full of and Depp can perform perfectly, almost unconsciously, is what makes him...them great.

           Favourite Scene- The beautiful mermaids attacking Blackbeard's crew. Reminded me of the all-jazzed-up ladies from another Rob Marshall feature.

           Rating- 9 out of 10- for a relatively simple and exciting action adventure, one which caused the cinema hall where I was watching to repeatedly clap out loud (very enjoyable experience I must say). The place where it lacked was to show off the fabulous Penelope Cruz more, along with leaving certain loose ends. And Capt. Jack rules ofcourse.

2) Thor- It was fun. I had very less expectations for it, not understanding how in the world could Kenneth Branagh direct an action flick. The tale is about the Thor, the Norse God of Thunder, the son of Odin who is the ruler of Asgard...who in his childish and brawnish recklessness decides to provoke the Frost Giants, inhabitants of Jotunheim, who have been in a very volatile truce with Asgard. As a punishment Odin strips him of his powers and exiles him to Earth, where who should he find but Natalie Portman, or rather scientist Jane Foster and her skeptical team. At the same time, in Asgard, Odin has fallen sick and the throne is passed on to his younger son, the mischievous Loki. Along with Thor, his legendary weapon Mjolnir has also been sent to Earth, where only he who is can possess it and Thor's powers. And who should be after it but Agent Coulson from S.H.I.E.L.D. (something which I remembered only after the film had ended- sorry Ironman 2 didn't really leave an impact on me). That's about the premise of the story. 

          Chris Hemsworth plays the banished Norse God/Superhero. My god he is biiiiiiig. He was good, having the over-confident look about him that a spoilt and proud prince is expected to have. He handled the action scenes well, and it was believable when he threw his hammer around. Honestly the only person I really liked was Tom Hiddleston, who played Loki. Now everyone knows about my affinity towards villains, especially super-villains, and this was no different. I liked his character, the things he did and the reasons behind them. Hiddleston plays's him with the subtlety I always imagined a character like Loki to have. I was totally rooting for him.

         There are other people too- Odin is played by god of all gods- Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jane played by the absolutely stunning Portman ofcourse, her assistant Darcy was played by the always delightful Kat Dennings, her mentor Erik was the nice and supporting Stellan Skarsgard; Clark Gegg reprised his role as Agent Coulson. They were all fine, but I think completely unnecessary. Everyone was pretty much unnecessary. But the action sequences were good, and Asgard was very cool-looking. I thought that the coming of Thor on Earth could have been shown better, it all seemed too easy for a God being able to adapt amongst humans. And the action sequence with the Destroyer was terrible... it made no sense to me at all.

            Favourite scene- The first time Thor and his friends go to Jotunheim to fight the Frost Giants. Thor's superior fighting skills, done with utmost ease, along with the fighting styles of all his friends is shown properly here.

            Rating- 7 out of 10- for a proper beginning of the much-awaited superheroes season (no I don't count Green Hornett...or Green Lantern for that matter, but more on that later). The action sequences were cool, the super-villain was just perfect, and there was enough going on to keep the film from slowing down. On the downside, almost everyone was a prop, and the possibilities of Thor's exile were not exploited properly.

3) Hanna- Slick, cool, gorgeous. I've always admired Joe Wright's films visually, and this one does not disappoint. Ofcourse this is very different from his previous enterprises, but just as fruitful (I haven't seen The Soloist though). Hanna starts in the Arctic Circle, where we meet Erik and his daughter Hanna, who have been training all her life for a special cause. And that is to kill CIA agent Marissa Wiegler. When Hanna thinks she is ready, Erik goes into hiding and Hanna is brought to Marissa. But the devious Wiegler is suspicious about this innocent-looking young girl and sends in another woman, and she watches in horror and amazement as Hanna turns into this adept and ruthless killer who kills her double and escapes unscathed. Out in the real world for the first time, Hanna must find her father, the truth about her own self, the cause of her enmity with Wiegler and what it is to be normal.

         Hanna is played by the very alluring and devastatingly talented Saoirse Ronan, Erik by the cavalier and awesome Eric Bana and Wiegler by the sublime (Queen) Cate Blachett. Very much like Atonement, Ronan truly shines the most in this film. She has a German accent throughout, speaks many languages, is focussed and ruthless, yet full of wonder. Something like electricity amazes her more than I think anything can amaze me. I loved how childish she was, but still deadly enough to scare many grown-ups. She meets a travelling English family and befriends their daughter Sophie, who is about the same age as her. The contrast between them is both amusing and upsetting. Hanna's innocence- sexually and generally, reminds me of a Mean Girls quote, "I love her. She's like a Martian!" I bet Sophie thinks this...especially when both of her go on an outing with two boys. Jessica Bardem played her and she was very funny. 

         Bana and Blanchett were very good too. I do love it when she plays the baddie (one of the few saving graces of the slightly absurd Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), and Hanna did in many ways found her match in her. Except that's where the film also lacks for me because I do not understand why noone else cares about finding her. Her secret is a big one, and the fact that only Wiegler knew about it and the government particularly didn't do anything when a lethal, albeit tiny assassin kills people in their premises. I also thought the big reveal and climactic fight was too short, and well anti-climactic. As said earlier, the look of the film was fantastic, with the Arctic wilderness, the Moroccan and Spanish backdrop and the supercool CIA safehouse. The Chemical Brothers provided the music and it worked beautifully in the action sequences.

        Favourite scene- The escape from the Moroccan safehouse. The music, the lights, the action, Saoirse's eyes... pure cinematic magic. I was jumping up and down my seat, I do not kid you. 

        Rating- 9.5 out of 10- An almost perfect thriller. Stellar performance from Saoirse Ronan and the supporting cast was very good as well. Girl Power!!! The ending could have been better, and that was the only flaw. A superb effort by director and co-writer Joe Wright!

Random observation- I think if few elements of Hanna and Thor were interchanged- more of the real world in Thor and more of action in Hanna, they would've been considerably better.

        So I hope people watch these films... The Hangover 2 is out next week and I have seen the very desperately anticipated X Men: First Class. I do wish they are very good as well. What about you??

Friday 20 May 2011

"You see once in a while, I suddenly find myself... dancing."

         Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing in the film Top Hat reminds me of a quote from a very, very different film-
"Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. It was like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now. As I slooshied, I knew such lovely pictures!" And not just slooshied, but viddied as well. Yes I know my Nadsat lingo real horrorshow.

        In the film Astaire's character Jerry Travers is an American professional dancer whose shows in London are being produced by a Horace Hardwick. While staying at a hotel, Jerry does a rather loud tap dancing routine which wakes up Roger's character Dale Tremont who is sleeping just a floor below him. Angered at this disturbance, she goes to confront him. Both of them meet and sparks fly immediately. But due to some confusion, Dale starts to believe that he is infact Horace, who is the husband of her friend Madge and is disgusted at his infidelity. They all end up in Venice, along with Horace's valet Bates and Dale's designer Alberto Beddini and the mix-up continues to expand. Through various situations and a couple of Astaire-Rogers magical dance numbers, everything clears up and this screwball comedy of errors has a very happy ending.

          The film is directed by Mark Sandrich and written by Allan Scott and Dwight Taylor. I had a little problem with the story... I thought everything happened too fast. I guess I believe in love at first sight only in Disney movies, but very rarely otherwise. And being of a "I Don't Need a Man to Make It Happen"-feminist ideology, I felt bad when Dale "marries" Beddini. Ofcourse it made sense in the comical way in the end, and I applaud the writers for that. Then little one-liners here and there make the film very enjoyable, especially those with Madge and Horace. I liked the way it portrayed the upper class and their absurd habits, whether it's the pin-dropping silence in the London Thackeray Club where if a pin did drop, it would probably cause a scene, or the acceptance of a spouse's infidelty with pride and joy practically.

         This is a very famous film, and I think I've always known about it. But the first time I remember being distinctly aware of it was at the bittersweet ending of Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo. Astaire and Rogers dance Cheek to Cheek, and the whole world seems to melt. They were great leads and I have unfortunately not seen any other films of theirs, even though I have spent hours on Youtube watching their various dance numbers. Fred Astaire is a funny-looking guy, but his smile is absolutely infectious and I liked how he was cavalier throughout the film, even at times when other actors might have looked desperate. Ginger Rogers is absolutely beautiful, but she too has a quirky look about her that makes her all the more engaging. There is no doubt why these two are such famous Hollywood onscreen sweethearts, they seem to belong with each other- in dance and just plain conversing. And boy can they dance and sing!

          The other cast members were very good also. I particularly loved the Hardwicks, played by Edward Everett Horton and Helen Broderick. I think that were it not for the dance numbers, they would've stolen the show from Astaire and Rogers. They were hilarious, Horace with all his little blunders and foolhardy and Madge with her sardonic acceptance of Horace's cheating habits. Bates played by Eric Blore was funny too; his way of talking about himself in plural reminded me of Gollum a lot. Now it might be my fault, but Beddini seemed very gay to me and I was surprised when he proposes to Gale. But I suppose that because for so many years when a similar character has been portrayed onscreen who has always been gay, it led me to believe that and if I had seen the film when it first came out, I wouldn't have thought otherwise.

        Now I must talk about the music. The divine Irving Berlin provided the music for this film. I think Top Hat is one of the most famous musical numbers there is, and with good reason. It's so upbeat and catchy and smooth that one cannot help but fall in love with it. I loved Cheek to Cheek and the Piccolino too. The dancing was choreographed by Astaire and Hermes Pan. It was absolutely splendiferous obviously, and just makes me want to tap dance too. So very bad.

        The clothes were gorgeous, especially those of Rogers. I, for one, loved the ostrich feather-ed dress and the way it moved when she danced with Astaire. Bernard Newman was the stylist for the film. Carroll Clark was the art-director of the film. I loved the sets, especially the stage during Top Hat and all of Venice, which just seemed like a gigantic ballroom floor made for Astaire and Rogers to dance so prettily around. I officially want the Big White Set to make a comeback now.

         All in all, it was one thoroughly enjoyable film, a solid reminder of the screwball comedy-musical days of Hollywood. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are Hollywood legends and noone can ever ever replace them. Do watch! 

Thursday 19 May 2011

Before they were BEAST, BANSHEE, MYSTIQUE and HAVOC....

My god this looks good. I have such a thing for Nicholas Hoult and James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender that this film might (hopefully) be the death of me.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

So in an hour, my all-deciding, all-surpassing, all-important results come out. And this is exactly how I feel right now.

I can't remember other films...but yes I am very very scared.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

"Now, what we got here is a little game of show and tell. You don't wanna show me nothing but you're telling me everything." ~ True Romance

        Great scene... yet another Quentin Tarantino-Christopher Walken gem. This was a fun film. How QT manages to write this kind of well, magical stuff is what amazes me the most about the man-genius. I loved the romantic aspects of this film as much as I loved the violence, and the supporting cast iss to die for. Also Patricia Arquette has such a dreamy voice, doesn't she?? And I kind of miss Christian Slater. He does have 10 films-in-production, according to IMDb though, so I guess we haven't seen the last of him yet. 

        You know what I would like? Have everyone in this film to work together again. Ouie?!

        Fun Trivia- The dopey director Lee Donowitz, played by Saul Rubinek, is the son of the Bear Jew from Inglorious Basterds. Something tells me he wouldn't have been so proud.

Saturday 7 May 2011

"You know what your problem is, it's that you haven't seen enough movies- all of life's riddles are answered in movies." ~A LIFE IN MOVIES BLOGATHON

There is a new blogathon going on, spurred on by Fandango Groovers Movie Blog in which we choose our favourite film from every year since the year we were born. I found it quite interesting and decided to do it, but it was rather difficult to choose because of two things- my favourite and what I think of as the best in a particular year differed on a few occasions, and also that I have never been able to choose a favourite film for anything. The latter was was especially terrible because I felt so guilty for leaving out the other shortlisted films in every year, and choose the one I chose. But for the fun of it and what I think now, here are my favourite films since 1992 (missed Silence of the Lambs by that much)

1992- Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
This one was difficult, but as much as I love Aaron Sorkin, I just love John Hughes more. Add to that possibly the cutest child actor ever, with one heck of a character and two mental villains...this film was just brilliant.

1993- Sleepless in Seattle
I must say that I love this film more that the original itself. It has this kind of magic, and belief in possibilities that only films can provide us with. Sweet, funny and oh so romantic. And ofcourse I love the leads.

1994- The Shawshank Redemption
This was one of the bad years- from Forrest Gump to Pulp Fiction to Four Weddings to Natural Born Killers, but I had to choose Shawshank. This film is at the top of the IMDb 250 list, and with good reason. The way this film makes me feel, so hopeful and right and happy, very few others can.

1995- To Die For
Another great year, especially with Kevin Spacey (Se7en, The Usual Suspects), but something about Gus Van Sant's To Die For makes me choose it instead. I can never say no to a black comedy, and Nicole Kidman's Suzanne Stone was irresistible. People went nuts for her- her clean-cut housewife image with a blind ambition and something deadly inside...wonderful- no wonder it was selected as one of Premiere Magazine's greatest performances of all time. 

1996- Trainspotting
My personal favourite Danny Boyle movie! It's crazy, it's funny, it's trippy as hell. Also one of the best beginnings EVER.

1997- Titanic
I don't care what this makes me. I will forever love this film and love both of them (especially Jack). The only film which can still make me cry like a baby despite having seen it like a hundred times.

1998- Rushmore
I love this film...I really do. My favourite Wes Anderson film by a mile, and Jason Schwartzman is just so adorable and relate-able as Max Fischer. Also having Bill Murray is a huge bonus.

1999- Fight Club
There was a lot this year- American Beauty, Being John Malkovich, The Virgin Suicides, but this film...what can I say about David Fincher's Fight Club? About Tyler Durden and the gang?? Changed my life forever... that's all.

2000- Almost Famous
This film just makes me soo happy. Another great music-related film came out this very year- The John Cusack-starrer High Fidelity (And American Psycho too - Hip to be Square!)...but I think the feel of Almost Famous, the time, the ideas is much more close to the heart. 

2001- Moulin Rouge!
The year of the franchises- from Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings to Ocean's Eleven. But as a favourite film, Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! has always been the one closest to my heart. The Bohemian ideals, the songs and pop-culture references, the look, the feel and obviously the two leads- Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman enchanted me in this film so very thoroughly that I fell in love with them forever.

2002- Igby Goes Down
My go-to film for when I think my life cannot get any worse. Then I see Igby Slocumb's life, his uber-dysfunctional family and I feel happy. Feel good anyone?!

2003- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
The film that launched a legend. Capt. Jack Sparrow is and will always be one of the greatest film characters ever, and being fueled by Johnny Depp only makes him so much more brilliant. The best film of the series by far, my god even Will and Elizabeth were tolerable in it.

2004- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
My second favorite film in the series, but still pretty awesome. This was the year of things like Mean Girls and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but I think with Alfonso Cuaron's darker direction and the addition of cast members like Gary Oldman and Emma Thompson (and the best Harry Potter hairstyle ever), HP3 was better than the rest. This was also the first Harry Potter film I saw in the theatre.

2005- Memoirs of a Geisha
The summative beauty of early 20th century-Japan, the kimonos, the make-up, the dancing, and ofcourse some of the most stunning Asian women ever makes this film one of the most enthralling to watch.

2006- Pan's Labyrinth
One of the most mesmerising films I have seen, this film with it's characters and visuals and music settles inside a part of your heart forever. The poignant beauty of it all, one which makes us happy and sad both at the same time is incredible. Also one of the best World War- related films according to me.

2007- Ghost I'm kidding- Ratatouille
My favourite animated film (well one of them anyways). The concept just blows my mind...a rat who wants to cook. I mean they really do have the most creative minds working in Pixar, don't they? This film has everything- the city of love, good food, comedy, the underdog-story, romance and most importantly a lot of heart. Transplendent I tell you...just transplendent!

2008- The Dark Knight
My favourite Christopher Nolan film. This is an action thriller at its very best and along with that, it has some of the most remarkable characters ever to grace the silver screen. The most notable ofcourse is the late Heath Ledger's electrifying portrayal of The Joker.

2009- (500) Days of Summer
This film brought romcoms back...with a bang and a twist. The closest thing to Annie Hall in years, it has it's own brand of innocence and cuteness and heartbreak. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt just melts my heart.

2010- The Social Network
Did anyone possibly think I could choose anything else?! I love this film to bits...more that sanity allows.

Year I come.

"I am a false prophet! God is a superstition!"

          It is the beginning of the 20th century and Daniel Plainview is a silver prospector who while working in a mine strikes oil. He starts an oil drilling company, in which while working one of his co-workers accidentally dies. He then adopts the man's infant son and names him H.W.  Almost a decade later, we see the Plainviews are richer and their business is in full swing. It is then that a young man named Paul Sunday comes to them with information about oil under his property in a town called Little Boston, California. Daniel and H.W venture there and find out that Paul had been true to his word. Daniel decides to buy the Sunday farm and it's owner, Paukl's father is more than happy to do so. Except then Paul's twin brother Eli, who is the pastor of the Church of Third Revelation there, asks for more money to fund the church. The deal is made at the former price and along with the Sunday estate, Daniel buys all the available land in the area, save that belonging to a certain Mr. Bandy.
           Oil drilling begins in full swing but for the two accidents in the beginning, a man dies during extraction and then an explosion in the mine causes H.W. to lose his hearing completely. Around this time an unspoken feud starts between Daniel and Eli which continues till the rest of their lives. Also a stranger name Henry appears at the Plainviews' footstep claiming to be Daniel's half-brother. He takes him in and starts showing him the ropes but H.W., on reading his diary, finds some discrepancies and tries to kill him by setting him on fire to protect him and his father. The fire is stopped in time and Daniel, angered by H.W.'s act, sends him away to San Fransisco. While rival firm Standard Oil tries to buy him out, Daniel decides to go with Union Oil instead, which requires him to build a pipeline to the Californian coast, but it can only be done by striking a deal with Bandy as it has to run through it. It is at this time when Daniel finds out that Henry is not really his half-brother but rather a friend of him. He had died and by reading his diary he had gathered information about him, and had decided to come to Daniel for company and a comfortable living. Enraged, Daniel shoots him in a drunken stupor and then buries his body.
             In the morning, Bandy confronts him and says that he will only sell Daniel his land if he joins the church and washes away his sins. This gives Eli a chance to take revenge for a previous fight between Daniel and him, and he humiliates him while washing him in the blood of the Christ, making him repeat that he is a sinner and has abandoned his child, a painful memory that stays with him forever. Still his oil work is soon well on the way, and H.W also returns with a sign-language specialist, Eli goes away for missionary work and all seems well.
             Then the story forwards to 1927 when H.W. marries his childhood sweetheart Mary, Eli's sister. He comes to Daniel, now a rich and powerful man, to say through his interpreter, that he is moving to Mexico with Mary to start a company of his own. Daniel flies off the handle at this, screaming at H.W. for various things- starting from the fact that he now becomes a competitor, to the interpreter being there, till he finally reveals to him that he was an orphan he adopted to make his appearance look better to clients. Angered, H.W. leaves. It is after that, when he is lying in his very wooden, very polished bowling room, drunk, that Eli return to him. At first he tells him that he has a radio show and is doing very well, and wants to sell the Bandi farm to him as he had died. In return, Daniel asks him to make two statements- "I am a false prophet. God is a superstition."
           Now despite having said the whole plot, I will not reveal the ending. Just know that there will be blood.

           After watching P.T. Anderson's Magnolia and hearing all about how brilliant his There Will Be Blood is, I had to see it too. So I did...and I agree with the common is one fantastic, eerie, lovely film.

         The story is loosely based on Upton Sinclair's novel Oil! and was written for screen by Anderson himself. It is a story about greed, religious fanaticism, rise of capitalism...but in the end it is the story of one man- Daniel Plainview. I have written once before, give me a flawed hero and I'll give you a devoted Nikhat. And Daniel was much so that to see any redeeming qualities was nearly impossible. But I don't think so... I see a man who raised another man's son with a lot of love, but because he hated others more, it was masked by it. I think he was an excellent businessman. He was so lonely that he chose to accept a stranger, Henry, in his life- remember he had earlier threatened Paul about investigating him if his information regarding the oil was false, and he didn't attempt to do so with Henry. But of course there were blaring flaws- this man is the modern man...a man of the 20th century, which brought with it progress and industry, but also environmental degradation, religious cynicism and an insatiable greed. A common saying that money is the root cause of all evil is truly explored in this film. Daniel becomes a sinner because of his avarice, and not the blood of Christ but rather from a source much more sinister proves to be his salvation- "I'm finished," he says in the end. The hatred that had grown in him, little by little, over so many years, seeing the worst in people- in his own words, so much that he thinks that every one else also sees him in the same way. Magnolia started with the song "One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do" by Three Dog Night. Those people were lonely, but none as much as Daniel Plainview.

           To say that Daniel Day-Lewis is an outstanding actor is an understatement. Originally British, he adopted this American-western accent expertly. I've read in other reviews about how it's like John Huston's accent- I have never seen any of his films so I cannot say. For me it was very unique- gruff yet eloquent. The first time we hear it was 14 minutes after the title card gad been shown, and it stood out immediately. I had originally not wanted to see the film because Johnny Depp had lost the Oscar to him, and being the completely mad fan I was back then, I was very pissed off. I'm still a mad fan but I do know that Sweeney Todd wasn't the greatest of films or Depp's performances, and Day-Lewis was the rightful winner. The ambition, the wrath, the greed, the pain, the loneliness, and the hatred- everything is as clear as the day on his face. Yes Daniel Plainview was never a man to expose his feelings, but Daniel Day-Lewis is. It was glorious to see him on practically every shot of the film.

            The other person ofcourse is Paul Dano who played both Paul and Eli Sunday... and god he has such an interesting face. Ebert described it as pudding-faced, but I really don't know what that means. The first time we see him at work- in his little church, he looked to me like a total rockstar, "My dear Mrs. Hunter... dance with me... dance with me." But he is just so menacing. A debauched man, who uses the blind faith of others to get what he wants- attention, revenge, money. I think I would have found it harder to side with Daniel were it not for the absolutely unattractive character of Eli Sunday. And Dano did such a great job. He was vicious with such a smile on his face that The Joker would have felt scared. H.W. who was played by Dillon Freasier reminded me so much of Stanley from Magnolia. Both were these meek kids, used to amuse adults, who eventually stand up to their fathers. He was especially good after the explosion scene as we, along with him, understand the horror of what has happened to him. Kevin J. O'Connor, who played Henry, too was good, but I couldn't help keep remembering him as Beny Gabor from The Mummy. They were both liars, weren't they?

         Now I never knew that this was a film where visuals played any role. As said earlier about my anger towards it because of Depp, I had never so much as seen a trailer of it. I only knew vaguely about it. So you can understand what a surprise it was too see these stunning graphics. The wide deserted lands, the oil drills, the smoke from the train and obviously from the explosion filling the horizon. Robert Elswit won the Oscar for his cinematography and like Day-Lewis it was very well-deserved. Another thing was the music. It was odd, but so very apt, like I cannot fathom the film with any changes made in it. My favourite scene in the film is that of the explosion, and the run that Daniel makes with the traumatized H.W. The sound of the bursting oil slowly tones down, along with the screams of all the other men. Then comes this weird music which sounds like it is being made from all these different instruments and all these different surfaces and all these different sources and when H.W. reveals that he cannot hear his own voice, it shows that it's all these different things which he will never be able to hear again. The sound editing was very good too. There were always things being built and everything could be heard distinctly.

          I haven't really gotten my head around what I think of P.T. Anderson as a director. He is very good ofcourse, even a fool could say that. But Magnolia and There Will Be Blood were very different. Speaking of the latter alone, I really like the way that he used both the man and the surroundings. He got a breath-taking performance out of the already fabulous Day-Lewis, but also a creepy and intense performance out of the "silent" Paul Dano. The film is of a Western-ish genre, but so much more dramatic and believable. I really like the flow of it...there is a continuity, but the film only seems to grow from the beginning to the end. Throughout the film I felt that something greater is going to come next. It is suspenseful, but for what I am yet to fully grasp- maybe to see Daniel's final success, or to see what he does with himself, or to see where his greed took him, or if he let go of all the hatred, or maybe just to see whether there is blood, but I really was biting my nails (metaphorically) till the end. And what an ending... "I'm finished," he says.

        This film gave me a lot to think are some random musings that resulted from there:

Random Observation which May or May Not have any Basis- Now I have heard a lot about how this film is alot like the great Citizen Kane; it is- in a grittier, less fashionable way. I had also personally thought that The Social Network was like Citizen Kane, Zuckerberg's Facebook being Kane's Xanadu. This ofcourse made me compare There Will Be Blood with The Social Network. They are similar, aren't they. Just character-wise- the lonely Daniel is like Mark, the betrayed H.W. is like Eduardo, hell both films have twins! And ofcourse the treacherous Henry is like Sean. There were barely any women in the former...someone failed the Bechdel Test bad (!), but I don't think it mattered all that much. And though The Social Network didn't end with any blood, it is Fincher and one can dream.

Random Dream regarding Paul Dano- Don't you just dream of a film where there can be actors like Paul Dano, Emile Hirsch, Patrick Gugit, Kieran Culkin etc. all together? Like a big under-appreciated kick-ass actors film with a lovely kooky story. And the director...not the Coen Brothers because I'm a little sick of them but maybe someone like Jim Jarmusch...and Bill Murray can be like the patriarch and we can throw in Steve Buscemi somewhere. Yes? No?

          Anyways, I will say again that There Will Be Blood is a cinematic jewel and Daniel Day-Lewis' performance is as good as they come. And as it was recommended to me, I must recommend it to anyone who loves good cinema and hasn't seen it yet.