Monday 31 October 2011


            HALLOWEEN- yet another festival I have never celebrated due to geographical problems! But one can dream right? If I could, this year I would dress up like the Eleventh Doctor- bow tie, braces, floppy hair... everything. And I've always wanted to look like Charlie Chaplin à la The Tramp. But alas, this will not happen for atleast the next few years.
           However, if I cannot put on a costume, I will do the next best thing. Sit on my laptop and make a Favourite Horror Movies list. Yippee! OOOOOOH (that's supposed to sound scary). I am not a big fan of the genre (more like scaredy cats laugh at me), but I do watch horror movies from time to time. I tried watching Dawn of the Dead yesterday but the internet went nuts and it just seemed sort of illogical to waste time watching something that was clearly causing me distress.

Note: I am only going to talk about universally accepted scary films. So as much as I love them, there is no Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland in this, and neither will there be things like Antichrist (that's just plain disturbing), Nosferatu (great film, doesn't really send chills down my spine sorry) or The Silence of the Lambs (I prefer to think of it as a psychological thriller).

Honourable mentions: It will sound ridiculous, but I was actually terrified of Megan Fox in Jennifer's Body the first time I saw it. Even with all the "maneater" jokes, I couldn't sleep at night and was convinced she's perched outside my window *shudders*. And as a kid, Chucky, the doll from Child's Play was the scariest fucking thing ever. Obviously with age, I could see the humour in it all, but try telling Mini-Me that. Also, I just saw 28 Days Later and it has not made the total impact on me yet. I thought it was quite good, but then I didn't like the second-half as much as the first.

10) Poltergeist-
This scene comes out of nowhere. Always manages to take me aback. I think the biggest asset of this film was the child actor Heather O'Rourke, whose angelic face and singing bird-like voice, especially when she says the very famous line "They're here" that both scares people and make them want to save this poor little girl.

9) Scream-
Ghostface has become one of the most recognisable villains of the last two decades, because of this film. I suppose the basic plot is the same- group of teenagers being killed in gory fashion by some scary-looking murderer, but it re-invented the slasher genre very effectively.

8) The Sixth Sense-
I am a person who knew of the big secret at the end before watching the film, but it shocked me still. This film, with Haley Joel Osment's prodigious performance, is always entertaining to watch as well as touching to see a little kid so affected by all the death in the world.

7) The Blair Witch Project-
The most amazing film this film does, and why it is so popular, is that we never actually see what it is haunting the three documentary film makers. It is all about the sounds and the shivers and the strange things found that creates the fear in our head. So while they were getting more and more frightened, so were we.

6) Rosemary's Baby-
This Roman Polanki's classic makes one feel breathless and claustrophobic in my opinion, just like its protagonist Rosemary Woodhouse, played by the divine Mia Farrow, when she finds out that everyone is after her and her baby. It also makes one distrustful of one's neighbours because if Ruth Wilson turns out to be a Satanist then well... The ending is the best part.

5) The Others-
Such a film will not exist were it not for the "demonic child" movies of the 70s. Nicole Kidman is great as the concerned and possibly mad mother. I love this film as everything is the opposite of what you think and the final reveal is easily among my most favourite movie twists of all time.

4) Carrie-
One thing this film always makes me think is that if you felt that you had an awful puberty, imagine being Carrie White. Margaret White is easily one of the worst and most horrifying mothers of the silver screen. Of course Carrie turned out the way she did. It doesn't mean she deserved it though. Sissy Spacek as the eponymous protagonist is someone I feel bad for because she had to grow up with her psycho-religious-fanatic mother and mean girls from high school, and well telekinetic powers. In my opinion the prom scene is one of the best scenes ever made.

3) The Shining-
Inspired by events in a real-life hotel, this Stanley Kubrick masterpiece based on a Stephen King novel is as iconic as they come. The whole motif of a hotel from hell and strange things in different rooms has become a cliché ever since, but it is still most potent here. Everyone in this film-  the naturally crazy-looking Jack Nicholson, spaced-out horrified Shelley Duvall and cute creepy kid with quite an imaginary friend Danny Lloyd, is perfect. Add to that the Kubrick precision and hallways being flooded with blood...ah Christmas!

2) Psycho-
Surprised this wasn't in any of the horror films lists I have seen so far. I think this film is so popular and so a part of people's psychology, that we never really look back to see trivial things like what genre it belongs to. Technically this Hitchcock spectacular gave birth to the slasher films genre, thanks to Mrs. Bates. It is so beautifully made, this film, and Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates is such a pathetic little villain, that I don't know, I always feel bad for him. But he does go a little mad sometimes, which results in some of the most beloved murder scenes in all of film history.

1) The Exorcist-
Yes I am the cliché of all clichés, but this film really is that good. And the first time I saw it, I actually did the whole sitting in the dark alone thing, which is not nice. At all. I love that this film is not a lesson in religious dogmas and stuff and the fact that even the priests don't believe in the possession until the very end. Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil and Ellen Burstyn as her mother Chris are excellent in this film. I know everyone just credits the make-up department for Blair's work, but god I would never ever ever want to look like that. This is a film that truly scares us, and makes us think that if a bad spirit can do such horrific things to someone as innocent as Regan, who knows how we will survive it? 


Saturday 29 October 2011


I'm so sorry I'm late. I was packing, then travelling, and then I was tired from travelling, hence could not make this post in time. Thoughts:

1) James Cameron really is re-releasing Titanic in 3D. I had been hoping this was a far-fethched rumour, like the one about Titanic 2 in which Jack comes back as he really was not dead but preserved in an iceberg à la Captain America, but nooo. Cameron is a greedy greedy man. Approximately 4 billion dollars is not enough, is it? This will be horrible. If it fails to look good, it will ruin people's memories of this wonderful film (I love it okay, you L.A. Confidential people must calm down). If it succeeds, can you imagine the tears?! Oh my god. I mean, why? Why? WHYYYY??!!

2) Hailee Steinfeld is apparently going to play Juliet Capulet. Twice. The first one, as previously announced, is in the actual story where she is Juliet, Burberry model Douglas Booth is Romeo and Ed Westwick is Tybalt (excellent choice, in my opinion). In the second one, she's been offered the role of the heroine again but logically should not accept it. It is a retelling of the story from the viewpoint of Romeo's ex (bahahaa!) Rosaline. Romeo will be played by James Franco's younger brother Dave Franco, whose existence I was not aware of until quite recently, and Rosaline will be played by Deborrah Ann Woll, who is fantastic and gorgeous and plays one of my top 3 True Blood characters (see banner for another favourite) Jessica Hamby. I don't know, or rather care about the other two, but Woll will be a brilliant choice.

3) Bollywood Bitching of the Week/Month/insert time period here: I saw Shahrukh Khan starrer Ra.One this week. Oh the agony! Anyone who reads this blog and remotely cares about Bollywood films, read this review as the author feels exactly the same way I do. I do really respect the ambition, but the fact is that the film was as painful as they come. I can only explain it by first shedding a bit of light on the Bollywood blockbuster trend that is going on for the last couple of years: Salman Khan, who is another of the big Khans of Bollywood, made a film called Dabaang, which was this totally cheesy, action, silly-yet-awesome one-liners-packed bonanza, like the B-grade films of 70s and I thought it was a pretty unique film and actually did enjoy it. But ever since then, all the films are trying to copy its style. Or the South-Indian style, which has these sudden close-ups and just inane slapstick comedy, but that only works for the South-Indian films. There's Rajnikanth there, who, well to explain it to non-Indians- Chuck Norris is the American Rajnikanth, but less cooler. It is fun watching those films, but it is irritating watching every other film made in the same stupid fashion. I honestly thought that SRK would not follow this fad, but yeah, he did. And it sucks. Also, the director Anubhav Sinha may well be called the current Michael Bay of Indian Cinema.

4) Trailers: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol has a nice-ish trailer out. I totally forgot that this film is releasing this year. We see a bit of Anil Kapoor there, so go India! And it has shots of Dubai, which is my almost-land (I lived in the city next to it, Sharjah, but my school was in Dubai). Woo hoo! Angelina Jolie's directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey has released a trailer. I think it looks pretty impressive. It is about war and love during the war, and despite the over-used formula, it doesn't look sappy or depressing so much. A new Dr. Seuss animated film The Lorax has its trailer out. It is happy, as one expects from a film based on Dr. Seuss stories. I love that it has Betty White. Since I bitched so much about SRK and Bollywood films in this post, it is only fair to show the trailer of his next film Don 2, which was the best part of watching Ra.One. You can see the influence of films like Mission Impossible there, but believe me this is a great trailer (the sound is a bit off, but this was the only one I could find with English subtitles). The first one was a pretty awesome film and I really hope they manage to do it again. I am a huge SRK fan, and he really shows his King-of-Bollywood status in this trailer.

5) By the way, do you think I should make Bollywood trailers a regular feature too? I myself don't watch that many trailers anymore, so I promise to put the ones of the films which I am actually looking forward to.

6) I don't know why I find this funny, but I do. I think I live for the day when Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost complete their Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy/ Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy.
So scared.

I promise I will be on time next week. Bye.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

The Magic Ticket

I saw this over at Anomalous Material and found it very interesting. If I was to receive a magic ticket that could transport me to any film that I wished, which ones would I choose? 
The Questions and the Answers are as follows:

What animated feature would you love to walk around in?
Well obviously, it is a fairytale land they live in. There are ogres and talking donkeys and cats in boots and gingerbread men and prince charmings and fairy godmothers... what's not to love?

If you were a cop who would you want as your partner?
Nicholas Angel (Hot Fuzz)
I was going to put Jackie Chan, but then I realised he wasn't a character. Anyways, there is no one as bad-ass or efficient or funny as Inspector Angel here. He can solve a crime and catch a swan, and I won't have to do a thing.

What character would you most like to be sat next to on a plane?
Jesse (Before Sunrise)
Okay so I am cheating a bit with this, but seriously who travels in trains anymore? I have always wanted to meet someone like him and just you know, hit off and have the most perfect conversations of all time with. Maybe there would be a poet sitting in front of us also. Ugh, this film...

What character would you most want to enjoy a passionate romance with?
Jack Dawson (Titanic)
He was my first love, when I was 5. And I have never really truly recovered. Obviously I didn't know the meaning of passionate romance then. Has there ever been anyone more perfect, onscreen or off?

What movie gadget would you love to try out (or steal)?
The DeLorean from Back to the Future
Uh duh. What can possibly be cooler? Besides I have always wanted to time travel.

What film’s plot would you alter and how would you do it?
The Stepford Wives (2004)
This question was a tough nut to crack. How do you change something about a film's plot without changing everything else? I'm going to go with The Stepford Wives, which an almost guilty pleasure of mine, because I always think the film is going fine until the end when they totally mess up the plot and start assuming the the robots are people. Just fix that and I won't feel so terrible for liking this movie.

What one film would you most want to be transported into, simply to be a part of that world?
Any of the Harry Potter films
The most unsurprising of all answers here. One of my most precious childhood dreams is to live in this magical world of spells and goblins and Quidditch, and it will always stay with me. I will use my magical ticket for this first. *Priorities sorted*

Go on now. Use your magical ticket.

Monday 24 October 2011

Mini Reviews- Y Tu Mamá También, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Sex, Lies, and Videotape

       First, a note: I have sort of been on a movie-watching high and it's been really difficult to write any reviews because as soon as I finish one film and am thinking about reviewing it, I put on the another film and lose the chain of thought associated with the first one. So for now I'll be doing mini-reviews of films, and I'll probably do them in groups of 3s. They will have some theme running through them, according to my perception, instead of just putting them in random order or chronologically. Also, I am just going to keep doing these mini reviews until some day I decide to write a proper one for a single film, and then maybe I'll write more of these short ones. Let's see.

Y Tu Mamá También (Dir: Alfonso Cuarón, 2001)

Basic Plot- A very steamy coming-of-age tale about two reckless young friends, Julio and Tenoch, who go on a road trip across Mexico and to a seemingly made-up beach named "Heaven's Mouth" with Tenoch's cousin's wife Luisa, after she finds out that her husband has been cheating on her.

           This film was unlike any coming-of-age film I have ever seen, and by that I mean the transition in people from their childishness to maturity. And Julio and Tenoch were childish. Played by Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna respectively, we see how all both of these friends only seem to care about their girlfriends or their sex-lives or just fooling around. And generally I am not this reprimanding of people, but the backdrop of the story shows how there is a huge change going about all around Mexico and these two seem oblivious to it. I really loved the scenes explaining the lives of people during this time, and how Julio, Tenoch and Luisa just sort of drove by. Luisa is played by the gorgeous Spanish actress Maribel Verdú, who is the object of desire for both these young men. But this is where it gets interesting for me, as they both are very much her objects of desire too. We may think she goes on this slightly hedonistic trip with them to get back at her husband, but what she is really doing is experiencing life. Amidst all the sex-talk and flirting and taunting and fighting, we see how Louisa happens to these two friends, and how they change due to the most unexpected things. I personally felt bad about how different they are at the end, but c'est la vie I suppose.

             The film is directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who is superb. At the face of it, it might seem to be a simple story but it really is not. All three leads were great, but I especially loved Verdú, who I think captured the enigma and the beauty of being an older woman so effortlessly. She is so sexy and serene and funny and sad; I think she really was the backbone of this whole tale.

Rating- 8.5/10

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Dir: Pedro Almodóvar, 1988)

Basic Plot- Pepa is a television actress, whose lover Ivan has just left her. On trying to find out the truth behind where he is, she goes to his former lover Lucía's house and sees that he has a son named Carlos. Both of them later meet when he comes with his fiancée Maria, who while apartment-hunting, are looking at Pepa's penthouse. Also Pepa's friend Candela is there, trying to escape from the police for harbouring Shiite terrorists in her house as she was in love with one of them. So in all this confusion, Pepa has to bring about order, but not without having a few nervous breakdowns of her own.

           My first Almodóvar, I really did not know what to expect while going into this. All I know is that throughout the film a Tyra Banks term was going on and on in my head, the term being "fiercely real" women. That is exactly what all the women in this film were. They were beautiful and sexy, yes, but they were also mental and funny and sort of romantic to the point of becoming cynical. They were portrayed so brilliantly in this, and showed an aspect of them I don't think has been done enough justice in all the other films I have seen- the aspect of men in their lives. I mean there are so many films that tell women to "move on to better things" and care about other stuff, which is fine, but you have got to admit that men are a very integral part of their existence.

           The dialogue was so witty and I could not stop laughing through the length of the film (I can only imagine how much funnier it would be in Spanish). This film started out with being sort of a romcom, and then there was drama and comedy throughout, and it had a very thrilling ending, so I thought it had all possible aspects to a story in it. And the fact that it was women running the show never failed to amaze me. Carmen Maura was the main protagonist Pepa, and she was fantastic I thought. There were also María Barranco, Antonio Banderas, Rossy de Palma and a sort of favourite of mine in all her fabulous madness, Julieta Serrano, who played Lucía. One thing that really stood out for me were the colours in the film. I think we are going through this whole tainted lenses and HD digital camera thing right now (I'm not sure what we call it, and while the end product is enchanting, it has become repetitive for me. So to see a film in which everything is so vivid and stands out, most of all the red, which is I think to show off the sexual aspect of the film more- I welcomed it in all its unfamiliarity. Can't wait to see more of the legendary auteur's work!

Rating- 10/10 

Sex, Lies, and Videotape (Dir: Steven Soderbergh, 1989)

Basic Plot- Ann and John are unhappily married. Ann is in therapy as she thinks the waste management problem in the world is more important than her sex-life, and John is sleeping with Ann's free-spirited sister Cynthia. In comes John's old school mate, Graham, who generally befuddles people as he meets them. John disapprove of him, and Ann feels like she should, but she is drawn to his simultaneous display of reserve and intense honesty. Also, as she later finds out, he makes videotapes of women talking about their sexuality. All four of their lives come together and everything changes.

          I am predicting that this film will go on to join ranks of films like Fight Club for me, in the sense that I was not really expecting anything when sitting down to watch it, and was totally blown away by what had just transpired when it ended. The story is totally unique and it is probably the sexiest film I have ever seen. The idea of sex, whether being repulsed by it or intrigued by it, is always there. And it is completely embraced without anyone trying to demean it in any way. The characters are such oddballs, especially Ann, played by Andie MacDowell and Graham, played by James Spader. I loved the innocence and the queasiness of MacDowell, and her final emancipation. James Spader, who played Graham, won numerous awards for his role, and rightly so. He walked on such a dangerous territory, because Graham had to be provocative and sensitive and aloof all at the same time, and in the right measure to make him likeable. He did exactly that. Laura San Giacomo, who I know as Julia Roberts's hooker friend in Pretty Woman, was excellent as Cynthia too in all her sensuality and was a stark contrast to her sister. The quartet is completed with Peter Gallagher, who plays the quite repulsive and well, close-minded John. 

        The film obviously brought about the indie film revolution. Without this, Pulp Fiction would have been part of the distant future. Soderbergh never expected it to be this big, winning Palme d'Or at Cannes and all, but how could it not? The concept, the budget it worked with, the actors, the filming, all were unlike anything seen then, or well anything I have seen yet. It ages beautifully, and shocks and surprises perfectly.

Rating- 10/10

Friday 21 October 2011


Really random, disjointed thoughts this week. Let's see if we can make any sense out of them.

1) I'm just going to start with the trailers. So what's with everyone and Tom Hardy in the This Means War trailer? He's cool, I get it. But come on, Chris Pine is awesome! And Captain Kirk. And the closest thing to Prince Charming we've ever seen (I like the Princess Diaries movies okay). But yeah, we're all totally going to watch this film for the plot. I personally am dying to watch it because it will be deadly hot, inspite of the total miscasting of Reese Witherspoon and Chelsea Handler (why is she even there?). Sherlock Holmes 2 and Woman in Black both have released their second trailers. Sherlock Holmes looks okay...I dunno. It might be nice, might suck...I can't really care much. On the other hand, Woman in Black has another good trailer out. The first one was incredible, for those who remember. The second one has more Daniel Radcliffe in it. I am really hoping the film will be great...for Dan Rad and just for the genre itself. Finally, on the topic of trailers, I have come to realise that I have become really nit-picky, or well using a more Bueller-esque word, snooty, when it comes to them. For example, The Raven. This came out a while back, but I just saw it. It's awful. The sudden, uninspiring start, the loud music, the psuedo-apocalyptic words appearing on the darkening sky, people talking in urgent voices- eugh. It might not be that terrible, seeing that I love V for Vendetta, and John Cusack's a doll, but eugh. Also, remember how last week I was talking about Tom Sturridge? The trailer of his new film Junkhearts came out. It is so freaking boring, that trailer. I really do not want to see this film because I am convinced that I will fall asleep, but then I won't let myself fall asleep because of Sturridge and I'll just end up with a gigantic headache.

2) So I was having this great movie-watching month, and I had this Halloween thing planned. But then my goldfish-like attention span and obsessive nature came in the way, as they always do. I started watching and am now addicted to Doctor Who. I mean Doctor Who is brilliance and bowties are super duper cool, but I have gotten distracted from my film-related goals and stuff. By the way, for those of you who think I am a major nerd for watching Doctor Who (like what my friends think), I must tell you that I like it for the same reasons I love Indiana Jones. Something about demented cocky heroic geniuses just makes me go "Va Va Voom!" Also the arch nemeses of the Doctor are these things called Daleks, which look like a cross between letter boxes and vacuum cleaners *cue sarcastic shudders*. Ofcourse I'll love the show.

3) I totally forgot to freak out about  Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman reuniting for a new film. YESSSSSSSSSS!! It is a political satire and it will star Joaquin Phoenix and I-love-what-she's-doing-with-her-career-save-that-Gatsby-film Carey Mulligan. Words cannot explain how much I admire Kaufman. I mean, forget John Malkovich, Kaufman's brain would be a wondrous place to visit. And I love Jonze too. Did anyone see the Scenes from the Suburbs short he made with Arcade Fire? It was interesting. I kept feeling like it was sort of the flipside of Children of Men in the sense that the world in it had a lot of young people and no grown-ups of any consequence, except the military folk.

4) A big shout out to Stevee at Cinematic Paradox, who is celebrating her/its 2nd Birthday today. She's ab fab! Also check out her 100 Favourite Films. Brilliant which does not make me feel completely clueless thank god. I am thinking about maybe doing this list, but it is so hard. Also see the goldfish-attention span above.

5) Did anyone see this? She looks fantastic.

Bye guys.

Monday 17 October 2011

Just when you thought it was over...

I'm sobbing right now. I can't even...I'm so watching this.

Also, just when you thought Harry Potter could not make any more money... highest grossing documentary anyone?

Friday 14 October 2011

"Oh, I think we want to keep these proceedings as pleasant as possible."

            There is a very favourite quote of mine which I read in this book called Jigs and Reels by Joanne Harris. The book is a collection of short stories by the author, and this particular one which the quote comes from is called Fules Gold and it's about an English teacher, who while correcting his students' essays, finds in one of the essays the last original idea. Ever. Anyways the quote goes like this, "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."

             Now the reason I give such an introduction, which has the terms like "original idea", "colour", "black and white", "good triumphing at the end" and well, "American", because they can be used to describe the film Pleasantville. It is an old favourite of mine, one of the first films to enchant me with the idea of black and white and colour together, and as having just seen it now after quite some time, I am pretty sure it's my favourite with this concept.

(And now I am going to put some of my favourite screenshots showing this, and the review after).

             A teenager named David, who lives in the 90s, is disenchanted by the world around him. The beginning of the film shows a number of his classes where his all of his teachers are talking about how only life could get worse as time progresses. His parents are divorced and it seems like both are trying to stay as away from him as possible. Also he has a slutty twin sister Jennifer who hates him, and thinks she is from "the cool side of the uterus". David finds solace in a quintessential black and white 50s television sitcom called Pleasantville in which parents love their children, people say "swell", firemen only exist to rescue cats from trees, everyone eats hearty meals, couples sleep in separate beds promoting all the safe sex, and ofcourse, everyone is really very pleasant. David has memorised all the episodes of Pleasantville and thinks he has gotten the opportunity of his life when during a weekend-long marathon of the sit-com, there is a trivia quiz on it, allowing him to show off his expertise and win prizes for it. However Jennifer has her big date at the same time and this leads to a normal-sibling quarrel and the remote breaks. As soon as the remote breaks though, a strange TV repairman comes and seeing David's extensive knowledge on the subject of Pleasantville, gives them a special remote and goes back just as the show starts and both start fighting over the remote again. In the show the main two kids, also teenagers, Bud and Mary Sue, are fighting, just as David and Jennifer in real life. In all this struggling, the button of the remote accidentally gets pressed, and David and Jennifer then find themselves inside Pleasantville- in black and white and everything.

            Once there, David decides to play along, as he already knows all the characters and what is supposed to happen to everyone. Jennifer, on the other hand, is less inclined to just walk around in a "sweater and a poodle skirt" and starts stirring things up, first by "pinning" the attractive basketball captain Skip. These changes in the normal behavior and outlook of people starts reflecting in the world around them as suddenly random things begin getting colour in them. The blank library books get filled up with literature and pictures, fire comes to life in splendid fashion, sex becomes viral and so does pop music, and the answer of "What's outside of Pleasantville?" changes from being "the beginning all over again" to "roads that just go on". David first tries to fight it, but then he sees how much this place needs colour. Ofcourse the town authorities are less pleased with it, and they try to stop the "coloureds" from taking over, as they think they are a perversion towards everything pleasant. 

           The film was written, produced and directed by Gary Ross. I think I am just so amazed by the concept of it all, that everything else just fades in comparison. Pleasantville is the ultimate utopia, or so David thinks so from outside the television box, but from within, he sees how wrong things are. People go throughout their lives afraid of any kind of change, but does that really make them grow? It is said that the only thing constant is change, and when that does not happen, I suppose the world gets filled with shades of black and white and grey. There is one scene in the film when Bud's employer, the soda-shop owner Bill Johnson, who is also an occasional painter, sees the art book that Bud got for him, and becomes sad thinking about how he could never paint like the greats because he will never be able to see colours like that. And then he says "Must be awful lucky to see colors like that," showing another facet of the story that we are never really happy with our own existence and keep trying to find ideal situations where we think everything will be for the better. One can look at this year's Midnight in Paris and its "Golden Age Thinking" concept for that. Yet another example from this year, which I found myself comparing Pleasantville with was Tree of Life, as we see how the whole change first affects the youth, then the mothers, and it is the fathers who seem adamant to quash it out. Many allusions occur throughout the film, which again, I think is quite clever. We see book-burning, discrimination against the "coloureds" (see: the courtroom seating and how it channels To Kill a Mockingbird), accepting sexual needs as part of nature, art becoming a voice of those who dare to differ, and how authorities never look kindly at it.

               Another facet is the idolisation of the American 50s suburbia ideal. Now this one I could not connect with as much as the others, but I like the thought put behind it too. One of the best examples for this is the role of Betty Parker, Bud's and Mary Sue's mother, who looks and acts like the perfect 50s housewife, but the changes affect her quite early on in the film. Her sadness is caused due to her almost subservient existence and only being concerned with her husband and her children and the cooking, and not think about herself at all. When this feeling creeps into her, we see how she changes and how that frightens her at first, but then she becomes quite proud of her life and thinking. I think I loved her character the best in the film. She was played by the sublime Joan Allen. I mean as many teenage girls there are in the film, none of them match her beauty. She is so perfect and sad and transparent. The other one I really liked was David/Bud, who was played by Tobey Maguire. Maguire has that instant likeability about him, and though we see that this causes his character problems in the real world, he thrives in Pleasantville. I think because his character was such a dork essentially, that he knew about oppression of ideas and innovative thinking, which helps him take the drastic steps that help change all the pleasantness around. His character has an especially strong bond with that of his small-screen mother, as is depicted in a beautiful scene when he covers up the lovely colours of her face with grey makeup.

              I thought Reese Witherspoon's character Jennifer/Mary Sue was really interesting. According to IMDb trivia (yes I read that), 'Mary Sue' is a name given to a female character who comes into people's lives and solves their problems. She does do that...she is the first one to challenge the routine pleasantness of the place, but we see that though it causes changes around her, there is no change in her. As David points out, "Maybe it's not just the sex," and she has one of the most interesting character developments, showing that the film doesn't promote sex as the only way to "free one's self", rather everything that is different from us and we are afraid to try out is what does the trick. I want Witherspoon to go back to these roles...she is so effortlessly bitchy and bad-ass, I love it! Then we have Jeff Daniels playing the soda-shop owner/artist Bill. This is the second time Daniels has played a fictional character with a very real side in a film I love. He is really sweet in the film, and so is William H. Macy, who plays Betty's husband George. He is so clueless about things, and his perplexity at things not going according to routine is both comical and endearing. The last person to mention is the Pleasantville Mayor Big Bob, who is the McCarthy-esque authority head, played by J.T. Walsh. At times I have thought maybe his character could have been more diabolical, but then I remembered the name of the film and shut up.

             As shown and said above, I am a huge fan of the way this film looks and the inter-mixing of colours and black and white. This was done by making the whole film in colour, and then de-saturating and contrasting and so on. The sets were also spot on, portraying the perfect American 50s town, with soda shops and houses with white picket fences. The soundtrack is full of many classic oldies, but I think my favourite is right at the end, which is Fiona Apple's cover of 'Across the Universe'. Digressing here, the video of this song is set in Bill's soda shop, and is directed by P.T. Anderson, and when I found that out, my brain had like a weird spasm when I tried picturing what this film would be like if Anderson had directed it... I like it just how it is though.

           I would just like to end this post by saying that Pleasantville is a brilliant film It looks and sounds gorgeous, but underneath that pretty exterior, is also a fantastic story about changes and life and how it's fine not being pleasant all the time. WATCH!!

Thursday 13 October 2011


1) Okay so this has been bugging me for quite sometime now, but everytime I sit down to type these thoughts, I forget about it. Walter Salles's adaptation of Beat classic On The Road was supposed to come out this year. I had originally gotten interested because of Tom Sturridge, who is sort of like my underrated-actor-I-have-been-waiting-to-properly-get-discovered-person. I'm sure everyone has their own versions of him. However the film has a great many actors I like- Sam Riley from Control, Kristen Stewart in a non-Bella avatar, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams and Garrett Hedlund (who I don't particularly like but meh), and Walter Salles is pretty well-known for Bicycle Diaries, which I've seen the beginning of, but will finish watching some day soon. And then ofcourse there is the source material. On The Road by Jack Kerouac is among the great classics of 20th century, and this is how I think of it: it inspired Bob Dylan, who in turn directly or indirectly inspired all musicians after him. So in theory all music we know now wouldn't really exist without this one book, and I'm just talking about music here. I mean there's literature and ideas and culture and everything. It's so friggin' important and so why the hell is it not releasing?! A friend of mine who shares similar feelings towards Sturridge as me believes it is because he is a sort of curse to his films, which is not completely a baseless accusation, but MY GOD THIS IS ON THE ROAD! And as written above, a lot of famous, talented people are involved. There isn't even a trailer yet, or a teaser trailer. We live in the age of teaser trailers and teaser posters for crying out loud! Ugh.

2) Speaking of trailers, good week! First we have Young Adult, written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman, who brought us the wonderful and quirky Juno. And it stars Charlize Theron and the "girl you hated most in high school" who is back in her home town with a bang! She looks fabulous in this, and I an just getting Miranda Priestly-ish shivers. TOO COOL! Then there is The Avengers trailer, which has been directed by Joss Wheldon of the Buffy-fame. I love a good action film, and this promises to be just that. Awesome trailer and everyone from Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johannson and ofcourse, my newest favourite supervillain- Tom Hiddleston as Loki, are all there. I am so bloody excited for this film!! Finally the trailer for Albert Nobbs starring Glenn Close, Mia Wasikowska, Brendan Gleeson, Aaron Johnson and Jonathan Rhys Meyers(?!) which just came out. I think it looks adorable, though I can't shake the feeling that it is this year's equivalent to The King's Speech. Well as long as it doesn't win any undeserved Oscars, I'm looking forward to this too.

3) I had my first David Lynch experience with Mulholland Drive today. Um, yeah...I'll get back to you on that.

4) I want to do the stereotypical yet fun Horror Movies Marathon for Halloween thing this year. I'm not the biggest fan of the genre, but I would prefer sort of atmospheric horror over gross gore, like The Others over Saw. Any suggestions?

5) I saw The Princess Bride twice last week, and it has just reinforced my love for the cult epic.
I just adore this film


Monday 10 October 2011

My Supers List

            I was going to make this list earlier, but had given up on it once I thought it was too late to make it or that I will never watch Green Lantern in order to make a legit list. However, that was my in-flight movie from Calcutta to Dubai, and then I bought the October issue of Total Film magazine later, which has a huge and well, gorgeous pic of Andrew Garfield a.k.a. my future husband, as Spiderman on the cover. So now I am without any excuses, and Spidey does look like some sort of a sign.

My Favourite Superhero Films of 2011

Note- I refuse to include films like I am Number Four or Spy Kids 4 or any such film which might have world-saving or supernatural abilities involved. They are weird and I don't like them. Also there are no superheroes. Just wanted to make that clear.

4) Green Lantern and Green Hornet -
The Green superheroes really sucked balls this year. I knew Green Lantern would be terrible from the trailer itself. There was the stupid purple alien, Blake Lively trying to look smart and Peter Sarsgaard with a Mojo Jojo-esque forehead. And it really was that bad. I got really irritated watching it on the flight. For one thing, everytime anyone called Ryan Reynolds "Hal", I went "Holbrook" in my head. It was very strange. And like someone said in Big Bang Theory, why the hell was yellow the colour of fear and green the colour of will? It all just seemed stupid to me. Though I will say this, Reynolds must have tried his hardest to make this not suck as bad as it did, and I applaud him for his efforts. That's the only good thing about this film (don't even get me started on pairing up purple and green together...somethings should best not be filmed).

In Green Hornet's case, I didn't think it was as awful as Green lantern, but it has to be one of the most disappointing films that I have ever seen. I really thought this one will be super special. Michel Gondry was making it, Seth Rogen was the proper non-superhero-looking superhero, Christoph Waltz was the baddie, Jay Chou looked cool. But then kaput! It was all so pointless and stupid and unnecessary. I just grew sicker and sicker of this film while watching it. It wasn't that funny, Rogen and Chou were annoying, Cameron Diaz was as good as not being there at all, and Waltz tried a bit, but it all just bombed. I thought it would've been like Kick-Ass last year, but it was just a big fat fail.

3) Thor-
I was quite unsure about this one. But it turned out fine. I wrote about it here. As said in my short review, I thought the effects and the story was nice, and what really lifted this film for me was Tom Hiddleston as Loki. I do love supervillains, and Loki was my second favourite this year. It was a fun action movie, an almost perfect summer blockbuster with humour and special effects and a good, relatively simple plot.

2) X-Men: First Class-
That, by the way, was one of the best scenes of the year. I mean not only are James McAvoy, High Jackman and Michael Fassbender sharing the same screen-space, Wolverine just voiced out the thoughts of the many McFassy shippers throughout Tumblr. Anyways, this film was gorgeous. Yes there were too many stories and not everything was tied up properly, but come on, I am a girl and this is a film that makes me think of the quote- "The stuff dreams are made of." The amount of man-candy in this film is preposterous. But even without that, this is an actual good prequel which was able to show the very brilliant relationship between Charles Xaviers and Erik Lehnsherr before they were Professor X and Magneto respectively. It also showed other origin stories of characters like Mystique and Beast before their grown-up blue years. And in case you were wondering, Magneto is my favourite supervillain/more-of-an-anti-hero-really for this year. This has also become my favourite X-Men movie till date, and really truly made me a fan of Matthew Vaughn.

1) Captain America: The First Avenger-
Now I really did not expect to love this film, and the superhero. He was so American and everything, and Hugo Weaving was the bad guy, so I was convinced I cannot possibly root for anyone else. But there was something very earnest and good about the way Chris Evans portrayed Steve Rogers/ Captain America. I think the only superhero I have ever really liked is Ironman, and that too because he is quite a mischievous and fun one. But Steve was such a darling, and so brave and out there to prove himself, without becoming annoying, that my heart went out for him. I thought Captain America was a really good film. The look and the period-setting was spot on, and made very cool with the gadgets and machines and stuff. Also I thought that the 'Star Spangled Man' montage, with the superhero being exploited before he is allowed to go out there and kick Nazi butt, was very novel. And it had enough action for my liking, which was one of the things I thought X-Men lacked. The story was a nice uplifting one and the supporting characters were great. I especially loved Haylee Atwell in this. She was so not a damsel in distress. Rather she was quite sexy and smart and held her own very well. Tommy lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper as Papa Stark, and Weaving were all very good too. Ofcourse Evans was the best, and proved my long-standing belief that he was born to play a superhero. It was a thoroughly enjoyable film, and as it surpassed my expectations by a huge margin, I think it really deserves the top spot in this little super list of mine.

         So there you have it. I wish there would have been ten more superhero films this year to truly show how much I hated Green Lantern and Green Hornet, but that's not really a good thing, is it? What do you think about my list? Anything you'd like to be different? How much are you looking forward to next year's superhero flicks (The Amazing Spiderman, Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises, Ghost Rider 2 *snort*)? Do you even like superheroes?

Sunday 9 October 2011

"I don't carry a gun... I drive."

             As the hot pink lettering on the black screen fade away, and an electronic beat starts playing, we hear the voice of a man, a nameless man, who is talking about the streets of a city. The first image that comes on the screen is of a marked map, and then we see this man, his scorpion jacket and everything, talking on his phone, telling the person on the other end of the line about his conditions and rules. Soon we find out that this nameless driver is the getaway driver for two robbers and what then ensues is one of the most riveting opening sequences that I have ever seen, definitely the best one since last year's The Social Network. But while TSN's opening sequence showcases the clever dialogue that will become the essence of the film, Drive's opening sequence shows the mystery and the efficiency of the Driver, the fast-paced action and an excellent car chase, the almost addictive pop score, and of course, the total unexpectedness of 'what will happen next' that will continue throughout the film. And this really is just the beginning.

            It is because of this unexpected nature of the film that I will just mention the obvious plotline that one is able to devise from its trailer. There is a man, who I'm sure everyone knows by now, doesn't have a name and is simply called the Driver in the film's IMDb page. He drives stunt cars in Hollywood films by day, and is a getaway driver at night. He meets a woman named Irene and her kid, and his very exciting yet lonely life changes, for what seems, the better. That is until her husband returns from prison and is in some kind of trouble. The Driver decides to help him, but then all hell breaks loose. It is then that the Driver has to takes things into his own hands to protect the only people he has seemingly ever cared about in his life.

          God I make that sound so clichéd, and you know even if the basic idea seems all too familiar, the film really is not. Atleast not to me. I have read innumerable reviews in which comparisons have been drawn to 70s action flicks, and that it is an "arthouse Transporter" and that's probably right because people have seen much more cinema than I have, obviously. I am not at all familiar with 70s action films and I have not seen any of the Transporter films because of reasons unknown to all of us. Personally speaking, I found elements of Taxi Driver, American Psycho and A Clockwork Orange in the film, but the latter two were just singular scenes. I sort of liked my ignorance in this case, having had two amazing cinematic experiences, and this film has just left me wanting so much more.

              For one thing, I am going to watch all of Nicolas Winding Refn's films soon. He has made one stylish film here, for which he won a well deserved Best Director award at this year's Cannes. I am a  huge fan of specific shots that make me go "And this is why I love films", and they were there in Drive aplenty. The lighting especially defined some of the best shots in the film. For starters there was L.A. as the back drop, and it is the city of lights and the perfect place to film those amazing car chases. Then the kiss, which was dazzling and beautiful. Towards the end there was a scene with a lighthouse, and it has stuck to my brain like superglue, I was that impressed with it. But those are just some scenes. Contrasting with these bright gritty scenes, there were scenes between the Driver and Irene, like when he takes her and her kid for a drive, that were soft and intimate and just real. I liked the emotional sweet parts as much as the gory visceral ones. Refn struck a great balance in this film in this way. While the first-half was slow, but darling, the second-half was one intense, brutal ride. The screenwriter Hossein Amini should get equal points for this; he really has written a thrilling film that isn't just some action flick with computer effects galore, but  rather a somewhat emotional film with quite a violent streak in it.

            Speaking of emotional things with violent streaks, can Ryan Gosling as the Driver be more bang on? And fantastic? It is one of the most restrained performances that I have ever seen. He only speaks when completely necessary, he drives with utmost focus, he smiles occasionally, and though they are not big smiles, they seem ginormous because of the rarity of such smiles. And all this is important, because once he breaks this reserve of his, he is a very dangerous man who can bash your brains out, quite literally. I think this might have become my favourite performance by Gosling ever. Gosling, who has the ability to give really intense performances but more on an emotional level, is almost stoic here. The Driver seems to have no feelings or thoughts or cares, but once Irene and her kid enters his life, we immediately understand how devastatingly lonely he is. I am going to put in another superbly clichéd line here so you have been warned, but he tries to save them so much because they had saved him. He was a nameless man with a pointless existence, no matter how cool, but they give him a reason to live and fight for something. Sure his methods are a bit out of hand (if there ever was an understatement...), but his motives are in place, and because of all this, Driver has now joined the very prestigious list of my favourite anti-heroes. 

          It is true that this was Gosling's film through and through, but the whole ride would have been slightly boring, inspite of the awesome music playing (more on that later), if he wasn't backed by some stellar supporting performances. The two I really loved are of Carey Mulligan's, who plays Irene, and Albert Brooks's, who plays Bernie Ross. It is true that Mulligan can do sad roles well, my favourite one was in Never Let Me Go, but I really did not expect Irene from her. What I mean is that the whole image of a lonely, American single-mother with her husband in prison is not what one necessarily thinks of when they think of Mulligan, but she pulled it off. She is sweet and adorable in the film, and no wonder the Driver would want to go to any lengths to protect her. Her chemistry with Gosling was incredible. During their, for lack of a better word, courtship period, the simple smiles and long glances that they gave to each other was more sincere than most over-the-top romantic crap we see nowadays. The second time when I had gone to watch this film, it was with two female friends of mine and one of them kept trying to think of expected lines and things that we are so used to in such scenes. But none of that happened, which is good. It made me think of something Uma Thurman said as Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction, "Why do we feel it's necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable? ...That's when you know you've found somebody special. When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence." If anything can define the Driver's and Irene's relationship, it's that quote. And that kiss...*swoon* Apparently Gosling put it in there because he really wanted to kiss Mulligan. Good call sir (Lucky Bitch!).

               Albert Brooks, on the other hand, is the furthest thing from sweet and adorable you can find. Of course if you think that being a two-faced, murderously efficient or efficiently murderous mobster is sweet and adorable, he is exactly that. When we first meet him, he seems okay...I mean as far as mobster go, talking about his fortune cookies and all. But the second he meets the Driver and admits to his hands being dirty, you know this guy is bad news. He tries to be friendly with everyone- the Driver, Shannon, who is played by Bryan Cranston, Nino, played by Ron Perlman, but something evil and disturbing lurks underneath his skin. While I only had Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver to compare the Driver with, and that also not so much because the former now looks like a Parliamentarian orator compared to the latter, I could see clearly the kind of mobster Bernie Ross was. He had the whole gruff talking and frighteningly vicious criminal thing down. And that is amazing, seeing that Brooks is famous for being a comedic actor.

              Among the others, Cranston was good as an almost-fatherly figure to the Driver, who has a lot of bad luck. Now most people would compare this performance of his to his character in Breaking Bad, but I know him as Malcolm's dad, so you can see how remarkable it was to me. I especially liked the final part of when his character is shown. Perlman, a.k.a. Hellboy, was the slobbery, angry mobster Nino who contrasted with the perfectionist, cool and collected Bernie. Oscar Isaac played Standard, Irene's ex-convict husband. He could have been deadly generic, but he was very good too as an emotional family man who is trying to do the right thing. Christina Hendricks of Mad Men was in this as well. She had a really minor role, albeit a pivotal one, but honestly I couldn't care less about her. Last, but not the least, Irene's son Benicio was played by Kaden Leos, who was so cute and his scenes with Gosling were lovely and touching.

        I have two more points to make about this film, but I'll take help of another review. This is what NME magazine had to say about Drive:
'Drive is the epitome of cool. It isn't just as cool as fuck. It's cooler. That's right: “Drive Is Cooler Than Fuck”.'
I agree whole-heartedly. Three reasons: the first is everything I have written above- you know the whole mysterious scary driver, and stunning shots, and stylish directing, and splendid acting. The second would be the music. I personally am not a big fan of electronic, synth-pop tunes that were prevalent throughout the film. Having said that, I must say that I am now a big fan of those tunes because of the way they were put in the film. Gosling has talked about how he chose Refn to direct this film because Refn had wanted to make a film about a guy who drives around at nights listening to pop music. So you see the music is as an integral part of the story as the friggin' Driver himself, somewhat. The four songs that come in the film- 'Nightcall', 'Under Your Spell', 'Oh My Love' and 'A Real Hero' were perfectly placed according to the mood and feel of the film, especially 'Under Your Spell' which plays when Standard returns and it is playing in his welcoming party and it just means so much to the Driver and Irene. Ahmazing! The final reason why Drive is so fucking cool is because of the iconic status that it is going to inevitably reach. The Driver, with his duo-coloured scorpion jacket and leather gloves and toothpick-biting and the song 'A Real Hero' describing's all going to become huge. I can see it. It has been a while that a film has really gotten a cult status, the last film worthy of it was Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, in my opinion, though that had Michael Cera and this has Ryan Gosling. I know I shouldn't care about how cool a film is and just think about all its goodness, but meh. I want to be the person who was there when it all happened. Drive might be for me what Pulp Fiction was to the people who were old enough to get it in the 90s. And that seriously is wayyyy cooler than fuck.

       I guess that's all folks. I loved this film to bits, my second favourite this year, that too only by a margin. It is awesome and gritty and smooth and just a hell of a ride. Oscar-wise, I'd love to see Refn, Gosling and Brooks get recognised but this film is a bit non-Oscar-baity. And I don't even care about that because um, was The King's Speech cooler than fuck? I didn't think so. So anyways, GO SEE IT!!