Tuesday 31 December 2013

My Top 10 Films of 2013, Somewhat

       My annual incomplete favourite movies list is here! As usual, due to the unfairness of the universe and general release dates problems, there are a number of 2013 films I have not been able to watch and therefore am unable to do a proper best films list. I hope to do my year's favourites sometime in February, as always, so look out for things like performances, scenes, shots, films etc. then.

Spring Breakers
It's a wonderful feeling when you see a film and you know that it is something totally original and it's unlikely you'll ever seen anything like it again. This film is as insane as it is beautiful, both a satire of and an altar to American pop culture, a feminist coming-of-age tale and a gangster flick- there is no one way of describing Spring Breakers and I love it for it.

Blue is the Warmest Colour
I guess coming-of-age is a recurrent theme for my favourite movies this year, because in Blue as well, we see the enticing and flawed Adèle grow up while falling in and out of the most maddening and consuming sort of love. A gorgeous look at a character to whom Adèle Exarchopoulos gives it her all.

This film broke my heart. The realisation of how true everlasting love doesn't exist in the real world is affecting enough, and then we have actors like Matthew McConaughey and the excellent Tye Sheridan who were just so good. Really touching film.

My first favourite film of this year. It's almost addictive in a way. The actors, the story, the cinematography, the music- I have had a constant need to keep revisiting this film throughout the year because of these. It's sexy and creepy just like that unforgettable piano scene. Really gets under your skin.

The Blue Umbrella
Very few things make me as happy as a Pixar short, and I really do think this is one of their best. "The course of true love never did run smooth," as the Bard said, and we see that in the simplest yet most magical way in this short about a blue umbrella falling in love with a red umbrella.

I regret not having written a review of this because it is easily the most inspiring film I have seen all year. Both the character of Wadjda and the efforts of director Haifaa al-Mansour warrant that title. It's lovely and hopeful and Wadjda is truly my hero.

The Lunchbox
An Indian housewife makes food to impress her husband but the tiffin intended for him accidentally reaches a lonely widower and thus a most unexpected romance begins. This film does so much right, from the isolation felt by people in big metros to the adorable humour to getting the perfect tone between both, largely due to the phenomenal cast of character actors and the fantastic direction. Films like this keep my faith in Indian cinema alive.

I don't claim to be an expert on what makes a classic and what doesn't, but I genuinely feel that in years to come, Gravity will be hailed as one. To mesh so perfectly a tale of the triumph of human spirit, a nail-biting thriller and a visual extravaganza and just that, without any deviations or distractions, keeping the audience as rapt as possible, is no simple task. Kudos to Alfonso Cuarón and his team.

Frances Ha
There's a lot in this movie that screams "First World Problems", but the moment Frances, played by the luminescent Greta Gerwig, says "I'm not a real person yet," it started to feel universal. Frances Ha is about a certain time in our lives when our dreams and reality go their separate ways. I can see it happening to me, and whereas that would usually just fill me with paralysing fear, the adorkability of Frances and the simple humour and pathos that pervades the whole film weirdly gives me hope. Added to that, the film is one of the most truthful portrayals of female friendship, and is reminiscent of Woody Allen's movies and the French New Wave. Altogether, it's like magic.

Stories We Tell
I have not seen many documentaries in my life and so Stories We Tell completely caught me completely by surprise. It's so personal yet so universal. Sarah Polley traces her mother's life and subsequently her origins with the help of her family and close friends, and through that also explores the nature of stories and memories. I thought it was beautiful and brave and ingenious and nothing like I have ever seen before. Michael Polley's narration and the obvious love and caring that everyone in this film has for each other had me crying buckets. I really love this film.

       Happy New Year everyone :)

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Have a great day everyone. Hope all of you get the Christmas gifts you want. 
I have my fugly yet perfect Christmas tree to give me joy, which I will need because of Doctor Who

Also, you've all watched this, yes?

Happy Christmas indeed! Eat cakes and stuff :D

Saturday 21 December 2013

New Favourite 100-ish List

My new Favourite 100-ish List is up. There has been a lot of reshuffling with a few additions and removals. The Godfather isn't in my list anymore so I guess I'm going to cinephile hell. On the other hand, Hot Fuzz, my erstwhile number 101, has joined the list directly at 57. Yarp.

The most represented decade is the 2000s and the least represented is the 1930s (none from before 1930- need to work on that). 

Movies added to the list: La haine, Dogville, The Double Life of Veronique (re-added), Cloud Atlas, Dev D, Frances Ha, Hot Fuzz, Brief Encounter, Stories We Tell, Chungking Express, Toy Story 3 (in place of the Toy Story trilogy)

Movies no longer in the list: Breaking the Waves, A Hard Day's Night, Almost Famous, Polar Express, To Die For, The Godfather, Bande à part, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Margaret, Dog Day Afternoon, Toy Story and Toy Story 2

Hope you like it :)

It's Being Norma Jeane's 4th Birthday and so I did a thing...

(Yes, I don't know what I'm doing with my hands either)

Guys! 4 years! Yaaaay!! Thank you everyone for making this blog whatever it is today.
I will post my new top 100-ish films list tomorrow :)

Thursday 19 December 2013

Across the Universe Podcast: Episode 16

Episode 16: Jingle Bell Rock

Holiday cheer is in the air and the chicks with accents, that is MetteSofia and yours truly, bring you our Christmas episode. In it, we talk about three of our favourite Christmas movies and also discuss our Interesting Movies of the Fortnight. So listen in and join the fun!

0:14- Chick-chatter
2:34- Trailer
3:08- Interesting Movie of the Fortnight
25:21- The chicks discuss Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
39:18- The chicks discuss The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
50:49- The chicks discuss The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
1:05:12- Plugs and Goodbyes

Kanye West "Bound 2"
Mean Girls "Jingle Bell Rock"
Fiona Apple "Across The Universe"

Follow us at: facebook.com/acrosstheuniversepodcast
Write to us at: acrosstheuniversepodcast@gmail.com
Find us on iTunes: search for Across the Universe Podcast
Download episodes from: Our Dropbox page

Monday 9 December 2013

Breaking Emotions Blogathon- ALL OF THE EMOTIONS!!

       When Mettel Ray announced her Breaking Emotions blogathon, I commented on her blog with a very enthusiastic “Count me in!” not taking into account the fact that I would be traveling, attending a full-blown film festival and going to college in the meantime, and hence having me no time or brain power to actually write the posts.

      To make amends, I have decided to just tackle the beast once and for all and give you guys a gargantuan Breaking Emotions: ALL OF THE EMOTIONS post. Enjoy!

Note: This post contains SPOLERS. Also, I haven’t seen some of these movies in a while now and I just want to apologise in advance in case I forget some of the details of the scenes. HATE was the hardest emotion to list down as I am not in the habit of remembering scenes I have disliked in the past. Conversely, LOVE was the emotion with the most number of choices for me to choose from because I love films! :)

3) Antichrist- SHE injures herself
The only reason this scene is #3 and not #1 is because I don’t remember when the scene starts and when it ends and I really don’t want to rewatch and find out. That entire last half hour of Antichrist is a hellish experience with this being the creepiest part of them all. Gahhhhhhh!

2) No Country for Old Men- Anton Chigurh visits Llewelyn Moss’s hotel room
I have spoken about how Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh manages to fill me up with fear by just being in a scene. This scene stands out the most for me because of the tension that it builds up and the idea of Chigurh standing outside your door with that damned gun of his is fucking terrifying *squeaks and hides under the bed*.

1) Magnolia- the raining frogs
Never in my life have I been more freaked out by a scene. I was so into the movie and then these gigantic freakin’ amphibians just start crashing onto windscreens of cars and on people and there’s blood everywhere and they’re huge and gross- you get the picture *shudders*.

3) Blue is the Warmest Colour- Adele and Emma have sex for the first time
I know it is a bit controversial including this in my list, but let me explain. I have no actual problems with the scene. Heck, in the whole context of the film and the big fight at the end, I think it makes total sense why the scene is there. But at the same time, the only time I have watched it is next to my friend and an ex-professor and amidst a sea of middle-aged men. Also the fact that it was the only time in the entire film festival when there was total silence in the crowd, and well, all the ass-slapping on screen ended up being kind of deafening. It was a very weird experience.

2) Bridget Jones’s Diary- Bridget makes a speech at her office’s party
It is one of those scenes that you can’t help but relate to and be embarrassed by.

1) Festen- the racist guests
Festen is, on a whole, a very uncomfortable movie. The story, the people, the way it is shot- it just makes you feel awkward. But never more than when a whole room full of white people decide to mock a black man by singing a song about a racial equality. So unpleasant.

3) The Hours- the whole movie really, but the ending specifically
I don’t know what exactly is it about The Hours that makes me so, well, emotional. Even the trailer makes me cry. If I had to choose just one scene though, it will probably be the ending when Clarissa has finally decided to embrace life, with Virginia’s voice-over in which she’s narrating the letter she wrote to her husband. It’s beautiful and uplifting though with the obvious tragic connections.

2) City Lights- the Flower Girl finally realises who the Tramp is
To quote The Dreamers, “You remember the last shot of City Lights? He looks at the Flower Girl. She looks at him. And don’t forget she’d been blind, so she was seeing him for the very first time and it’s as if through her eyes, we’re also seeing him for the very first time. Charlie Chaplin, the most famous man in the world! And it’s as if we’ve never really seen him before.
How can you not cry?

1) Titanic- Jack Dawson dies
16 years. It’s been 16 years since this film released and I am still a blubbering mess by the end. And to date, even though I must have watched the film at least 30 times, I secretly hope he won’t die but alas, EVERY TIME! *sniffs*

3) Cafe de Flore- the connection
Cafe de Flore is a very beautiful film showing two apparently disconnected stories. The scene that finally reveals why and how they are related is surprising and also very gorgeously shot.

2) Sympathy for Lady Vengeance- the revenge
The way people behave always has the power to surprise us. The whole scene with the guardians taking revenge on the Mr. Baek was not something I expected from this film. It was both satisfying and sickening, and hence kind of awesome.

1) The Shawshank Redemption- Andy escapes
Has any other hole in a wall made your heart skip a beat like this one did? Even if one knows this scene, you can’t quite deny that sudden rush one feels as they realise what Andy has achieved.

3) Midnight in Paris- Gil meets Salvador Dali
I see a rhinoceros.

2) The Apartment- the ending
My cheeks actually start hurting by this point. Jack Lemmom and Shirley Temple are the cutest!

1) Moulin Rouge!- the Elephant Medley
Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman, all the songs, the elephant- it’s all so perfect and happy and pretty and colourful.

3) Inglourious Basterds- Hans Landa interrogates Monsieur LaPadite
Quentin Tarantino is a god when it comes to words. The way he just builds up this scene, with Christoph Waltz’s unique brand of nastiness and all the tension just heightening till we get that gory conclusion- it’s amazing.

2) Boogie Nights- Dirk, Reed and Todd visit Rahad Jackson
Those bursting firecrackers. I have never been more on edge during a scene. And it works excellently with the pressure escalating as Dirk, Reed and Todd attempt to scam Rahad. And of course, we all know how it all ends.

1) Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix- Dumbledore versus Voldemort
This is my favourite duel from all the Harry Potter movies. It is spectacular, thrilling and then it ends with Harry being possessed by Voldemort and defeating him internally just as how Dumbledore defeats him with his powers.

3) The Amazing Shit-Man Spider-Man- the final climax
Ugh cranes? Really, Spidey? Really? To save everyone from turning into lizard-people? GAH THIS FILM IS SO STUPID!!!

2) Chennai Express- Rahul and Meena try to escape from Thangaballi by communicating through songs.
I could have really chosen any moment from this film to be on this list. It *is* an amazingly idiotic movie. But I was so enraged by Shahrukh Khan using his hit songs from his good movies in all these moronic ways. Why would one mock their own legacy in that way? And then that Tangabali dude sings too. Ugh, no!

1) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom- the feast
I love Indiana Jones, like for realz. But even 10 year old me could sense how offensive this scene was. And I usually don’t act all patriotic and whatnot, but didn’t Spielberg and Lucas do any research at all? It’s just shameful.

3) Pulp Fiction- Mia and Vincent enter the Jack Rabbit Slims Twist Contest
I saw this film on my 16th birthday and for someone who has practically grown up watching dance numbers in movies, this was nothing like I had ever seen before. It was strange and sexy and awesome and it’s still my life’s mission to learn the dance perfectly, for both parts.

2) Before Sunset- Celine sings a waltz.
The whole ending is as perfect as they come but I could really just sit and watch Julie Delpy singing on her guitar and Ethan Hawke reacting to it for my whole life.

1) Fight Club- Jack versus Jack
My most favourite scene of all time. My brain just explodes every time I watch this scene. How did they do it? I don’t even want to know. I just want to bask in its awesomeness. 

        And that’s it. I hope you like my choices. And please check out all the other brilliant entries for the blogathon.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Making a Case for Best Actress for Greta Gerwig

For my last post for Stevee Taylor's "Making the Case for" Blogathon, I look at one of the most delightful performances of this year that's just about stolen my heart.

Greta Gerwig's Frances reminds me a lot of Annie Hall. She's funny, sweet, flustered, confused and at the end of the day, very real. I loved how one could see her flaws and still be delighted by her and for her. Gerwig just puts so much life into this role that you feel like you are watching Frances herself and not someone who is playing a role. Maybe it's because I haven't seen any other Gerwig performances barring that in To Rome with Love that I feel so, but still, I do believe there is this naturalness and effortlessness, even in all the little quirks, that I have not seen this year. And she's just so likeable! I know that that isn't really a criteria for a good performance; in fact, it's usually the opposite, but for a role that could have come off as whiny and pompous and clingy, and there are definitely moments of that, Gerwig just manages to put so much charm into Frances. When she dances or runs or invents truths or tells people what she wants in life or just stares across a room, it is, to borrow a phrase from Miss Frances, like magic. You are drawn to her, and not because she's pretty or quirky or charismatic, but because she's also normal, and that's okay. Gerwig's Frances taught me that it's okay to be okay, and I really hope and pray that all the awards voters see that and feel that too. It's just such a wonderful performance.

My previous posts:

Friday 6 December 2013

Making a Case for Best Actor for Tye Sheridan

      For my second entry for Stevee Taylor's awesome "Making a Case For" Blogathon, I look at one of the most touching performances I have seen this year with hopes that it gets some awards attention when the time comes.

Mud is a film about a young boy coming of age and realising that true love does not always exist in real life, as much as we want it to. Tye Sheridan plays Ellis, the boy who has these experiences and a lot of the film is seen through his naive perspective. He is, throughout most of the movie, shy and restrained because he is also going through the process of becoming a man and all the ideas that go along with that, but you can see his innocent ideals and hopes in his eyes. It is these very eyes that seem to burn with anguish when he has to face the harsh realities of relationships and life and his outburst then becomes all the more heart-rendering. It is a very beautiful and balanced performance by this young actor who was only 15 when the film was shot. Last year, my favourite performance was by a 9 year old girl. You could say that I have a soft spot for child actors, but only because it is astonishing to see someone so young capture all these emotions with such intensity that even grown-ups sometimes can't. Sheridan does such a feat in Mud and though it is probably impossible for him to get proper recognition, what with a super-competitive year like this and the Academy's predilection towards older actors, but one can hope :)

My previous post- Making a Case for Comedy

Thursday 5 December 2013

Making a Case for Comedy

         Stevee Taylor's "Making a Case for" Blogathon has returned, asking us to champion those underrated gems in 2013 films that will have a hard time getting the awards attention they deserve. For my first post, I am going to talk about those actors or films I feel deserve to be considered for at least the Best Comedy/Musical section at the Golden Globes (since the Oscars have no such category because they are all serious old bores over there).

        I am, for one, constantly in awe of the power of comedy and also how easily comedic performances and movies are dismissed by people. One of my most favourite wins of all time has to be The Hangover winning Best Film- Comedy/Musical at the 2010 Golden Globes. Sure, the film spawned two totally unnecessary and annoying sequels, but the original is still one of the funniest films I have ever seen and was completely worthy of the mantle given to it.

        This year, I think there are a couple of performances and movies that I genuinely hope make the cut and here's my case for them-

Emma Watson in The Bling Ring

Quite possibly my favourite purely comic performance of the year. Watson is fabulous as Nicki Moore, the most shallow, spoilt and attention-hungry member of the group of teenagers who went around robbing celebrity houses in order to feel like one. I have a soft spot for actors who immerse themselves into ostentatiously ridiculous roles (see also: Scarlett Johansson in Don Jon and James Franco in Spring Breakers), and Watson is just fantastic playing the ditzy and bimbo-accented Nicki and makes her hilarious in everything she says or does.

Simon Pegg in The World's End

I would rally for a Best Actor Oscar nomination if it would have been a less competitive year. For now, I would love for Mr. Pegg to get recognised at least by the Globes for the truly magnificent job he did with Gary King. It's not easy being as unlikeable a person as King and still make him cool and funny. He's loud and crazy but also lets us see the cracks in the whole persona of Gary King. It is a bloody brilliant performance and it would be the bestest thing ever if he can get some or any awards attention for it. I swear, if he were a bigger star or the film wasn't a comedy per se, he would be getting more recognition.

This is the End and The World's End

2013 has been a good year for apocalyptic movies and none were better than these two comedies that both dealt with the end of days.

This is the End is flat-out the funniest movie I have seen all year. Though the premise sounds insane- a bunch of celebrities stuck in James Franco's house as the apocalypse hits the world, directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg totally pull it off. We have actors like Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, Emma Watson (again!) and so on parodying themselves and there is talk of Judgement Day and demons and there are drugs and an exorcism and a Milky Bar and cannibalism and home movies but it is all freaking hilarious! And then there's the ending which deserves an award all on its own. It was one of the most pleasantly (and by that I mean I was crying out of laughter) surprising movie experiences of my year, and I think a lot of people feel the same way, and therefore it would be great to see an actual super humorous film to get the Best Film- Comedy/Musical award. I would also love to see it get a Best Ensemble nomination at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Coming to The World's End, while it is not as funny as This is the End, I do think it is a smarter film with a lot of important themes that have been moulded incredibly well with all the comedic elements. As I wrote in my review, while on the surface it is a film about getting drunk with old buddies and alien invasions, it is actually about things like nostalgia, acceptance and alcoholism, and only a genius like Edgar Wright could show all that with so much hilarity. Plus, it would be great to see one of the most original trilogies of our time, The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, get rewarded in some way. Because of the amalgamation of its complex ideas, Simon Pegg's performance, all the supporting actors, the amazing action sequences and most importantly in this case, the laughs, I think The World's End is totally deserving of a Best Film- Comedy/Musical nomination.

       More posts coming up. What did you think? Do you agree or disagree with my choices? Why aren't comedies given much awards attention? Please comment below.