My book reading is going slow and steady and as I haven’t read enough to write my second book post of the year, I thought instead of waiting till I complete my first book (the mammoth ‘War and Peace’) I will write about another thing which is dear to my heart – movies So, here is the list of some interesting movies that I saw last month and what I think about them.
(1) Rettai Vaal Kuruvi (Two-tailed Sparrow) – Directed by Balumahendra - Lead Actors and Actresses : Mohan, Archana, Radhika – This is a Tamil movie which came many years back. It is a story of a man who has two wives and loves them both. Intimate and affectionate scenes between Mohan and Archana on one hand and Radhika on the other are portrayed quite well. The plot is weak and takes on a predictable path after sometime.
(2) Transporter (Part 3) – Directed by Oliver Megaton – Lead Actors and Actresses : Jason Statham, Francois Berleand, Natalya Rudakova – I saw the first part of the ‘Transporter’ series before and liked it. It was a movie which didn’t make one think but was fun to watch. It also had an interesting character of a French police inspector played by Francois Berleand, who quoted Marcel Proust. Thought I will watch the third part and see what Francois Berleand says now. The third part was quite average and the premise behind the movie is starting to jade a little bit. Also Hong Kong actress Shu Qi who played the heroine’s role is the first part was way better than Natalya Rudakova. The saving grace is Francois Berleand. He does what is expected of him, and quotes Dostoevsky this time But even there, his quoting of Proust was better
(3) Being There - Directed by Hal Ashby – Lead Actors and Actresses : Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Richard Dysart – Beautiful movie about a gardener who doesn’t know to read and write but who likes watching TV and who gets ejected out of his employer’s home after his employer dies. He accidentally ends up in a millionaire’s house and gets exposed to the high and the mighty and soon becomes famous and the toast of the town. Peter Sellers’ performance as the innocent gardener is wonderful. I liked Shirley MacLaine’s performance too. Film Critic Roger Ebert has rated this as one of the great movies. This is my first ‘good’ movie of the year
(4) Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Directed by Woody Allen – Lead Actresses and Actors : Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz – Woody Allen leaves his imprint in the movie. However out of his recent movies, I liked ‘Scoop’ and ‘Matchpoint’ more. Scarlett Johansson seems to be his favourite actress now. I like Rebecca Hall’s acting and she has done well in this movie too. Liked Javier Bardem’s role in this movie – very different from his role in ‘No Country for Old Men’. The role played by the father of Javier Bardem’s character was also quite nice – he writes poetry but refuses to publish it. Reminded me of Roberto Bolano and Arthur Rimbaud. Penelope Cruz was good in her Oscar winning role.
(5) The Hurt Locker – Directed by Kathryn Bigelow – Lead Actors : Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty – Excellent movie and a potential Oscar winner. Set in Iraq during the American occupation. Jeremy Renner as the team leader of a bomb disposal squad has acted wonderfully. No major women characters in the movie except for a professor’s wife who comes in a scene and Jeremy Renner’s character’s wife who comes at the end for a few minutes. It was interesting to discover that Kathryn Bigelow is the ex-wife of James Cameron. Both of them are competing for the Best Picture Oscar this year. Will be interesting to see what happens during the awards ceremony.
(6) Julie and Julia - Directed by Nora Ephron – Lead Actresses and Actors : Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Chris Messina, Stanley Tucci - Nice movie about food and cooking and life. Loved the concept and the way the movie evokes delicious sensations and the aroma of food. Also liked the way the movie depicted the relationship between Julie and her husband Eric. Meryl Streep is good as Julia Child. It was interesting to see Stanley Tucci in a role different from his usual comic ones.
(7) Doubt - Directed by John Patrick Shanley – Lead Actresses and Actors : Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis – Beautiful story which leaves the viewer with questions in the end. Meryl Streep’s performance is awesome – an amazing contrast when compared to her performance in ‘Julie and Julia’. Such an unbelievable actress! Hoffman is awesome as usual! Amy Adams does well as a junior nun. Viola Davis gives a powerful performance in a one-scene role. Interesting thing about the movie was that all the main actors and actresses were nominated for an Oscar but none of them won. Someone should have – their performances were so good.
(8) Avatar – Directed by James Cameron – Lead Actors and Actresses : Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Laz Alonso, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Stephen Lang – Old story, which is very similar to that of Kevin Costner’s ‘Dances with Wolves’. Some ideas in the movie also seem to be inspired by ‘The Matrix‘. But the depiction of the planet Pandora – the flora, the fauna, the landscape and the people – is really wonderful. The environmental message that the film carries is also nice. I liked the alien heroine very much! I also loved the scene where the hero and a strange animal roar at each other and the animal beats a retreat and the hero thinks he has won the territory fight, but then discovers that there is a bigger and more wilder animal behind him (My friend tells me that even this scene is there in Jurassic Park. James Cameron seems to have been inspired by different things while writing the story for this movie). As a movie with artistic merit, I wouldn’t rate it high (‘Dances with Wolves’ tells a similar story in a more beautiful way), but as a pathbreaker and trendsetter in terms of blending real action with lifelike animation, I would rate it quite high. Must see movie.
(9) Finding Neverland – Directed by Mark Foster – Lead Actors and Actresses : Kate Winslet, Johnny Depp, Julie Christie, Radha Mitchell, Dustin Hoffman – Nice movie which has one of my favourite actresses Kate Winslet. Movie depicts the life of J.M.Barrie, who wrote ‘Peter Pan’ and his inspiration behind it and his platonic love for Sylvia Llewellyn Davis. Liked the roles played by Johnny Depp (as J.M.Barrie) and Kate Winslet (as Sylvia Davis) very much.
(10) The Blind Side - Directed by John Lee Hancock – Lead Actresses and Actors : Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw, Kathy Bates, Lily Collins, Jae Head – Interesting movie. But I found the topic a bit cliched. Sandra Bullock is good but this is not my favourite movie of hers. I liked her performance more in ‘Crash’ and in ‘While You Were Sleeping’. Among sports movies I saw recently, I liked ‘Pride’ more. Sandra Bullock has been nominated for an Oscar for her performance in this movie – I think her role is a ‘feel-good’ one but not really an Oscar winning one. But looking at the way the Academy has given awards recently, I wouldn’t be surprised if she wins the Oscar.
(11) A Very Long Engagement - Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet – Lead Actresses and Actors : Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Jean-Pierre Becker, Jodie Foster, Marion Cotillard – Good movie. Love Audrey Tautou’s performances and so enjoyed this movie of hers too. French movies have this light-hearted and humorous way of telling a serious story and sometimes the sadness too is there in the humour. This movie has all that. Saw Jodie Foster in a movie after a long time. I thought it was her, but wasn’t sure, because I haven’t seen American actresses acting in movies in other languages and so checked the credits in the end and discovered that it was indeed her. It was nice to see Jodie Foster speak in French and see her doing it well too.
(12) Atonement – Directed by Joe Wright - Lead Actresses and Actors : Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave – Beautiful movie with a sad ending, which is based on Ian McEwan’s novel. Nominated for the Oscars in 2008. It is a shame that it didn’t win the Best Picture Award (‘No Country for Old Men‘ did). I have seen Keira Knightley only in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ before – she acts quite well too, in addition to being beautiful. Saoirse Ronan does quite well as Briony. My favourite scene is when Briony, when she is a nurse, talks to a soldier in French and comforts him, when he is close to his final moments. I haven’t read Ian McEwan’s books before, but going by the evidence of this movie, I think he must be quite an interesting writer. Will try to get my hand on some of his books.