Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hurray! Classie movies are here!

Summer cinema is trashy. Mindless. Filth. It corrupts the mind. Of all the junk that was there, I caught up with Age of Ultron and MI5 to realize futility of enjoying mindless crap.  Kingsman - the Secret service, Ant man were more enjoyable but nothing more than a one time watch. Bad Mass was too full of itself.  Sometimes, you just have to fight for good films. Say no to nonsense, be patient,  wait for the right one, the one that will make you sit with elbows on knees, leaning forward in a cinema hall.  Come fall, we have been truly blessed with such a mix. Below is a post of my experiences.

But before I begin, a big shout out to AVClub. I have followed lots of ratings, IMDB, rotten tomatoes,  Slate reviews, Hindu reviews in India, but if there is one source which truly understands my taste, it has to be AVClub. If AVClub rates a movie with A, be it A- or A+, it is truly remarkable. It is the best filter that exists when it comes to choosing (and rejecting) movies.  For TV series, i still find them ok, but when it comes to films, they really get what I expect from cinema - be it a Action flick or a serious drama. Thank you AA Dowd and to the cool gang.

Bridge of Spies.
While watching Bridge of Spies, I was reminded of Saving Private Ryan and The Lives of Others, both films are truly loved by me. The former is understandable, it comes from the same Speilberg and Tom Hanks combination . The latter was driven primarily by Mark Rylance's nuanced performance as Abel which resembles so much with Ulrich Muhe's one.
There is something about Tom Hanks, something in him, which makes him pull off these roles be it the officer in Saving Private Ryan, or captain in Captain Phillips, or this one - this one normal person in an extraordinary circumstance, uses his idealistic principles and street-smartness to turn odds in his favor - to do all that in a manner which is believable, non-preachy, and with integrity is a rare talent that he gets it. Written by Coen brothers and directed by Spielberg, this one definitely makes your hand go up in the end with yay!

The Walk
When I first saw the trailer of Walk based on Phillip Pettit's true story where-in he put a wire between the Twin Towers and walked on it for 30 mins, my first reaction was Why? I have seen Man On Wire, while I do not remember its actual plot, what I do recall is that I loved it and till now, It gives me a feeling of satisfaction to have seen the film, a sense of proud to have done so.
But then the trailer revealed that Joseph Gorden Levitt is playing the character and Robert Zemeckis is directing it, instantly I knew it is in good hands and it has to be seen, and that too in IMAX only.  Zemeckis is a genius with this craft, his Polar Express is a proof of story telling with digital IMAX technology put to a good use together. I will not get into Forrest Gump now, but just the line that once you read the book Gump, you will realize what a leap of imagination it is to take in for that movie.
The Walk is superb. The last 30 mins or captures the essence of walking between those towers with masterful camera-work.  Levitt is awesome, side characters are ok, the background plot development is decent but the movie shines the moment the wire is made taught. People who were sitting next to me in theatre hall had their jaws dropped down for full 20 mins when he was there. Everyone takes a sigh of relief when he comes back to the building.

I went to watch into Sicario purely because of AVClub, and I am so glad about it. Every once i a while that gives you an unexpected story, full of anti-climactic punches but made with a texture that makes you realize that you are being played here. Tarantino did masterly with Pulp Fiction, Kashyap pulled it off with Ugly and there are many more. Many people try to spoof it, which is easier and funny (example - Cabin in the Woods) but to it is incredibly more difficult to pull it off while being in the genre.
Sicario is a crime war movie where the CIA is trying to fix Mexican gang wars, and along the way it hires a hitman (Del Toro) and a police officer (Emily Blunt) to help them.  The soundtrack is chosen aptly to create that sense of "something is coming" and something does come, just that not when you expect it and right when the soundtrack is not there. It just plays with you but it does so in style.

Below are some other flicks that are awesome, just that they were not blogged

Mad Max - The Fury Road
What a movie. An out an out action movie. Again, what a film. Standing ovation. Chase sequences are awesome in films but what if the entire film is a chase sequence. The heart thumping never stops. The emphasis on creating the world is also very appreciable, the costumes, rituals, car designs and the setting is greatly done.  Clearly the best action movie that i have seen in the last decade. Sheer pleasure at the end, big smile. Like a child who has seen action movie and cant stop enacting scenes from it, it just transports you to that mental model. You just want to watch it again, to soak it more, to understand the process behind making it.

Inside Out
Very creative and nicely executed. Often, you get a seed of an idea but it takes some serious reworking to make it into an epiphany and not an epiphanot. Inside Out is a feel good movie with lots of room of creativity and it uses the space available to its full advantage. Movies like Matrix and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind did something similar - established a premise and then took it somewhere else and closed it with a very strong story lines. Inside Out does a great job in establishing the premise, it is okay-ish in the mid-innings but manages to close it up in style. It does so in a way that even children can enjoy it and can relate to it. Animation is very good as well, plus Lewis Black as the voice of anger is perfectly cast. Loved his performance end-to-end.

A marathi film that came to my attention only after it had won the national award. It was playing only in 1 cinema in Blr and that too in just 1 show a day. Yet we went and we are so glad to be able to do it. The story is simple - a mother and son move into a new small town, the boy takes time to make new friends, adjusts to new surroundings and in the process tries to discover himself. I have always maintained that in this world of escapism, if someone just gives us the true depiction of simplicity and good, it just becomes an escapism in itself to enjoy it. Its a throwback to my growing years, to the kid in Masoom. The treat of this film is Pandya who has done an incredible job of breathing life into this film. A lot of things will not work without his character. Music is also very well done, remains in the background largely but comes out in measured amounts but makes its presence feel.


Force Majeure
For those of us who love drama in cinema, just plain drama, no gimmicks, no unnecessary romance, no sugar coating - just a case study of human emotions, how we are, how we act, react and try to live with our decisions, this one is a gem. Barbarian Invasions come to mind as I was watching this one. And so was Woody Allen and Linklater as the husband-wife go about talking their perspectives. And how it unfolds is very well done. In front of a couple at restaurant, in front of their friends, again very anti-climactic and it creates such a tension in the air.  A treat for drama-fans!