Wednesday, 29 May 2013

''Minority Report'' and ''A Walk in the Clouds''- Short reviews

Minority Report (2002 movie)

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Released: 2002
Country: United States

Genres: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Mystery, Action

Starring: Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Steven Harris, Kathryn Morris, Peter Stormare, Mike Binder

Rating: 4 out of 5

Short review: Steven Spielberg's Minority Report is set in a future where murders can be detected before they are committed, and as a result, it can be said be said that murders have almost stopped. The year is 2054. John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is the chief of the PreCrime police force. The murder to be commited, the victims, and the murderers, are foreseen by three precogs, who are actually humans who are in charge of detecting the future crimes. John Anderton, the chief, has a painful past; his son had apparently been kidnapped several years ago, which made him join the police force. Something very odd happens: the Precogs detect that Anderton will murder somebody named Leo Crow. Anderton is shocked: he has never even heard about anyone named Leo Crow. He thinks he is being set up in this, and runs away and hides, attempting to find a solution. He comes to know that sometimes the three Precogs differ in their foreseeing the future; and the ''minority report'' is the alternate future about what the murderer would do. And... Anderton set off to find his minority report--- a task too dangerous...

Spielberg is, as usual, brilliant in his direction. The story and conception are very good, and overall this is a very good film. I enjoyed it. Technically, it was well made, with dark cinematography and excellent visuals, and the performances of Tom Cruise, Colin Farrel, Samantha Morton and Max von Sydow are top-notch.

4 out of 5

A Walk in the Clouds (1995 movie)

Directed by: Alfonso Arau
Released: 1995
Country: United States, Mexico

Main cast: Keanu Reeves, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Giancarlo Giannini, Anthony Quinn, Angélica Aragón

Genres: Romantic drama

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Visually, ''A Walk in the Clouds'' is a beautiful film. The bright cinematography, dimly lit warm scenes, and the wonderful, orange, red sunlight reflected on the scenes--- absolutely make the film a beautiful one, a real treat for the eyes! As a love story, however, it is only a little more than mediocre- but the visual beauty and the overall sweet screenplay makes this film worth watching. 
Sgt. Paul Sutton (Keanu Reeves) returns to his home, the war having ended. He has a pretty wife, Betty, played by Debra Messing. He is a chocolate seller, starts a journey on train, in order to earn a living. On the train, he meets Victoria Aragon, and after some confusion causes their tickets to swap, he finds himself on a bus with Victoria, who is going to her hometown. After some incidences which make him and Victoria very friendly to each other, Victoria reveals that she is afraid that her father will kill her. And that's because she, after an affair with her Professor, is pregnant, and her father has promised to kill the person who would disgrace his family. He means what he says. Always. Paul suggests that he would pose as her husband for a short time. Though Victoria's father wouldn't accept it easily that her daughter has married an American man (Victoria's family is Mexican) without his permission, it would be better than to inform him that Victoria is pregnant without being married. As expected, Victoria's father doesn't really accept Paul, though the other members of the family receive him warmly. But--- as you may predict, Victoria and Paul will fall in love, but Paul has a wife already, and how long will the two (Victoria and Paul) conceal from her family the fact that they are not even married?

The story is simple, and the screenplay, dialogues, are just good. But the visual beauty and cinematography (described before) makes the film a treat; it may not be excellent, but quite worth watching!

3.5 out of 5

Sunday, 26 May 2013

''The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'' (2008 movie)- Review

Directed by: David Fincher
Released: 2008
Country: United States

Main cast: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Julia Ormond, Jason Flemyng, Tilda Swinton

Genres: Fantasy, Romantic drama

Rating: 4 out of 5


David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a beautiful film, a film to easily fall in love with. It is beautiful and simple, sweet and touching. The 2 and half hour long epic fantasy was as captivating as it can be imagined; I wasn't bored, rather, I was completely immersed into the film.

''The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'' starts as an extremely old woman, in her hospital bed, asks her daughter to read to her from a diary. The diary apparently belonged to someone named Benjamin Button. The daughter reads, and then we see the whole life of Benjamin Button in front of our eyes...

Benjamin Button was different. When he was born, he was naturally an infant, but his body completely like that of an old man!

His mother died during childbirth. Benjamin's father leaves him in a nursing home. A worker of the nursing home, Queenie (Taraji P. Henson), starts caring for him like her own son.

Something amazing is going on. Benjamin ages backward. As he starts growing up, instead of getting older, he starts getting younger! He had been born with the body of an old man, and as he grows up, he just gets physically younger. 

And he meets the love of his life, Daisy (Cate Blanchett), whom he had known ever since they were children, but the sorrounding circumstances often impact their relationship in various way...

This was a beautiful, sweet film.  The conception was excellent, and the presentation was great. The visual beauty of this film cannot be denied. The film had great cinematography. Also, the sweet background scores were amazing. The makeup was great.

The performances were great as well.  Brad Pitt, as Benjamin Button, is really excellent. The beautiful Cate Blanchett is amazing... Tilda Swinton was present for a short time but she, too, gave an amazing performance.

Beautiful cinematography, beautiful screenplay, great visuals, great performances- that's all that makes ''The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'' a wonderful movie.

4 out of 5 

Friday, 24 May 2013

''The Graduate'' (1967 movie)- Review

Directed by: Mike Nichols
Released: 1967
Country: United States

Genres: Comedy-Drama, Coming-of-age, Romance

Main cast: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katherine Ross, Murray Hamilton, William Daniels, Elizabeth Wilson

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Mike Nichols's The Graduate, based on the novel by Charles Webb, is just delightful! It is a light film and leaves a big smile in the face. The Graduate is funny, deals with a bizarre and hilarious story, well-written and acted, and supported by some amazing songs (all of which I just adored!).

The Graduate is about the recent college graduate Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman). After he graduates, his father arranges a big party in his house. But Benjamin is not much delighted after hearing the innumerable congratulations; he is worried about what to do with his life. Enter Mrs Robinson, the wife of Benjamin's father's law partner. Mrs Robinson, played by Anne Bancroft, requests Benjamin to drive her home. Benjamin reluctantly does. But after reaching her house, Mrs Robinson asks him to come in, and starts behaving in such a way that makes it seem that she is wanting to seduce him. The hesitant Benjamin reluctantly agrees to her vampish invitations, and the two start an affair.

Katherine Ross and Dustin Hoffman in ''The Graduate''

But then enters Mrs Robinson's daughter, Elaine (Katherine Ross). His parents urge him to take Elaine to a date, and despite Mrs Robinson's continuous protests, Benjamin does so. And eventually he finds himself falling in love with Elaine. They fall in true love, but then there is Benjamin's affair with Elaine's mother that becomes a dark shadow over Elaine and Benjamin's relationship.

This film was hilarious and humorous! I loved it! The screenplay, adapted by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry from the novel of the same name by Charles Webb, is simply great! The dialogues are amazing; the comedic situations are built up well. Anne Bancroft, who perhaps gives the best performance in this film, is great as the vampish, alcoholic middle-aged woman. Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin gives a wonderful performance. And Katherine Ross--- she's just amazing as Elaine, the Robinsons' daughter who falls in love with Ben. I liked her acting. Especially in the scenes where Elaine and Benjamin go on their first date, Ross was great, and when she broke into tears because Benjamin was behaving rudely with her, she made the scene extremely sad as well.

This was a fast-paced film, humorous and delightful, lovely and comedic, and I would highly recommend it!

4.5 out of 5

Thursday, 23 May 2013

''Amour'' (2012 movie)- Review

Directed by: Michael Haneke
Released: 2012
Country: Austria, France, Germany

Genres: Drama

Main cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, Alaxandre Tharaud

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Amour is a hauntingly beautiful film. It is emotionally intense and reflects a reality- about the misery that comes in old age, and how love always remains the same, in spite of the miseries and sufferings that attack people. The film reflects the fact that we feel terrible when we see a loved person suffer in a terrible way, and we do all we can to protect them, to try to return to them the happiness that they deserve, the happiness that they once had, even knowing that perhaps these efforts will someday not work anymore. This is a film reflecting the sufferings, and the terrible things that we face in our old age.
 The film brought tears to my eyes. It is a lovely film, beautiful and emotional.

The two leads- Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, give powerful performances, and they are supported by the wonderful Isabelle Huppert.

Georges and his wife Anne are both in their eighties. Despite of being so aged, they still deeply love each other and it can be said that they live a happy life. But however, one morning, Georges notices that Anne is not responding to anything, but after a while, she is all right once again. After a surgery, her right side becomes paralyzed, and she has to depend on a wheelchair for movements. Eventually her condition starts deteriorating. She does not want to go to a hospital or a care home.

Georges takes care of Anne himself. Though he is himself so aged, he takes care of Anne all by himself (with a little help from a doctor and nurses and a neighbor). Their daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert), repeatedly requests Georges to put Anne in a nursing home or a hospital. But Georges does not listen to her. He nurses Anne all by himself. But some day, this will all end--- decades of love, decades of shared smiles and happiness, will end one day...

The film is very intense--- and much of the applauds go to Jean-Louis Trintignant (as Georges) and Emmanuelle Riva (as Anne)  for bringing their characters to life, bringing the intensity of the screenplay to life.  The incidences shown in the film are themselves so heartbreaking- Georges is also elderly; he is also weak, but he will not give up, he will not put his dear wife solely under the care of doctors. Despite his old age, he nurses his wife sweetly, tells her stories, feeds her... He knows very well that one day it will all be over. And that's what makes everything so sad. The film not only shows us the miseries of life, but it is also a portrait of what can happen in old age.

In this film, we see two elderly people completely dependent on each other. If something so horrible happens to one of them, how can the other person survive without the love which he has received for decades? Amour is a heartbreaking film, has a sad and moving story, and I would absolutely recommend it.


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Street Food Cinema opening night; Outdoor movie event of the 1986 film Stand by Me

Street Food Cinema opening night is starting off the season with an 80’s classic – Stand by Me! Stand by Me the 1986 American classic “coming of age” drama film about four young friends who set out on an adventure.

Come enjoy the ultimate outdoor event destination including movies, music, food trucks and more this summer in Los Angeles. Street Food Cinema is brining the 80’s to you including special guest Stand by Me actor Corey Feldman. 

Date: May 25th 2013
Movie: Stand by Me
Location: Exposition Park 700 Exposition Park Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90037
Food: Food Trucks
Band: Corey Feldman
Parking: $10 Lot Parking
Tickets: $10 General Admission. $15 Reserved Seating. Children (6-12)$5. Children 5 and under Free. Four Pack (4 Tickets) $32.

Visit the website: Street Food Cinema

Thursday, 16 May 2013

A brief note

Hello! I know I have not been posting for a while; regular updates will continue from May 23, 2013 (vacation starts from May 23!). I'll review lots of movies during my holidays, I hope. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

''Being Julia'' (2004 movie)- Review

Directed by: István Szabó
Released: 2004
Country: Canada, United States

Genres: Comedy-Drama

Main cast: Annette Bening, Jeremy Irons, Shaun Evans, Lucy Punch, Juliet Stevenson, Miriam Margolyes, Tom Sturridge, Rosemary Harris, Rita Tushingham, Michael Gambon

Rating: 4 out of 5


The titular character of Being Julia, played by the elegant Annette Bening, is as excellently written as it is performed by Bening, and it is a combination of both the crafting of the character and the performance of Bening that makes the character so memorable and the film so magnificent. The protagonist, Julia, is the heart of  István Szabó's Being Julia; this unique character is extremely memorable and can be described with a variety of adjectives: sweet, amiable, talented, famous, lovely, and, of course, foxy.

Julia is sweet. Among the above adjectives, all suit her properly, except perhaps ''foxy''. The character is sly, but that is, in fact, sweetly sly. She is a celebrity, a famous theater personality, on whom many young men have crushes. A young man seems to be obsessed with her. And she falls in love with the young man. And then, she finds out that the man is not what he seems. Instead, he is a cunning person who is just using her. And then, she uses her intelligence and wit to take a magnificent revenge.

Julia Lambert (Annette Bening) is a successful stage actress, famous and respected all around. In her early 40s, she and her husband Michael (Jeremy Irons), are not quite in love. She meets Tom (Shaun Evans), a man who seems to be a great fan of hers. And then she becomes obsessed with Tom. She loves him deeply, though he is much, much younger than her.  And then she comes to know that he does not, in fact, care for her as deeply. And in course of time, she understands that he, in fact, loves the ambitious actress Avice Crichton (Lucy Punch), and is just using the power of Julia to make Avice have a successful career on stage.

Initially heartbroken, Julia, however, then plans up a magnificent revenge upon those people for whom she feels she was wronged, who brought tears to her eyes. Avice Crichton, meanwhile, will be acting with her on a play. And on the night when the performance of the play will be held, a great surprise awaits for all.

Being Julia provides smart and effective entertainment. As I mentioned previously, the titular character is, without a doubt, one of the most impressive aspects of the film. Annette Bening gives us an excellent performance; a truly great performance, that, along with the sublimity of the screenplay, gives an excellent heart to the novel. While the character can be sad, cheerful, melodramatic, lovely, loverly, it can also, as the story goes on to tell us, be clever and sly to achieve what she deserves.

The situation is also built up quite well. The graceful cinematography cannot be forgotten easily. The beautiful cinematography can be easily understood by examining some of the scenes of the film. For instance, the scene where Julia and her friend Lord Charles (Bruce Greenwood) walk on the bridge. The proximity of the camera to the two characters' face, and also, the style of the cinematography in this scene, is utterly beautiful.

Other things, for example, the ghostly presence of the dead Jimmie Langton (Michael Gambon), who always advises Julia what to do, gets disappointed when she does something silly, and appreciates when she is successful, is quite memorable. 

Of course, the supporting cast is also quite great. Jeremy Irons as Michael, Julia's husband, gives an effective performance. Shaun Evans (as Tom) and Lucy Punch (as Avice) also give memorable performance. More remarkably Lucy Punch, of course. Without her superb performance, the film would have lost much of it's entertaining part (especially in the scene of the opening of the play, both Bening and Punch gave tremendously effective and hilarious performances). As Julia's son, Tom Sturridge is quite good. Others, such as Juliet Stevenson, are good as well!

And lastly- such a magnificent, such a wonderful film! It is cheerful, witty, sometimes melodramatic, and finally, a very good movie. It brought a big smile to my face!

4 out of 5!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

''Just Beyond That Forest'' ''The Impossible'' and ''The Host''- Reviews

Just Beyond That Forest (1991 movie)

Directed by: Jan Lomnicki
Released: 1991
Country: Poland

Genres: War drama

Rating: 3 out out of 5


I was quite interested about this film after reading the summary, thinking if it is not great, at least it would be a satisfying and emotional experience. Bu
t this film was not what I had expected. It was not as good as I had thought it would be. It had it's moments, but had several drawbacks as well. The story is about an Aryan woman, Kuglawcova, who once used to work as a washerwoman for the Sterns, a Jewish family. In 1942, Mrs Stern calls her to Warsaw Ghetto, and requests her to take her daughter, Rutka, to a safe residence with a Christian family. Though she initially argues, later she agrees when Mrs Stern gives her expensive dresses and jewelries. Rutka poses as Kuglawcova's granddaughter, and together they start their journey. Kuglawcova's feelings towards Rutka soon becomes deeper; they form a warm and intimate friendship, and amidst the danger of being caught by Gestapos, they walk amidst the forests, with the goal of safely reaching the place they are heading towards, and now Kuglawcova is even prepared to risk her life for the girl.

The story and concept is good, but the screenplay and presentation wasn't as good as I had expected. The beginning and the early parts, were quite good, and it kept me interested in the film. But however, then it had a lot of problems. For example, the length. Despite building up an interesting situation, the short length actually prevented the film from becoming something really good and deep. It could have been much, much better. Also, the conclusion leaves a lot of questions. If only it had been slightly deeper with a better screenplay, it would have been far more memorable.

But however, what it has is quite powerful. And it didn't bore me or made me think it a
 terrible movie. It was an average film, and had the potentiality to be more, much more better.

 The Impossible (2012 movie)

Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona
Released: 2012
Country: Spain

Genres: Drama, History

Main cast: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast

Rating: 4 out of 5


Juan Antonio Bayona's ''The Impossible'' is a vividly disturbing, effective, and realistic film, and it's surely one of the best films of 2012. The story, set in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, gives us a vivid portrait about the tragedies and horrors that can happen as a result of such natural disasters.

The story centers around a family who have come on a vacation to Thailand, and fall victims to the tsunami. The mother, Maria (played by Naomi Watts, the character is based on María Belón) and her oldest son Lucas (Tom Holland) manage to survive, and are soon escorted to a hospital. Unknown to them, the father, Henry (Ewan McGregor) and the younger sons, Thomas and Simon, have also survived, and Henry is desperately searching for Lucas and Maria. The family is separated, but their emotional bondage stands powerful against the horrors of the outcomes of the tsunami. Will they be reunited?

The film gives us a picture of the horrific outcomes of natural disasters like the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Along with this, the emotional unity of the family shown in this film is beautiful. How families can be so terribly impacted by these terrible natural disasters like this, is skilfully portrayed in this film. The screenplay is extremely powerful, and the performances are excellent. Naomi Watts, for example, is excellent (she always is, such a talented actress). Ewan McGregor, whom I first saw in Tim Burton's Big Fish, is excellent. More mentionably, young Tom Holland gives a terrific performance.

Overall The Impossible is an excellent film, giving us a vivid portrait of the terrible outcomes of such natural disasters; it is a very skilfully made film.

The Host (2013 movie)

 Directed by: Andrew Niccol
 Released: 2013
 Country: United States

Main cast: Saoirse Ronan, Jake Abel, Max Irons, Chandler Canterbury, Frances Fisher, Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Boyd Holbrook, Scott Lawrence, Emily Browning

Genres: Sci-Fi, Romantic-drama, Adventure, Action

Rating: 2 out of 5


The Host was one of the 2013 films that I had been eagerly waiting to watch. I had loved the original novel written by Stephenie Meyer. I don't like Twilight, but I simply loved the novel The Host. But I must say that the 2013 film adaptation disappointed me. Really disappointed me. Now, I try never to judge a film according to the original novel or story or play. If I do that, it would be judging the film as an adaptation, not the overall film itself. But I must say that The Host is disappointing not only as an adaptation, but also as a film itself.

The Host is a weak film, first of all. First I would discuss the storyline (which is great; but it just wasn't presented nicely). Set in a future, the earth has been invaded by an alien species, called ''Souls''. They are parasitic aliens, and they are inserted in a human host. Human race is nearly extinct (as their bodies have been occupied by the souls), and the few surviving humans are in hiding.

A human, Melanie Stryder (played by Saoirse Ronan) is captured, and a soul, Wanderer, is inserted into her body. Wanderer finds out that her host is resisting; that the host still exists. The Seeker (Diane Kruger) wants Wanderer to go through the memory of the human body, and give her information about the hiding humans. But however, Wanderer has grown to love the humans in Melanie's memory: Melanie's lover, Jared, and her brother, Jamie. So, she, with the help of Melanie, sets out to search for Jared and Jamie. She finally reaches the hiding place, where many other humans besides Jamie and Jared are hiding as well. But none trusts Wanderer, nobody believes that Melanie is still with her. Meanwhile, Wanderer falls in love with Ian, one of the hiding humans. Jared and Melanie, on the other hand, deeply love each other. What will happen? On the other hand, the Seeker is searching for Wanderer and the humans... Wanderer's innocent presence sadly poses a threat to the humans.
I love the storyline. I loved the original novel. I loved the depth. But however, the screenplay of this adaptation was just not okay. It had little depth in it. Melanie's loud voice in Wanderer's head made thing unintentionally funny. The voice was supposed to be somewhat different; not funny at least! Saoirse Ronan, one of my favorite actresses, gives a good performance, but the problem is, her character is not well-written. No character is well-written, to tell the truth. Almost none of the scenes have the depth to make it a good film. The love triangle has none of the depth and sweetness found in the original novel. The effects and cinematography, on the other hand, are quite good.  

That doesn't mean it was a terrible movie. The Host had it's moments; at least, they were not cliched like Twilight. The Host did have some effectively emotional moments, for example, the last few scenes. Finally, for those who haven't read the novel, this film might seem slow and boring and ridiculous; on the other hand, those who read the novel (and loved it) will find this film to be disappointing. On the whole, it's a not a recommended film.


Saturday, 4 May 2013

''Ordinary People'' (1980 movie)- Review

Directed by: Robert Redford
Released: 1980
Country: United States

Stars: Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Timothy Hutton, Judd Hirsch, Elizabeth McGovern, M. Emmet Walsh, Dinah Manoff

Genres: Drama

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Ordinary People, Robert Redford's directorial debut, deals with a family who is having troubles in restarting and renewing a good relationship, after the death of one of it's members. It's a calmly intense film that moved me, and impressed me... it made me look at the screen and have an emotional journey along with the characters. A thoughtful, melancholy, yet a feel-good film, once I watched it, I liked it, a lot. 

After the death of a son, Bucky, upper middle class parents Calvin (Donald Sutherland) and Beth (Mary Tyler Moore) and their other son Conrad (Timothy Hutton) are having a hard time. Beth is getting distant from both Calvin and Conrad. Conrad somewhat blames himself for the death of Bucky. Conrad attempted suicide, and spent some months at a psychiatric hospital. Now he feels that people are drifting away from him, his world has become something melancholy and sad, and his mother is becoming more distant. His father, Calvin, is always a kind and compassionate person, and advises Conrad to see psychiatrist Dr Berger. He agrees, and has both problematic and refreshing times with the doctor. Meanwhile, his swimming lessons are also giving him a hard time. What will he do now? The world seems now melancholy to all three members of the family...

Basically, the film tells us a sad story about the three members of this family, about how the death of the family's older son have affected them all. The story doesn't have a problem in it, and if it has, there is no solution in it. But yes, it makes some advances towards a solution, and the ending does hint that everything may not get fine, but still, there may be improvements on the relations between the family members, that their can still be hope.

The screenplay, adapted from a novel by Judith Guest, is calm yet emotionally overwhelming. The scene where Dr Berger assures Conrad that he is his friend, almost made tears coming to my eyes. The cinematography is beautiful. The opening is also nice; the film starts showing us natural beauty of woods, trees, leaves, water. This natural beauty is seen throughout the film, adding a sublime beauty to the overall looks. 

The performances are very powerful. First of all, there is the handsome Donald Sutherland as the father, a calm, quiet man who is quite worried about the distance that the members of his family are developing. Timothy Hutton, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role, becoming the youngest actor ever to win in this category, gives a superb performance, bringing the emotional aspects of the character to life. Mary Tyler Moore, as the distant mother, is, in a word, perfect. Then there is Judd Hirsch, as Dr Berger, giving another very memorable performance.

It will not become one of my favorite films, but I liked this film, a lot, and would highly recommend it. It's an emotionally intense and calm, overwhelming... great film.

4.5 out of 5