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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

End of June viewings

Near the end of month, I came across quite a few Shaw Brothers movies. Yes it was a time to return to those classics which have shaped modern Hong Kong Kung-Fu and even Tarantino movies.

1) The Lady Professional (directed by Akinori Matsuo): Rating 7/10

Ge Tianli (played by Lily Ho) is a café owner by day and an assassin by night. On one of her assignments she is recognized, and instead of turning her over to the police, the man decides to blackmail her on a monthly basis. One day, the blackmailer proposes a way out for Ge Tinali. In order to be free, Ge Tianli has to kill a police protected witness (a former gangster). When she kills her target, Ge Tianli escapes from her sabotaged car meant to make her death look like an accident. From then on, she goes after the people who tried to kill her.

2) The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978 movie directed by Chia-Liang Liu): Rating 9/10

Vintage shaolin kung-fu movie! A man wants to learn the shaolin way to save his fellow people from oppression. She he sneaks into the shaolin temple and pleads with the monks to provide him the secrets of shaolin. What follows is the core of the movie – the intense kung fu training, the Buddhist discipline, etc are just brilliant to watch. It is easy to see how this movie has influenced decades of kung fu movies. And the meaning of the movie title – there are only 35 chambers of Shaolin training. But the new apprentice wants to create a 36th chamber which the average layman can learn without having to undergo years of training.

3) The One-Armed Swordsman (1967 movie directed by Cheh Chang): Rating 7/10

A treat! As aspiring swordsman apprentice loses his right arm with his teacher’s daughter cuts it off in a bout of anger. He leaves everything behind to lead a simple life in the village. In the village, he is taken care by a woman who encourages him to use his disability as his advantage. And the one armed swordsman is born.

4) My Young Auntie (1981 movie directed by Chia-Liang Liu): Rating 7/10

A comical kung fu movie! An aging old man is worried that his estate will be taken over by greedy men (3rd cousins) as he has no heirs. So the man proposes a marriage his servant’s daughter so that she can inherit his money and pass it on his 4th cousin. The servant’s daughter is very young and hence the title – she is the young auntie for the 4th cousin. The 4th cousin along with the young auntie have to fend off the 3rd cousin who is upset at not getting any of the property/estate.

Assorted Foreign Movies:

1) Copacabana (2001 movie directed by Carla Camurati): Rating 6.5/10

A different side of Brazil is shown in this movie – the elderly people of Brazil are showcased for a change. Moments before his death, 90 year old Alberto recalls the tender moments of his life and that of the Copacabana beach. The movie moves back and forth in time from the present to the past. Alberto drifts on the sidewalks of the beach talking and chatting with his friends, all of whom have their own stories. The movie shows the elderly people of Brazil and their life. Hardly a single young person is seen strutting along the beach. However, the biggest problem is that all these stories are told in a rather dull manner which causes the viewer to lose interest. A positive aspect is the catchy title song, which lingers in one’s mind long after the movie is over.

2) Border Line (2002 movie directed by Sang-il Lee): Rating 7/10

A tale of interleaving stories set against the backdrop of a changing urban Japan. A young teenager is struck by a taxi cab. The Taxi driver is drunk and quite a colorful person. He assumes responsibility for the teenage and plans to drive the kid home. The only snag is that the boy’s home is miles and miles away. So the taxi driver and the boy head on a road trip. Another story is of a business man who has his money stolen by his partner and close friend. The business man has connections to the Yakuza and needs to get the money back. The third story is about a housewife whose husband has left her and a young son because he was fired from his job and can’t face the humiliation of bring unemployed. The housewife has to work extra shifts just to make ends meet. These three stories intersect in a slow paced movie. If the movie was shortened from its 2 hour length to maybe 90 minutes, it would have been far more interesting.

Worth a watch though.

3) Fate Come Noi (Just Do It, 2001 movie directed by Francesco Apolloni): Rating 6/10

A very average movie which feels more suited for television rather than cinema. A pair of friends kill time in the summer talking about soccer, women and basically driving around Rome. One of the boys develops a friendship with a young girl and she teaches him a thing or two about life – for example, she teaches him the benefits of reading literature.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The story starts again and that is a good thing.

Two very different movies turned out to be gems – one a Hollywood summer movie, and the other a small budget Canadian flick.

1) Batman Begins (Directed by Christopher Nolan): Rating 10/10

WOW. Amazing! I have to admit, I was bowled over. I didn’t have too many expectations before hand but this one is just perfect. Nolan who hit it big back in 2000 with Memeto, a small budget movie with only a handful of actors, has assembled a collection of major stars and has used each actor appropriately. Christian Bale is perfectly cast as Batman/Bruce Wayne and really brings the role alive. When he dons the bat suit, he does sound a bit like Michael Keaton (original Batman) but he lets his anger resonant through. Then there’s Michael Caine (Alfred), Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson (what a role), Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon), Tom Wilkinson and Ken Watanabe. To his credit, Nolan also manages to extract a solid performance out of Katie Holmes who plays a District Attorney and Batman’s love interest.

The movie shows aspects of Batman’s lives that other movies have never touched upon – his fear of bats, how Bruce Wayne overcame his fear, how the Wayne family made its fortune, etc. Now, there have been some different interpretations made about the story but they all fit perfectly in the movie. For example, the movie starts off with Bruce Wayne hiding in a Far Eastern Prison camp. He is there by choice – he wants to study the criminal mind and so he wandered from Asian country to country to find his answers. These are story topics only addressed in the later version of the Batman comics.

Overall, the movie shows the darkness that is Gotham. Once again, WOW!

2) The Dark Hours (Directed by Paul Fox): Rating 9/10

An excellent Canadian thriller! The majority of the movie takes place in an isolated cabin located in the middle of snow land. We get to see a version of the truth, but in reality, the story is not as it seems. Is it real? Is it fake memory? The movie is edited very well and manages to splice enough clues along. But the end is very open ended but leaves the entire movie open for interpretation. Hopefully, this movie gets the attention it deserves.

Also some Hollywood movies to pass along as well!

3) In Good Company (Directed by Paul Weitz): Rating 8/10

Only in today’s North American corporate age can you have a 26 year with no practical experience become the boss of a 51 year old with decades of experience. The Weitz brothers tackle the topic of modern evil corporate companies in this light hearted romantic comedy. The Weitz brothers have been evolving with each movie. They started back in 1999 with the hilarious American Pie, a movie about young horny teenagers. Then they switched gears to portray the live of a single male in About a Boy. Now they tackle the life of a married man (Dennis Quaid) who has a teenager daughter (Scarlett Johansson). The only negative for this movie is that is a bit long.

4) After the Sunset (Directed by Brett Ratner): Rating 5/10

This is a terribly boring movie with too many script loop holes. Pierce Brosnan is playing the same role as he did in the Thomas Crown Affair. The only difference is that instead of robbing paintings for fun, he robs diamonds. Salma Hayek struts around wearing skimpy clothes and gets annoying after a while. Woody Harrelson tries to play the smart-ass cop but he does such a poor job of it (Denis Leary did a great job with this role in Thomas Crown). And Don Cheadle is there just to make up the numbers. The only positive is the charming accent of Naomie Harris who plays the local island cop.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

La Cinema: Film festivals and Assorted flicks

The annual Waterton French Film festival had an interesting line up. On tap was Tony Gatlif’s excellent Exiles, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s A Very Long Engagement, the 2005 oscar nominated Chorus and a collection of Quebec movies. I was only able to watch two Quebec movies but they both turned out to be excellent choices.

1) Memories Affectives (Directed by Francis Leclerc): Rating 9/10

Another alternate title for this movie is ‘Looking for Alexander’. This movie won three major awards at the 2005 Canadian movie awards and rightly so. It is a very well done movie. Roy Dupuis plays Alexandre Tourneur, a man who suddenly awakens from a long term coma. Tourneur is declared physically dead and when someone pulls the plug on his life support system, it suddenly brings him back to life. He has no idea who he is or anything about his past. His wife, who was on the verge of leaving him, suddenly changes her mind and starts feeding false memories to her husband. Tourneur’s daughter has another version for her father and he tries to believe her version of their relationship as well. In the meantime, a police inspector is trying to investigate the incident which led to Tourneur’s accidental coma. As Tourneur tries to piece his life together, he finds out some very interesting things about this past. The best part of the movie is that we arrive to the conclusion at the same time as Tourneur does. And not everything is answered in the end, we actually have to figure some things out for ourself.

An excellent movie and the best part, it is MADE in Canada.

2) Camping Sauvage (Directed by Andre Ducharme, Guy Lepage, Sylvain Roy): Rating 8/10

Guy Lepage was in attendance to present this movie. This is a movie packed with typical Quebecois humour and that means it might not go down too well with everyone. So either one will love this movie or find it pointless. I for one, loved it.

Pierre-Louis (Guy Lepage) plays a strict by the rules stock broker who can never resist correcting someone’s grammar or proper French pronunciation. One day he witnesses a hit and run accident – a hummer runs over a pedestrian and drives off. Pierre-Louis immediately calls the police on his cell phone. As it turns out his anonymous call to the police is not so anonymous. The arrested hit-and-run person finds out who put him in jail and goes out looking for revenge. Pierre-Louis’s car is blown up and well that strikes fear in him. The police offer to give him a different identity as part of their witness protection program. In his disguise, Pierre-Louis is sent to live in a trailer park. But the trailer park is no ordinary place either. A series of hilarious characters live there and well, Pierre-Louis is not very safe. The park is located next to a biker gang hideout and the hit-and-run perpetrator was the head of a biker gang himself.

Documentaries:

1) Based on a True Story (International doc directed by Walter Stokman):

Rating: 7/10

This is a directory made about the real incident which inspired the 1975 movie, Dog Day Afternoon. The Sidney Lumet directed movie starred Al Pacino Sonny ‘Dog’ Wortzik, a man who had robbed a bank to pay for his lover’s sex change operation. The entire bank robbery turned into a 12-14 hour hostage crisis and a media fiasco. But was the Hollywood version the true story? This is the question that Dutch film-maker Walter Stokman set out to answer when he wanted to make his movie. However, Stokman’s task is made difficult because the real Sonny is not easy to work with. Sonny wants a lot of money for his version of the truth and he threatens and even abuses Stokman along the process. Stokman pieces an interesting movie with clips from the Hollywood flick, real media footage of the incident, Sonny’s phone calls talking of the incident and interviews with some of the hostages/police officers involved.

2) Janela Da Alma (English Translation, Window of the soul): Rating 7/10

Joao Jardim and Walter Carvalho have made a very off beat documentary which tries to ask and answer questions about reality, perception, images, and along the way leave the viewer with more questions and some eye opening views. There are interviews with a very learned group of people: Jose Saramago offers his views about reality and how he was inspired to write his famous novel, ‘Blindness’; Film-makers Wim Wenders and Agnes Varda are also interviewed extensively.

Foreign Flicks:

1) The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972 movie directed by Luis Bunuel):

Rating 7/10

A movie about nothing. Ok, not really. A movie about dreams and fantasies and nothing else. A set of friends want to have a dinner party but for one reason or another all their attempts at dinner are thwarted by them waking up from a dream or having their dinner interrupted by an incident involving death. After some time, it is quite easy for the viewer to figure out which sequence is a dream, which is a fantasy and what is ‘real’. Along the way are elements from other Bunuel movies – the hint of terrorism lurking around every corner, characters playing multiple roles and changing identities. It is a fairly interesting movie.

2) Contempt (1963 movie directed by Jean-Luc Godard): Rating 7/10

A very talented cast grace this movie – Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance, Fritz Lang to name just a few. Loosely based on Albert Moravia’s book, it is an abstract movie which is to be enjoyed on a warm summer day. I didn’t totally enjoy every frame but it was worth seeing.

Hollywood:

1) Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Rating 7.5/10

Angelina Jolie steals this movie, whereas Brad Pitt recycles his character from Ocean’s 11 and The Mexican. The dialogue is interesting along with the story line -- two spies married to each other yet are unaware of each other’s identities. What sinks this movie is the last 20 minutes of action. Ofcourse, since it is a summer movie, action is a requirement. But if all that action was stripped away, it would be a much better movie. Alternatively, if all the dialogue was taken away, then we could have had a loud annoying movie.

2) Spanglish (Directed by James L. Brooks): Rating 7/10

Only if the movie was not so long, it might have been much better. It is a interesting movie, clichéd as it may be, but not a bad watch. Another tame quiet role for Adam Sandler and an English debut for the charming Paz Vega (Sex and Lucia). In a nutshell: a cultural coming of age meshed with troubled American household story. The weakest part is the overall structure of the movie – that the entire story is an actual essay submission to Princeton. Oh and Tea Leoni’s role as Sandler’s wife is a bit drab.

Bollywood:

1) Kaal (Directed by a former factory and sugar production): Rating 4/10

The only reason this movie does not get a zero rating is because of the technical merits. The movie is shot neatly and the editing is good. But the acting is terrible, the script pathetic and the direction non-existent. This is shameful even by Bollywood standards.

2) D (another Ram Gopal Varma factory movie): Rating ?

Very poorly scripted and laughable even by the factory movie standards. Calling this movie a prequel to ‘Company’ is a joke.

Friday, June 10, 2005

International Flair

1) The Sea Inside (directed by Alejandro Amenabar): Rating 8/10

No matter what movie Amenabar makes in the future, I will duly watch his work. Why? Because a man who can make conceive such movies as Thesis, Open Your Eyes and The Others is no ordinary film-maker. With The Sea Inside, Amenabar changes gears and goes for a dramatic movie as opposed to a thriller. But as Amenabar mentions in the DVD his fourth movie still contains the notion of death, like his previous three movies. This time however, it is a question of having the right to die – Euthanasia. The movie is based on the true story of Ramon Sampedro, a man who lost the use of his limbs during a swimming accident at the age of 19. Since then, Ramon has wanted to die. The movie picks up 26 years after that incident and Ramon still persists in ending his life. His requests are constantly denied by the courts. So finally, he hires a lawyer who has a physical disability hoping that she can help him, that she can understand his frustration of being bed-ridden and not being able to move.

The movie contains engaging performances by all the actors; Javier Bardem (as Ramon) plays his role wonderfully. The cinematography is just excellent, especially the camera work when Ramon imagines himself flying through the Galician skies. My only complaint is that the movie was 20 minutes longer than it should be. This is a fact that both writers (Amenabar and Mateo Gill) acknowledge in their interviews as well. But both felt that this movie had to be this long to show all the aspects of Ramon’s life – his writing, his accident, the women in his life, his daily struggle with the authorities, etc. Nonetheless, it is a very interesting movie which highlights a sensitive topic – assisted suicide.

2) Days of Being Wild (1991 movie directed by Kar-Wai Wong): Rating 7/10

Unlike Wong Kar-Wai’s other movies (Chunking Express, In the Mood for Love), I was not bowled over by this effort. Sure it is a simple story told at a leisurely pace but I just didn’t find it interesting enough. The story starts off with a bored young man (Leslie Cheung) stopping by a food/drink stand. The young man, Yuddy, takes a liking to the girl working there (Su Lizhen, played by Maggie Cheung). Yuddy duly asks her out, and after sleeping with her, dumps her. That is how Yuddy is -- he moves from one woman to another. Afterwards, he goes to threaten his mother’s boyfriend (over a pointless pretext) and picks a fight with him. While smashing stuff at the club, he asks the by standing exotic dancer out. When Su Lizhen discovers Yuddy’s affair, she is dejected and leaves him. Andy Lau plays a police officer who takes a liking to Su Lizhen and tries to console her after witnessing Yuddy’s behavior. Eventually Yuddy tires of the exotic dancer and leaves her as well. She is distraught and finds it hard to come to terms. In the meantime, Yuddy decides to leave to the Philippines where his anger gets him into trouble with some gangsters. What follows are sequences that I felt could have been left on the editing table.

On the plus sides, the movie has a soothing background score with good mood cinematography (rainy streets, dreary rooms, picturesque Philippines landscape, etc).

3) House of Fury (directed by Stephen Fung): Rating 8/10

Spy Kids meets Kung-Fu. A retired secret agent tries to keep a low profile by running a medical centre. He has spent his life raising his kids by telling them stories of his secret agent days, his adventurous exploits. When the kids were younger, they believed his stories. But after their mother passed away, the kids just considered their father’s tales as make-believe and nonsense. Now in their teens, the kids can’t stand their father – they find him annoying. One day, the father disappears. When his son goes to his father’s office, he finds everything broken. He stumbles into his father’s secret office where he sees proof of his father’s secret agent days. Everything starts to make sense now to the son. All those years of martial art training by his father, his father’s advice, etc seem to fall into place. When the son goes to tell his sister about all this, he finds that she is being attacked. The two kids manage to escape and start to go about finding the truth. Where is their father? Why are people after them? What follows is an entertaining action movie where the two kids (the son is played by Director Stephen Fung) manage to fight their way to the truth.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

June happennings

Movies and Documentaries:

Before I get to the few documentaries I have recently seen, let’s get some of the commercial flicks out of the way.

1) National Treasure (2004): Rating 6/10

This movie feels like a rip off of the ‘Da Vinci Code’ with the only difference being that the story is set in USA with a few elements of American history tied together. Also, tied in the story thread are elements of Knights Templar and the Free Masons. The result: another typical commercial flick. For all the potential, the movie screws up on its own accord. Firstly, the start of the movie is terribly boring. In fact, the first 30 minutes or so are wasteful and not at all interesting. Secondly, Nicolas Cage is wrongly cast for his role as Treasure Hunter. He looks bored and un-interested for most of the movie. Thirdly, Diane Kruger is wrongly cast as well. But after the first 30 minutes, the movie settles into a fairly entertaining story with the only problem being that the story feels like an episode of the Amazing Race.

2) Meet the Fockers: Rating 5/10

I was never a fan of the original ‘Meet the Parents’ and this movie does not add anything to the series. Maybe the only positive is that Ben Stiller’s parents are interesting characters played by Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand (Note: The parents do feel like clones of Greg’s parents in ‘Dharma and Greg’). Roberto De Niro acts just like he did in the first movie, maybe because he does not have any different or interesting material to work on. Throughout the movie, you just feel sorry for Ben Stiller as it is obvious things will keep getting worse for him before they get better.

3) Victory (1981 movie directed by John Huston): Rating a solid 8/10

I had never heard of this movie. And when I saw the names on the cover, I felt it merited a seeing. The names were ‘Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, Max Von Sydow and Pele’. It was obvious this was a soccer movie with Pele, Bobby Moore and Osvaldo Ardiles credited on the back cover. The story revolves around a ‘friendly’ soccer game between the German National team and a team of captured British Allied Prisoners of War in 1942. Max Von Sydow (who plays a German General, Karl Von Steiner) spots Colby (Caine) teaching soccer for the captured prisoners. Since Steiner was a former soccer player for the German National team, he recognizes Colby as a former professional player (Colby played for West Ham and England). He proposes a soccer game between Colby’s students and a collection of German soldiers/captains. After negotiating for extra food rations and better sports equipment, Colby agrees. When news of the games reaches the German high administration, they decide to use the game as a means of propaganda. The stakes are raised with the German National team playing not just against Colby’s boys but an allied World team of British colonies. The game would be held in Paris. The British hate the idea of the game, and decide to hatch a plan to let the entire team escape – they feel this is the only way they can make the Germans look bad.

What is interesting about this movie is that real soccer players were used, with the exception of Caine and Stallone. The soccer game footage is shot very well and the match is quite interesting. The movie came long before ‘Lagaan’ or other sport movies of the 1990’s. And Pele was a joy to watch.

Documentaries:

It is that time of the year again when documentaries flood the festival circuits. Here are some notable ones that I have been fortunate to have seen:

1) The Future of Food (Directed by Deborah Koons): Rating 9/10

This is chilling documentary about the abuse of genetically engineered foods and spray chemicals used by some of the major food corporations. Also shown are the illegal and stupid methods that some corporations are using to patent seeds, food genes and even food itself. A must see movie. The movie is along the lines of ‘The Corporation’ and ‘Super Size Me’ but it is much more relevant because it tackles the topic of everyday common food, whose quality is increasingly being tarnished by some companies.

2) Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land (Directed by Sut Jhally and Bathsheba Ratzkoff): Rating 7.5/10

This is an interesting movie which outlines the methods and techniques used by the American Media to portray a one-sided account of the Middle East conflict. The movie is not as interesting as ‘Check Point’ and ‘Control Room’ but it puts forward a lot of interesting ideas. The scenes which show Israel’s plan of establishing settlements in the West Bank in strategic locations are very interesting and eye opening indeed.

3) The Letter: An American Town and the Somali Invasion (Directed by Ziad Hamzeh): Rating 8/10

What happens when a bunch of Somali refugees are dumped into a quiet all white American town? A timer starts and the tension keeps building until something explodes. In this case, a tragic situation is averted but not before the entire town and even the entire country is dragged into a mess perpetuated by a single incorrect and racist letter written by the town’s mayor.

4) Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (Directed by Alexandra Cassavetes): Rating 9/10

A movie for all movie lovers! I had no idea what Z Channel was before I saw this movie. And after watching this movie how I wish we had such a great channel in this day and age. A channel dedicated to only showing foreign, independent and even commercial movies rejected by the main-stream audiences. A channel dedicated to providing information about film makers, genres and showcasing great actors.

This documentary talks about the famous Z channel and its programming chief, Jerry Harvey, who brought the best in cinema to households in L.A. Not every region in L.A got this pay cable channel but those that got it, cherished it. The movie has notable interviews with film-makers and critics (Robert Altman, Jim Jarmusch, Alexander Payne, Tarantino to name a few) and includes clips from some long forgotten gems of cinema.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Real Cinema

It has been a while since my last update and I have seen some good flicks in the last few weeks. But I want to get the commercial movies out of the way, and none are more commercial than Episode III.

1) Star Wars, Episode III: Rating 8/10

Well I held out for 13 days before I succumbed to the final episode. And I was pleasantly surprised. The movie is miles better than Episode I and Episode II. No doubt about it. The movie does a great job of tying up all the story pieces and makes it much more enjoyable to watch Episode 4, 5 & 6. Once again, the biggest weakness in the movie is the terrible dialogue. Also, the love story is so amateur that it is embarrassing. I really wish Lucas would have sub-contracted the dialogues and love story to someone else, but this is his story and his project. So he can do as he pleases. The story is complete now, finally. Will we have ever see Episodes 7, 8 & 9? Time will tell.

2) The Interpreter (directed by Sydney Pollack): Rating 8/10

It was a rainy night. There was no decent movie playing anywhere in the city. But I had a feeling a movie with Sean Penn, Nicole Kidman and Catherine Keener couldn’t be all that bad, could it? Well I am glad to know I was not wrong. The movie is not bad at all. In fact, it is a very good movie. Well made and quite absorbing. The story starts off in the fictitious African country of Matobo. A jeep of three men head off to a soccer stadium for a meeting. One camera man stays behind and the other two enter the stadium. But the two don’t make it out alive. The movie then picks up in New York, where the crust of the action takes place. The important scenes of the movie are shot on location at the U.N headquarters, and those scenes give the movie its authenticity. Nicole Kidman is an interpreter working at the UN. One night she over-hears an assassination plot to kill the head of Matobo who will be visiting the UN in a few days time. Since only few people know this language, so what are the chances that the only person in the UN who can understand this language overhears such a plot? That is the FBI’s problem when they come to investigate Kidman’s confession. And the case takes on an interesting twist when Kidman’s past reveals her hatred for Matobo’s leadership.

The only problem with the movie was some of the contrived Hollywood scenes regarding some of the movie’s main action points. Also, Sean Penn’s character was a bit too clichéd – once again he played a sulking brooding man. And there were a few scenes where Kidman’s accent changed quite a bit. One good thing about the movie is that it is not reduced to a love story and Kidman’s relationship with Penn’s characters is very natural and compassionate. The movie also does an excellent job of taking African and current Middle Eastern politics and wrapping it around a U.N setting. Worth seeing.

3) Chunking Express (directed by Wai-Kar Wong): Rating a very solid 9/10

Long before ‘In the Mood for Love’ and ‘2046’ was Chunking Express. And when this sweet movie came out, it won rave reviews (especially from Quentin Tarantino). The movie has two separate stories connected by a loose thread – the take out place where not only quality food is served but dreams are dished out as well. The first segment involves an inspector who has broken up with his girlfriend. He is lonely and miserable, so when he misses a blond femme fatale, he falls for her. The femme fatale is a self-described cautious person, who always wears a raincoat (just in case it might rain) and sunglasses (just in case it might be sunny) while donning a blond wig. She runs a drug operations using Pakistani immigrants as drug mules. She has a one night stand with the inspector and leaves him in the morning. Disappointed, the inspector heads to his favourite take out place. He brushes against a new employee there but he passes on the chance to ask her out. Instead, the new employee falls for another inspector. Both stories have a prominent song which plays continuously and sets the mood for each story.

A simple yet beautiful movie! And one can see the seeds of ‘In the Mood for Love’ and ‘2046’ in here.

4) Bad Education (directed by Pedor Almodovar): Rating a perfect 10/10

I am big fan of any movie by Almodovar. But I was told by a lot of people that Bad Education misses the mark. It is too much to endure and hard to sit through. Maybe in a theatre it is. My verdict on this movie: Perfect, Vintage, and just magnificent. I saw the movie without knowing the story. And that is the best way to watch this movie. So I won’t give anything away.

5) Stella (1955 movie directed by Michael Cacoyannis): Rating 4/10

Supposed to a classic movie but maybe some movies lose their impact with time. And so it is with this one. I just didn’t find anything enjoyable about this one. The end is quite interesting but I was bored long before that.

6) Stachka (English title ‘Strike’, 1925 movie directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein)

Rating: Interesting watch.

This is a classic movie in a lot of ways, not only regarding when it was made but the different techniques used. Cinema was definitely much more creative in the initial days when directors were experimenting and learning to use their new found tool of movie making. The movie’s story involves around a Russian factory revolution – workers are plotting to strike and the owners hire spies to foil the workers plan. If Eisenstein would be making movies today, then we would be truly lucky.

7) Gothika (Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz): Rating 6/10

Kassovitz has been responsible for directing powerful movies like Crimson Rivers and Hate (La Haine) and starring in hit movies like Amelie. But for some reason, I had not seen Gothika when it came out in 2003. Seeing it two years later, I can safely say that there was nothing I had missed in not having watched this movie. It is shot well but I just wished the story had more depth and did not go for the obvious angle that run of the mill Hollywood flicks take.

The movie starts out with Halle Berry listening to her patient, Penelope Cruz in the mental asylum. Cruz claims that the devil raped her, but Berry does not believe her. Driving home on that rainy night, Berry sees a girl standing in the middle of the road. She swerves to avoid hitting her and crashes her girl. When she gets back to the road, she inquires to see if the girl is all right. But the badly scarred girl suddenly bursts into flames. And just then Berry wakes up, only to find herself as a prisoner in that same mental asylum. How did she get there? It is an interesting setup but as the movie progresses, it just gets worse and worse. And the ending is very disappointing.