Sunday, January 08, 2006

3 classics, a Bully and some Mango Souffle

The Last Picture Show (1971 movie directed by Peter Bogdanovich, written by Larry McMurtry): Rating 8/10

Ah life in a small town! It can be boring, painful and plain slow. Nothing seems to happen. The longing for ‘something’ makes people do crazy things. Crazy things lead to more crazy things and in the end increase the already piled up list of problems. If one has not lived in small town North America, all the characters and situations will seem boring. But things shown here are quite accurate (to some extent). In fact, the problems of small towns are indeed replicated in modern suburbia environments (a point well explored by American Beauty and various other movies). The Last Picture Show showcases young actors such Randy Quaid, Jeff Bridges and a very beautiful 20 year old Cybill Shepherd. The movie is sad, tragic but well worth the watch.

The Long Goodbye (1973 movie directed by Robert Altman): Rating 7/10

The detective, the unsolved crime, the femme fatale and a pile of dead bodies! A classic detective crime thriller! And considering this movie was made back in 1973, it built on the existing body of film noir movies and laid the groundwork for future genre thrillers. The best thing about the movie is Elliott Gould’s perfect portrayal of Philip Marlowe, a laid back detective who will calmly strike a light for his cigarette anywhere. Not a great movie but it definitely kept my interest.

Apocalypse Now (1979 movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola)

Rating: A very subjective scale of 6 – 8

‘The Horror’, oh ‘the horror’! Amazingly I had never seen this classic movie until now. Considered to be one of the best movies ever made, this movie really gave Coppola a headache and thrust a financial burden on his shoulders. A dazzling cast directed by one of the leading film directors of his time-- What more can one ask for? I only opted watching the original 2 hour 30 min cut as opposed to the newly restored 3 hour + version. And I was severely disappointed. I had high expectations but in the end, I couldn’t care less. Some movies have to be watched in the right mood and I tried to keep an open mind for this one. Sure, it is beautifully shot, well acted and the music score compliments the movie but I just didn’t think it was that stellar. I really expected to be led into the heart of darkness so to speak but I didn’t think it was dark enough. Ofcourse, one’s imagination should fill in the details and not everything must be shown to the viewer but in this day and age of shock gruesome movies we get darkness served raw and cold to us.

Bully (2001 movie directed by Larry Clark): Rating 8.5 / 10

Now I found this movie to dark and chilling! Larry Clark really shook things up with Kids and here he raises the bar even more. Once again, he is not afraid to keep his camera focused on kids (too long sometimes) by showing us what they are doing (screwing or getting into trouble) and what they are thinking. The movie is based on a real life incident about a high school bully and his planned murder by his victims (friends and colleagues). There is probably a lot of improvisation done to the characters but the overall reported incidents might be true to some extent. A boy bullies his childhood friend, bosses people around, rapes a girl when he feels like yet pretends to be innocent in front of his parents. When his best friend can’t take it anymore, his girlfriend suggests killing the bully as the only option out. And this is where the fun and games stop. How the kids go about planning the murder and how they try to cope with their actions forms the rest of the movie. This movie is much more structured than Kids and is well made. It does show that in this day and age of suburban boredom and video game land, kids can’t fully comprehend the consequences of their actions and some of them can’t even differentiate between thought and action.

Mango Souffle (2002 movie directed by Mahesh Dattani): Rating 4/10

Good to know that Mahesh Dattani redeemed himself by making a good movie like Morning Raga in 2004 because Mango Souffle is plain awful. The story is not that bad really but what makes it painful to watch is the terrible acting; none of the leading actors have any expressions on their faces and they look wooden while delivering their lines. Dattani adapted his own play for this movie and I am sure the stage play was much more interesting. Ofcourse, this is not a regular topic you see on Indian cinema so it was good to see something different made. It is clear that the Dattani has taken pains to make this movie but why couldn’t he have made the actors act?

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