Monday, March 13, 2006

95th Post

This turns out to be my 95th entry for this blog. Unfortunately, it is not a very polished entry but given the recent flood of movies that have been passing through my DVD, I can only find time to spare a few quick words.

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (directed by Chan-wook Park)

The trilogy is complete but oddly I lost interest. It is a strange feeling really – you wait so long to see a movie and when you finally get a chance to see it, you find that you no longer care. That is the case I felt with ..Lady Vengeance. A long time ago I saw Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and really liked the movie -- that movie had started off slowly but took time to develop its characters and outline the story before plunging into a series of cuts and stabs to end on a bloody note. Then I saw Oldboy , a dark and wicked movie which started off interestingly and slowed down slightly in the middle before finishing off with a real hammer blow of an ending. So I eagerly waited for the final installment of the revenge trilogy. Now ..Lady Vengeance does take time to outline the characters and story but after the first 30 minutes or so, I lost all interest. I can’t explain it. Maybe this movie should have come before Oldboy ? Or maybe I just had moved on to other movies while waiting for this to finally get released? Or maybe I need to attempt to see this movie some time again in the future?

Mostly Martha (written and directed by Sandra Nettelbeck): Rating 10/10

This 2001 movie is a perfect blend of cooking, acting and writing. Martha (played perfectly by Martina Gedeck) is a perfectionist when it comes to her kitchen. But this need for perfection makes her a control freak. Her patience and wit are duly tested when the care-free fun loving chef Mario (played amazingly by Sergio Castellitto) is hired to work alongside Martha. And when Martha’s sister is killed in a tragic accident, Martha has to look after her young niece Lina (Maxime Foerste). Not having experience dealing with kids, Martha struggles with Lina. But Mario is able to reach out to Lina and helps forge a bridge between Lina and Martha. A wonderful movie!

Lilya-4-ever (written & directed by Lukas Moodysson): Rating 9.5/10

An intense and chilling movie from the writer and director of 1998’s Show me Love (better know as F*** Åmål). Since I had loved his previous effort, I wanted to check out this 2002 movie as well. I am glad I did because it is an excellent effort. Story: Lilya’s mother takes off to the States and leaves her daughter to fend for herself in a cold former Russian republic (we are never told the exact name of the city or country but that does not matter). She says she will call for Lilya when things are settled but that is not how things turn out. Instead of moving to the states, 16 year old Lilya is left at the mercy of people who are looking to exploit and use her at every chance, right from her aunt to her boyfriend. Her only salvation is a 13 year old boy who is abused by his father and lives a solitary life. Their friendship is the only comforting and sane thing which holds both of them together. The movie could easily double as a docu-drama because of its Verité feel.

Best of Youth, Part I (directed by Marco Tullio Giordana): Rating 8.5/10

Broken up into two parts, each 3 hours long, Best of Youth requires an investment of one’s time. And as it turns out, it is a worthy investment. Initially, I was skeptical about having to spend so much time watching a movie but as it turns out, one hardly notices the time fly by. Simply put, it is a story about two brothers as they grow up from the 1960’s through to the 80’s (part I only). The movie focuses on the changing ideologies of the young men as they go through their lives, learning and experiencing new sensations along the way and maturing into independent adults. The brothers start off on the same path and gradually find themselves drifting from each other. Typical with most Italian movies, this one is complete with emotion, family, politics and love. What else is there? I am sufficiently interested to spend 3 more hours watching Part II.

The Life of Jesus (written & directed by Bruno Dumont): Rating 5.5/10

Sometimes a movie is what it is and reading too much into it is not worth the effort. La Vie de Jésus has won many awards but it is not half as complex as it made out to be. The story revolves around bored white French youngsters who have nothing to do in their little town. Their amusements range from driving around on their bikes and insulting an Arab family in the town. The movie predictably ends when the white racist French boys beat the crap out of the Arab kid. Yes the movie gives us a realistic glimpse into the boring life in a small town. Yes the movie does not shy away from the awkward racist situations but so what? Much better interesting movies exist out there on this very topic.

Igby goes down (2002 movie written & directed by Burr Steers): Rating 7.5/10

A coming of age movie jam packed with plenty of big star cameos. Not bad and enjoyable in parts.

Gangster No. 1 (2000 movie directed by Paul McGuigan): Rating – not worth it

Yawn! A British Gangster movie which is more talk than action. The constant voice over narration provided by Malcolm McDowell loses its appeal after a while and instead becomes annoying.

Napolean Dynamite (2004 movie directed by Jared Hess): Rating 8.5/10

A funny movie on par with Rushmore and Jon Heder’s interesting performance makes this one a fun movie to watch. The fact that Jon Heder is aptly supported by a quirky cast only adds to the movie’s enjoyment. Ofcourse, it is also possible to watch this movie without any emotion or interest as the humour is dry and offbeat.

Dot the I (2003 movie written & directed by Matthew Parkhill): Rating 9/10

I had never heard of this movie. But it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Best to watch it without knowing the story! At times, the movie tries to be too clever for its own good but in the context, it works. The twists at the end are easy to pick up and not totally unexpected. It was also the first movie where I saw Gael García Bernal in a completely English speaking role and he does not disappoint.

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