Archive for the films Category

Crushed.

Posted in fiction, films, korean soaps, nostalgia with tags , , , on September 7, 2012 by sunshin3girl

So after a very busy half-a-year filled with baby things, I recently got back to pursuing my K-love actively. And one of the first thing I ventured upon was podcasts by the giggly Dramabeans and Girlfriday. As the two giggled about his hotness – Lee Min Ho and their first celebrity crush – Lee Jung Jae, I was reminded of my own celebrity crushes as a teenager.

The only reason I am ready to talk about my childhood celebrity crushes publicly is the fact that the embarrassment is not even close to what I feel when I remember some of my real life crushes. Ugh. Interestingly, my favorite actors have always been different from my crushes. While I gave all my pocket money and lots of my parents’ money to Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan films, they were never my crushes. That illogical part of my brain was reserved for the following. In chronological order of chrushiness:

Akshay Kumar: Tween love, this was. Sometime in 1992, a little while before the blockbuster Khiladi came out, I saw a crappy mishmash of a film called Mr. Bond. While the movie was just very fast rushes of different girls and a lot of singing and dancing with guns, I loved the guy in it. I only found out his name when I saw him next in Khiladi but dude, he had my tweeny heart right then and there. This guy was so fit, so fast, and just so much more amazing than anyone I had ever met. And that is how it began – the strings of celebrity crushes. Akshay had me pwned all the way through early ’90s thanks to his characters in films like Yeh Dillagi and Mohra but then things went downhill with the likes of Tarazu.

Today, Akshay still strikes me as one of the fittest actors in their 40s. I just wish he did fewer of Jokers.

Pierce Brosnan: Even back then, he was this old guy that little me fell in love with. It started when I found Ramington Steele on the television one bored afternoon. And oh my God, I died. Here was this amazingly suave and clever guy with the deepest blue eyes ever. He walked like a leopard and was so witty. I often think I was more in love with Ramington Steele than Brosnan himself. I totally fell heads over heels again when I watched Thomas Crown Affair. I did go on to watch all his movies that I could find. And I love him till date, with all his wrinkles. I even love his crappier movies and totally dug him singing and dancing in Mamma Mia!

And then there was a long lull. I turned sober for almost a decade before I rediscovered the madness of celebrity love with Korean dramas.

Gong Yoo: I was already hooked to K-dramas before I saw Gong Yoo in a very crappy show called – One Fine Day. After the first two episodes, I gave it up and started another recommended show – Coffee Prince. Much to my surprise, Gong Yoo was in it too and was the most lovable character ever. Seriously. If you think that SRK mastered romantic hero art in the ’90s, come watch this show. This is what girls want their man to be like. While I have found way cuter Korean actors (like aforementioned Lee Min Ho), Gong Yoo has been the only one I have had a crush on. The actor was in his mandatory military service at the time I discovered him, and hence, not making anything new. I then dug the K-archives and found every movie and drama he has ever appeared in and watched it with fervor. Much to my joy, the first movie he made after returning was shot in Jaipur, India!

Alright, while this was fun, real life mommy-duty calls now. Later.

Advertisements

Ek Tha Tiger

Posted in films with tags , , , on August 21, 2012 by sunshin3girl

**Spoilers Galore **

I am writing about this film is not because it was most brilliant or most terrible; but only because I watched a Bollywood film on the big screen after six months, and that makes it special.

Ek Tha Tiger is a spy movie that does not involve much sleuthing. The protagonist is a RAW agent, who goes by the name Tiger after his impressed boss once calls him so, is a rather simple guy who is always on back-to-back assignments. He is seen chasing and killing people until he meets this endearing girl on one of the assignments. Despite warnings from his well-meaning colleague and friend, Tiger falls for her. But as things turn out, the lovely girl is rather lethal. And hence begins a topsy-turvy love story between a RAW and an ISI agent.

The film is rather disappointing as far as the story goes, for it has none. Also, if one starts to look for technical details, like how international secret agencies might operate, you will be greatly disappointed. For unlike Agent Vinod, Tiger operates without fancy gadgets. He gets his orders in person, does the job the way he likes, comes back and reports to his boss at Rashtrapati Bhavan. However, the director successfully intertwines the love story with the espionage as long as you remember that you are watching a romance, not a thriller.

What the movie does well is that it gets you to root for two rogue agents, mostly because you see that the two are being fair to their own respective establishments and to each other. They just want out, but they are not compromising their moral code. Of course, we must continue our suspension of disbelief and not try to relate this to a real life situation.

The film is set in, well, the world. And I love that. It starts in gorgeously visualized alleys of Iraq, shifts to pretty pastures of Dublin, and then to the enticing Istanbul. As if we are not already high on the world’s beauty, the film then takes us to Havana. All this country hopping is interspersed with shots of the Presidential House in Delhi. On this beautiful landscape, the movie places beautiful people, one of them rather old but we can live with that considering we decided to watch the film on our own accord. This beauty is the film’s USP, I suppose.

The film does something very right with its worldliness – it does not have Indians thrown all over. There is nothing more annoying than seeing Indian doctors in Swiss hospitals and Indian cops in Thai police stations. It is also a relief to see some comic lines thrown in here and there by both Salman Khan and Ranvir Shori, who is awesome in his massive beard, without stooping to the slapstick comedy which seems to be the thing in Bollywood currently.

The music is very forgettable, but the film perfects the slow-mo heroism that Bollywood has learned from the South Indian film industries in recent times. So when Tiger kicks ass, the time slows down, apt music plays in the background and we love it, even though we are not huge fans of Salman Khan. Oh, and the action in general is quite sleek. In retrospect, I do not remember any typical dhishoom-dhishoom at all. The chases are quite gripping, and the stunts smartly choreographed. Yes, I did spot a dude as Katreena’s body double in a particular chase sequence in Cuba, but I was too busy following the chase to complain then. Later, of course, I tweeted about it.

In a nutshell, the film is better than the last few action/comedies/romances churned out by the industry and fun was had.

In which we return

Posted in films, Yorick on May 28, 2012 by sunshin3girl

So this has been the longest break from blogging, I suppose. And this is the reason for it:

So while there was much to say and I was flummoxed at every step, which would have made entertaining posts but only for another mothers, so I refrained. Also, I lack the wit that makes one a bearable mom blogger.

Now that the announcement is out of the way, let’s try to get back to normal things…like films. So due to the aforementioned reason, I have had many hours of being a couch potato and I have utilized it fully by watching many fantastic films, but there were times when I fell into the trap of nostalgia and ended up watching some of my *so-called* favorites from the ’90s. Or rather, I tried to watch them.

Now I have loved the Bollywood of ’90s but having re-watched some films, I suppose it would be more accurate to say that in the ’90s I started to enjoy Hindi films. For it shames me to say that as a sixth grader, I had loved the film Dil, for it is terrible. The humor, the drama, the story…everything is derogatory to women, to audience, and to the art of cinema in general. Regardless of starring my ever favorite Madhuri Dixit and the supposedly intelligent actor Aamir Khan, the movie is crap. Maybe it were mistakes like these that made him intelligent.

But more surprising was re-watching an old ’70s film Chhoti Si Baat, which was still entertaining and way better than the earlier mentioned film, but I found that I was looking at the film in a new light. The acting is impressive, the story simple but fun, but the whole idea that men get trained to impress a girl, and win her over seems quite odd. The movie tries to redeem itself in the end by taking the path of sincere love, but it is hard to ignore the fact that it earlier professed that eating with chopsticks and making another man look dumb will impress a girl.

Well, after such experiences I have resolved to stay away from my childhood favorites, for they maybe truly terrible but they are wonderful in my memory. On the other hand, I am saved from embarrassing myself by ever mentioning to my boy that I liked a film called Dil.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Posted in films with tags , on July 15, 2011 by sunshin3girl

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 left me confused. No, not because it does not tie up the loose ends, for it does that wonderfully. I missed an important ingredient in the film, I haven’t figured out what yet.

The movie starts at the same pace at which the previous ended; no needless recaps, no build up, which is how it should be for any movie that calls itself Part 2. Harry Potter and party continue their search for horcruxes and continue to destroy them in order to weaken Voldermot by destroying pieces of his soul. The three leads appropriately look worn out, and through the narrative of the film we meet the important bygone characters like Dumbledor, Sirius Black, James and Lilly Potter. The film does not drag at any point, and I especially liked the manner in which the film, fleetingly yet meaningfully, showed the loss of important characters like Remus, Tonks, and Fred.
Alan Rickman as Snape is wonderful as ever, and for once he is not passing snide remarks. Although, I remember feeling more deeply for the character while reading the book than in the film, still his memory was captured beautifully as quick snapshots of the past.
The action is fast paced, significant and well-placed. I especially liked the scenes inside the Gringotts vaults, complete with a mammoth dragon and cheating goblins. Another impressive action sequence was the battle sequence between Hogwarts golems and the giants from the dark side. Daniel Radcliffe is definitely impressive and appears to have matured as Harry Potter’s character, a man amongst teens. His screen presence is amazing, and he can demand attention even while sharing the screen with the other senior actors of mettle. Another brilliant actor in the film is Helena Bonham Carter, who was brilliantly mellow and perplexed while playing Hermione under a spell.
What I did not like about the movie, is mostly the same what I disliked about the book. The fact that our beloved child-characters remain miraculously unharmed, while the adults keep falling off the face of earth is odd. But the biggest crime of both the book and the film is the 19 years later part. It is so lame that I won’t even talk about it.
So, the movie wraps up the journey of the tiny Harry Potter to manhood, and it does this with remarkable finesse but something is still wrong. I presume it is the lack of anticipation with each of the previous film ended.
But unhappily, it all ends here.

Movie Review: Paris, je t’aime

Posted in films with tags , , on June 7, 2011 by sunshin3girl

I saw New York, I Love You way before I saw its French inspiration. And to be fair, I loved it. However, now that I have seen Paris, je t’aime, I want to re-watch New York.

Collection of 18 short stories, each representing a different arrondissements of Paris, the film is a delightful mix of highs and lows, smiles and tears, hopes and dreams. Each short story is directed by a different person, and thankfully, they do not connect in the anthology style made popular by Amores Perros.

The stories are distinct, and reflect the mood of the arrondissments it’s shot in. Each story fades into the new one, and before one has time to reminisce, one is gripped in the new one. Interestingly, there is not a single story that will leave one unaffected.

The film starts with a story by Bruno Podalydès, which sees a man waiting for his parking space and wondering how every passing woman is taken and then within minutes, events conspire to have an interesting woman on his car’s backseat.

While one is marveling the depth of emotions conveyed through this tiny film, the next one opens with a bunch of teen-aged boys hanging by the ocean, catcalling every passing woman. One of the boys notices a shy Muslim girl sitting beside them, and then he ends up walking down the street with her grand-dad. This film is directed by the duo Paul Mayeda Berges & Gurinder Chadha, and is one of my favorite stories.

The third film is by Gus Van Sant, and is true to his style. It opens with an elderly American woman and a French man walking into a print shop. While the lady is busy with the business, the man hangs around and finds himself instantly attracted to a worker. As he tries to strike up a conversation in vein, he is assured that this shy man is his soul mate. But unable to get any response, he leaves after giving his telephone number. But was the soul mate shy or just new in France?

The next film by Joel and Ethan Coen completely changes the mood as it starts in a metro station, where an American tourist is observing his surroundings while reading the tourist guide. He appears to be hoping to find love in Paris. However, what he finds is a bizarre couple who punish him for breaking the fundamental rule of avoiding eye contact with strangers. And yes, the American tourist is played my the wide-eyed Steve Buscemi!

Next up is my THE favorite story of the 18, directed by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas. A young woman walks into a gloomy hostel-like building carrying a baby at wee hours of the morning, she puts him down in a crib, and sings a Spanish lullaby (the tune of which has captured my heart) and then hurriedly leaves. We see her going through a long commute via a bus, a metro, a different train and then walking into a mansion in a posh area, where she works as maid. The film ends with the young woman singing the same lullaby to her employer’s baby. The emotions conveyed by the actor’s eyes, face, and hands (yes, hands!) broke my heart.

The sixth story is directed by Christopher Doyle, and is about a beauty products salesman who discovers China Town for the first time. I did not care much about this story, but the visuals stayed with me, nonetheless.

Another one to touch my heart was by Isabel Coixet. A middle-aged man watches his wife from inside a cafe, as she walks over in a red trench coat that he detests. He is planning to tell her that it isn’t working out any more and he is love with a much younger girl. But then the wife walks in and breaks down while telling him that she is terminally ill. It changes everything, and the lost love is rekindled. So much, that when the wife dies, the husband falls into an emotional comma.

Next up is Nobuhiro Suwa’s tiny tale of a mother grieving over her dead boy who loved cowboys. Short and bitterly sweet.

Sylvain Chomet’s mime tale is about a little boy with a HUGE school bag and cutest specs, whose parents are mime artists. Another one I wouldn’t have cared much for but the visuals blew me off.

Alfonso Cuarón’s story tickled me pink. We see an elderly man walking down the street with a young girl who complains to him about how Gaspard is binding her and she needs to break free. She constantly talks of Gaspard would not approve of her arrangement with this older man, but she does not care as she has needs too. The movie is shot in a continuous shot and has the most delightful end.

Olivier Assayas’s tale shows the instantaneous connection an American actress forms with her hash dealer, and how both do not act in time. Interesting but not a favorite.

Next is Oliver Schmitz’s heart wrenching story of an immigrant dying of a stab wound and his paramedic, who also happens to be his crush. She realizes and remembers a minute too late. Amazingly shot.

Then there is Richard LaGravenese’s story that shows us an elderly couple in a role-play to save their marriage. Another bitter-sweet one.

Vincenzo Natali’s story was a surprise in this package. It is story of young backpacker, Elijah Wood, falling in love with a vampire. I thought it was silly until the last two minutes, and then I thought it was brilliant. Wonderful imagery.

Next is Wes Craven’s story shot in a cemetery. A tourist couple argue over minor things while touring Paris a month before their wedding. One thing leads to another, and the girl decides to break up but then, Oscar Wilde comes to their rescue.

Another fascinating story by Tom Tykwer, where a blind chap mistakingly believes that his girlfriend, Natalie Portman, has broken up with him. He revisits their entire relationship, its development and decay, in the most fetching series of images and words.

Gérard Depardieu’s short tale in penultimate. It sees an aging couple meeting in a bar a day before they officially divorce. Their reminiscing and bantering is real despite the oddest situation.

Alexander Payne’s story is the last, where we see an American postmistress touring Paris, practicing her French, and reflecting on her life. A perfect end, if you ask me.

The stories together show us different glimpses of Parisian life and relationships. The most fascinating thing is the way every story melts into the next one, and the mood is always extremely different. The last shot of every film somehow is the first shot of the next story, although the location is different. It is like cinematic magic.

Another thing that I loved was the vast spread of the stories in terms of language and races. It depicts the cosmopolitan nature of Paris truly, I suppose, which sees people from every part of the world coming together. While, some plots are not as brilliant as others, every single story leaves a mark on the viewer. What more could one ask, non?

Movie Review: Finding Mr. Destiny//Kim Jong-Ok Chatgi

Posted in films with tags , , , , on May 31, 2011 by sunshin3girl

When I first discovered the uber delicious and one of the better actors of Korean media – Gong Yoo – was serving his military enlistment and hence, there was a dearth of stuff with him in it. I quickly ran through his previous projects and then waited for almost a year to savor his newest film – Finding Mr. Destiny. As if getting to watch one’s favorite actor was not enough, they also shot some parts of the film in my favorite country – India.

Hence, much anticipation and expectation pursued.

Finding Mr. Destiny is a rom-com about a freakishly meticulous Han Gi-Joon (Gong Yoo) helping a whimsical Seo Ji-Woo (Lim Soo-Jung) in finding her first love. The film spans through two different stories set in different times, which transcend into one, almost beautifully. Almost. Ji-Woo had met a fascinating stranger during her solo-travel to India’s Blue City (Jodhpur) ten years ago. However, in her naivety, she tempts the fate and levels her newly-found soul mate in the hope that destiny will bring them together again.

The tale of her time spent with the stranger is told through vibrant shots and pages of her diary. As the diary is being read by the bumbling entrepreneur Gi-Joon, who uses his sharp research skills to track down people’s first love; we see an extremely dashing Gong Yoo as the stranger from ten years ago. In the high-saturation Rajasthani backdrop, Gong-Yoo looks fantastic, but sadly, that is the only part where we get to salivate over him. For the rest of the film, he just acts wonderfully.

The real Gi-Joon, however, is far from the perfect man from Ji-Woo’s memories. However, she finds it difficult to move on as the memory of first love stops her from accepting anyone new, and thus, she ends up on a journey of shorts with Gi-Joon to find her Mr. Destiny.

Ji-Woo’s character is well etched and extremely consistent. Leaving her soul mate up to fate wasn’t a one off; she habitually skips the endings of novels and leaves the last piece of cookies in the bag, as she likes to save the best for later and hence, never really reaching the end. She is forced by her dad to find her first love after she rejects a huge rock from an extremely eligible pilot. Uninterested in the beginning, she ends up being curious in her search thanks to mister persistent and capriciously hygienic Gi-Joon. Her character is extremely likable as a girl next door, with her messy hair and bee-stung lips. She gets to show her heavily made up stylish look when she is pushed to replace a missing actor during a show of her Chicago-like musical.

Gi-Joon’s character is equally well honed. He is quirky, mild-mannered, and not in your face. Having quit his job at a travel agency due to his extreme honest opinion of mouthing “tsunami” instead of “Bali” when someone mentions Indonesia, he starts his own business in a niche area of finding one’s true love. Once he gets on the case, he sticks to it, no-matter-what. However, he is not the usual cool Gong Yoo one is used to, but an anal freak who pants while climbing up the stairs and cannot kick the football to save his life.

The biggest flaw of the film was its other characters – none of them unrealistic or badly acted but way too many of them. There is Ji-Woo’s sister and her doctor fiancée, a well-meaning single dad of the two girls, Gi-Joon’s sister and her husband who shares his home and office area with Gi-Joon, also a cute daughter who delivers one cute dialogue, plus the actors from the stage where Ji-Woo works. There are way too many people and way too less time given the two stories in different time space, and hence, the other characters end up being meaningless.

Despite all this the vivacious and high-saturation shots of India (a very handsome Gong Yoo playing street cricket. Woohoo!) and DOF shots of Seoul stick with you. The leads have done a fair job and the film will make the eternal romantics like me happy knowing that serendipitously, everyone meets their Mr. Destiny.

Dhobi Ghat // A fresh breath of musty air

Posted in films with tags , , , , , on January 24, 2011 by sunshin3girl

Dhobi Ghat is not a tale, it is a moment. Rather it is a collection of several bittersweet moments in the lives of four people.

I love the films that are not about something, because they usually end up being about people and their feelings, which I find extremely romantic. Dhobi Ghat to me is a romance, a romance with life – the little joys and heartbreaking pains it brings along. It is fantastic, the way Kiran Rao conveys the essence of the city without any help of a great social tragedy or spectrum one feels passionately about. The film is not set in the cruel underworld, the mystical film industry, or a pitiable chawl. It is just set in Bombay.

And beautifully so.

Arun (Aamir Khan) is a bourgeois bohemian who wears Marc Jacobs but lives in a rickety old building in the old city, which one could consider full of character. As a self-confessed loner who considers himself incapable/uninterested in relationships, he forms a deep bond with Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra), a lonely housewife and the former tenant of the said rickety house. He discovers her through old video tapes she shot of herself as letters to her brother who lives in a small town in U.P. His relationship inspires his art, and we see a painfully sweet connection developing. The director makes the progression of this connection so seamless that when Arun dons Yasmin’s old silver chain-and-ring around his neck, it only seems natural to the audience.

Yasmin is a beautiful girl, full of optimism and hope. She loves her new life, she loves Mumbai and its grandness. At the same time, she is a little child, a lonely one at that. We fall in love with her in the first three minutes of seeing her. But she changes.

There is also Shai (Monica Dogra), the perfect-est NRI I have seen in Bollywood. Her American-English is as natural as her accented Hindi. For once we see an NRI who knows proper Hindi, and thank God (and Kavita Rao) for this! The awkwardness of Shai comes out by her noncompliance to the social norms of Indian society. That is how we know that she is new to Mumbai. While she flutters around in her social circle with great ease, we see her gawkily fitting into the company of Munna (Prateek), a dhobi and an aspirant actor. She is soon at ease in dhobi ghat shooting pictures of Munna at work, and in an under-construction structure, from where she spies un-embarrassedly on Arun despite the surprised stares from the workers.

And of course, there is Munna and his little joyful moments. His shy smile and frank outlook to life squishes your heart and breaks it into a million pieces. But he knows, he has always known what is in his reach, and what isn’t. His dreams are big, yet practical but they do not stop him from seizing his moment. Yet he knows when to back up. Through him I saw the Mumbai I have only read about in books. He is my favorite in the movie, closely followed by Yasmin.

There were a few moments that I did not understand but I shall not nitpick. How often do you come across a film or a book in which you love every single character? None of them is perfect, in fact far from it but you love them nonetheless because they are so real. The intangible problems of the rich bring out those faced by the have-nots in stark comparison. To think that a Shai and a Yasmin can walk on the same beach and breathe in the same air, and yet live in worlds so far apart…