Curse of the Golden Flower

Stories of royalty at times are filled with power plays, treason, adultery and corruption, Zhang Yimou explores one such version in Curse of the golden flower. A powerful yet dysfunctional royal family and the tumults it faces, from the inside and outside form the crux of the tale.

The visuals are nothing short of breathtaking including the costumes.The version i saw was a dubbed one and the language is undoubtedly flowery, but still is entertaining to listen to. Chow-yun-fat as the emperor ping is a very good portrayal of a warlord with negative shades of character. Gong Li as the empress matches wits with the protagonist ( rather the antagonist) in such a god way that there is never a dull moment.

After watching Hero and House of flying daggers, i was expecting a martial arts wonder but surprisingly there is very little action in the movie. The film is more plot driven and is good at what it does too.

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Mr and Mrs Smith

 

Here’s the story : Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are assassins and married to each other, somebody pits them against each other and BANG,BANG,BOOM….end of story. It was as simple as this. Around the time this movie came out, the two were already a couple ( the hot property in holloywood) and Doug Liman, the director makes ample exploitation of this fact. Don’t get me wrong Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a good entertainer ( along the no-brainer  lines that is ).

There are shootouts and explosions galore, steamy love scenes and attempts at comedy ( some of which falll flat and some which draw the occassional chuckle ). Proved to be a very light hearted movie inspite of being a thriller complete with a happy ending. The entire focus is on the couple, I waited in vain for a villain to show up…there were a bunch of balaclava clad hitmen who did nothing but got shot,stabbed,kicked and punched at. It would be almost a sin to expect more from a star couple movie.

Entertaining to a fair extent…

Inside Man

“Don’t judge a crime by its cover”… i should have paid more attention to the tagline for Inside Man before i started watching it. Started off as a usual bank robbery story, the kind we got to see in films ranging from heat to speed. The story was about anything but a bank robbery.

Clive Owen starts off with his own narrative about the story and then the stroy turns into how a bank robbery turns into a hostage situation and how a detective played by Denzel Washington assisted by Willem Dafoe try to diffuse the situation. The story takes so many twists and turns that it kept me guessing till the last minute. Jodie Foster and Christopher Plummer make appearances. even though Foster was shown as the female lead she gets lesser screen time compared to the male leads, Willem Dafoe too gets a lesser amount of screen time. Like most of the heist movies it is primarily the sparring between the cop and the robber that is given more importance (don’t let that fool you…there’s more to the duel between the two men that does not come out until the penultimate scene).

Quite a brilliant Spike Lee joint…..

The Last King of Scotland

       

 

 

The first recollection i have about Idi Amin is from a small book named world famous crazy despots, though i do not remember much of the specifics i still remember the fact that he was a rumoured cannibal. Got a chance to watch documentary director Kevin McDonald’s directorial venture The Last King of Scotland, in which Amin is portrayed by Forest Whitaker in a brilliant light. James Mcavoy shines as Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, a brash and extroverted,wet-behind-the-ears doctor fresh out of college and on the lookout for a bit of an adventure.

The film opens with Garrigan graduating from the Medical College and hsi parents advising him to stay in his own country (Scotland that is…). Garrigan grows frustrated with this shell of comfort and randomly picks out Uganda to travel to and make a living, his initial spell involves coming to terms with the poverty stricken behemoth that is Uganda. A chance encounter brings him close Idi Amin, the newly appointed dictator, he takes to Amin’s charming persona and soon becomes the presidential adviser.  The story unfolds slowly as Garrigan comes to terms with the horror that is Idi Amin and his final escape.

Whitaker is brilliant as he switches from emotion to emotion in just seconds. He plays the darling of the media and in a flash switches to a paranoid and then to a patriarchal friend and to a murderous brute…the list of his images is rather an exhaustive one. The slightly gruesome before climax scene and his emotions in the final scene are just jaw dropping. McAvoy is very convincing as the flippant and brash young doctor whose amazement and fun in the initial stages slowly gives way to skepticism,disbelief and finally to horror towards the end.

It really was a very thrilling 123 minutes….

The Magnificient Seven

 

 

 

The good old days of the wild west in the movies…tough heroes, hapless heroines, showy villains and all the other blah blah is now a rarity. Ever since coming across movies like Unforgiven, 3:10 to Yuma and The proposition i have liked the harsh and more brazen way of stroytelling in those movies. John Sturges’s The Magnificient Seven was simply and purely a wonderful watch inspite of being nothing like the aforementioned stories.

The storyline is adapted from Kurosawa’s Shichinin No Samurai, a small community of farmers forever harried by a bandit Calvera (Eli Wallach) hires a group of seven gunmen to deal with the menace. What would have been a run-of-the-mill action story is converted into a very interesting 128 min by the stellar cast and the quirky dialogues. Cool is given a new definition by the 7 guys. Yul Brynner is very convincing as the leader of the pack with a vary outlook towards wayward violence. Steve McQueen is quick with his wisecracks as Vin. Two of the seven are given very little screen time, but the over acting-at-times Horst Buchholz as Chico makes up for most of the lighter moments in the film including a mushy little romantic twist in the story.

The good old ideals of honesty,loyalty,justice are given much importance in the movie, maybe that makes the movie all the more interesting. One of the timeless classics…

The Host

The basic idea behind a monster movie is always one of a dangerous fantasy. The very thought that the omnipotent human being can be terrorized by a beast has a thrill in itself ( creepy !!! ain’t it ?? ). There have been one too many monster movies from hollywood. The premise almost always remains the same…a big monster, a heron/heroine or both & in some ingenious way they defeat the monster in the end. The korean movie ” The Host” is rather a very ingenious in terms of the characters and the plot.

A monster emerges from the Han river that runs through South Korea, that is through the city itself. It goes for the humans and the entire story is told from the viewpoint of a small family of….well.. misfits. They run a small food shop by the river catering to the tourists. The protagonists are  a motley crew and it forms some of the lighter moments in the movie. What makes it unique is the way in which the story unfolds with a lot of twists and turns. The movie is at the same time sarcastic and tragic. The monster is rather an ugly one ( and i mean it….its real ugly !!!).

Quite a good sense of plot for the entire story revolves around the park family who are at the same time one of the most affected by the monster…..

12 Angry Men

The issue of opinions of the individual vs the collective opinion of a group is always one of paramount importance in a society. One such issue, albiet in a very closed environ of a  room and with a group of 12 men is explored in Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men.

A verdict of guilty or not guilty involving a murder case, and 12 jurors ( an all male cast as the name suggests..) who decide upon the accused and his fate forms the crux. When the movie begins, all jurors save one ( played by Henry Fonda ) are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. The story proceeds through a mixed bag of human nature protrayed by the 12 actors. The dialogues are excellent and so is the acting, in some of the later parts in the movie the camera itself behaves more human than like a machine.

In one word, a masterpiece……