Sweet One

Caramel is made by first time film maker, Nadine, who is also the lead actress/ co-writer. Given the premise — beauty parlour run by female friends — this film is a serious stunner. Can perhaps be called the best women movie of the last year. It is a light comedy set in Lebanon. Craft of the film is very European but have very touchy cultural sub plots/ character studies. The neo-noir frames and the light story line gives a nice contrast to the viewing experience. Highly recommended.

Knowing Cage

It must be recession. Nicolas Cage is in big trouble. He needs a lot of money, and just acts in any movie that gets him his paycheck. If Leaving Las Vegas was iconic, all his recent ones – treasures, paycheck (how apt!), seeing future, and now this one, seeing future disasters, all are bordering silliness and boredom.

Actually, they are pretty good for cheap thrills. Knowing has some build up, but then the core story changes track midway and it becomes “The day earth stood still”. In the end, much of the movie seems a waste of time. And it is a 2.5 hour movie. Then of course the US angle to everything, and vague explanations.

I think it started off as a nice idea, but the director couldnt get to close it well. Reco? Strictly once over, if you have nothing else to do.

Revolutionary Road

Remember, American Beauty? We all took the trip down the lane with Lester, didnt we? From the same director, Sam Mendis, here comes the female version of Lester. At some level, they have the same elements and characters. And almost matching up with the former for brilliance.

Wifey Kate Winslet is superb in this dark and disturbing movie. She won the Globe best actress for this role, a bit too hysterical for me, though. What I really loved was Michael Shannon’s role/ performance in this film. Actually, the movie is about his character’s reading of the world.

Such brief acts — Viola Davis’s single scene in Doubt got her an Oscar nomination in supporting category — are getting good recognition. But for a few exceptions (like Hopkins winning best actor for his 16 min role in Silence Of The Lambs), screen time always used to be a criteria for serious recognition. Things are changing for good, I hope.

Watch Timecrimes

Imagine sci-fi in the 80’s. Simple concept, no CGI, buildup of mystery, maze of possibilities, a feeling of never ending spiral, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle in your mind while watching a new scene and frowning at the crude ways of closures?

Timecrimes is for sci-fi old timers. Simple (often repeated) premise — what if you can go back in time? what will you change? Can you change? what if there is another you from another time when you go back in time?

RocknRolla

Now that your ex-wife has given you a few big ones, we see that your creative juices have started flowing again, Mr Ritchie. A kick in the back has certainly reminded you of what you actually are. Welcome back, this certainly is in the right alley. Well, almost.

Perhaps the millions that you got were too cushy for you — Rocknrolla isnt as tight and rocking as your older ones. Similar wine is similar bottle? But def worth a watch (or two, to catch the very “English” monologues) for those where-have-you-gone-Guy-Ritchie fans.

Transthriller

Transsiberian is a thriller that works on dialogues, mysterious circumstances against a dull backdrop. A couple taking a train from Beijing to Moscow, gets involved in a whodunit plot with Russian police, drug mules, and themselves.

These days I feel that most climaxes are ‘oh-we-gotta-stop’ build ups, this one is close. But the thrill component stays on till the closing credits. Also watch out for some interesting quotes, political or otherwise. Though storyline isnt extraordinary, movie *is* different, and a must watch.

In Bruges

Two assassins are asked to lay low after an assignment, and they are sent to Bruges – a cold, dull medieval place in Belgium(?). Each has his own reasons to like or dislike the place, but they just have to wait for their boss to call them to know what next.

We get to know them as they push their life through, as they reflect on their past deeds and the movie heads to a violent climax. Introduction of morality towards the end and setting up for climax felt a little odd, but overall, brilliantly written script. In Bruges, though, is not for the faint-hearted ones.

District B13

You thought the opening, super fast free running action sequence of Casino Royale was cool? You thought Jackie Chan does it with more finesse? Apparently you haven’t watched B13. It is a French movie with almost non-stop action (not thoughtless – it is no Shoot ’em Up, I mean). The stunts are not free running, but Parkour. Wikipedia says that free running was derived out of Parkour.

Plot : In near future Paris, bad elements become so difficult to manage that govt makes a separate walled district for affected areas called B13. B13 has no schools, cops, no control. When someone in B13 steals a nuclear bomb, a cop has to be sent in to diffuse the bomb. You need a guide (David Belle, founder of Parkour! as Leito) to know B13. So these odd guys team up reluctantly. Sounds like a typical Bollywood pot boiler setup, but the fun is in the execution. Most pulse racing 90 minutes of your life, guaranteed. Watch it if you liked Transporter, Taxi (French), Smoking Aces, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or Lucky Number Slevin.

BTW, Akshay’s Thumbs Up ad and Saif’s Royal Stag ad uses free running sequences, so does Madonna’s music video Hung Up.

The Savages

I am now a complete fan of Philip Hoffman. The smirk is still there, but Capote has done to him what Leaving Las Vegas did to Nicolas Cage. Only, the real good thing is that he is sticking to the new ground and not going aimless like Cage.

The Savages is his latest 5 star performance. Uncommon topic for a US mainstream movie. Very relevant — Grown up kids living far in cities going through mid life crisis of their own. And not knowing what to do with lonely aged sick parent. The movie is about a brother and a sister trying to find a new home for their aging father who has no place to go. Excellent cast, brilliant screenplay, an outstanding movie.

Involved vs Committed

If you havent heard of it already: On your breakfast table, having egg and milk make chicken and cow involved in your meal, but when you have ham as well, sure, the chicken is still involved, but the pig is committed. Managers were always the seagulls, now they are chicken as well. No need to guess who the pigs are, right?