Archive for the ‘English Movie Review’ Category

Notes on a Scandal (2006)-English Movie starring Cate Blanchett, Judy Dench

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Aug 22 (Calcutta Tube): Notes on a Scandal is a 2006 English movie starring Cate Blanchett, Judy Dench in lead roles. The film has won four Oscars nominations and won 11 other awards and 35 more nominations.

[ReviewAZON asin="B000NIVJFY" display="inlinepost"]Set in the backdrop of London, ‘Notes On A Scandal’ is a psychological drama of friendship, betrayal, lust, jealousy, revenge and scandal. Judi Dench plays the the character of Barbara Covett, an old lonely spinster who teaches history in a London school and is hated by her colleagues. When comparatively young Sheba Hart joins the school Barbara puts all her attention on this new colleague. Barbara’s only company is her little cat, and she keeps a journal where she confesses everything. The journal is a  much of a lively entity for her and probably her only friend. She is vivid and describes everything as per her norms.

When Sheba joins the school Barbara writes about her in her diary, and develops a kind of relationship mentally with her, and writes about all her feelings and comments. They both come closer when two boys in Sheba’s class engage in fight and Barbara comes to her rescue. They introduce each other and start a friendly relationship. Barbara discovers her estranged family with an old husband, a freaky teenage daughter and a son suffering from Down’s syndrome.

[ReviewAZON asin="0141039957" display="inlinepost"]With time Barbara discovers Sheba’s physical relationship with a 15 year old school kid, Steven. Sheba confesses and thinks of resigning. But Barbara tells her that she would not complain if she will terminate the relationship. She uses this to emotionally blackmail Sheba to bring her more close to her – ‘to get everything without doing nothing.’ With time, she gets good hold of Sheba, who fights to manage time for both her new  friend and her family. However, Sheba does not stop her clandestine meetings with Steven.

But things change when Sheba cannot join Barbara when her cat dies. The pathetic old lady gets full with vengeance. She spreads rumors about Sheba’s relationship with Steven which in course reached the young lad’s mother. She goes straight to Sheba’s house and hits her in front of her family. Barbara is glad that all this has happened, and now that Sheba is in a mess at home, arguing with her husband and daughter, will eventually come to her for help.

Things turn out as Barbara has planned. Sheba moves into her apartment for some time. This is what the old lady has planned for from the very first day. But it is not long before Sheba discovers Barbara’s journals and comes to know about how her friend has betrayed her. Though, Steven has known who is behind all this. Sheba always thought that Steven has confessed to his mother about their sex affairs. She now realizes that it was Barbara who has done all this; she in fact never liked Sheba but just manipulated her. Sheba gets out Barbara’s place and yells madly at the media. Later she she goes back to her husband who takes her back.

Sheba gets 10 month imprisonment. Barbara has already got fired from her job. The film ends as Barbara befriends a woman, Annabelle. She is supposedly her new friend now.

The film has a terrific cast and a great script. Judy Dench as Barbara is excellent. She is cold, does a lot of talking with her gestures and eyes. Cate Blanchett is awesome in portraying troubled Sheba Hart with all her deficiencies, family problems and unable to resist to a tennager lover. The supporting actors are also good.

The director tells the story in a great style and a thriller element.

The film has a runtime of 92 mins and is rated R for some its content.

Now, Voyager (1942)-English Movie starring Bette Davis

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Aug 22, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Now, Voyager is 1942 English movie directed by Irving Rapper with Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains and others in the cast. Set in the backdrop of Boston, it is a story of self revelation and discovery of a woman, inconfident, unattractive who transforms into someone no one has ever dreamt her of to be.

[ReviewAZON asin="B0008ENIKM" display="inlinepost"]Bette Davis plays the protagonist, Charlotte Vale, a grown up lady who is under the strong dictatorship of her mother. Both have their own set of problems which seem to deviate from what we call normal. The constant emotional and verbal torture of her mother has developed severe personality problems for Charlotte, like extreme lack of self confidence and nervousness.

Luckily for Charlotte, his sister-in-law brings in Dr. Jaquith who takes her to his sanitarium for treatment. Charlotte finds a new life, a new reason for living. She is transformed into an attractive lady both bodily, and spiritually. Then when she is on a cruise to south America, she meets Jerry Durrance, a fine gentleman. Jerry is married, and yet they develop a relationship. Jerry has problems in his family, almost the same thing that Charlotte has, or least had, with her mother. But he is strongly attached to his daughter Tina.

During the trip when Charlotte and Jerry takes a car ride and meet and  accident, miss the cruise, they come even closer. But when the trip ends they both know that they will not meet each other in future.

Charlotte comes back home and starts a new life with her mother, where the old lady cannot outwit her anymore. Charlotte makes every move with intelligence and grace and writes about everything happening around her to her doctor. But when she breaks her engagement with a rich eligible widower, she and her mother gets into a row which causes her mother to have an heart attack. Devastated by this death, and feeling guilty for her part in the row she goes back to the sanitarium to find comfort.

There she sees a young girl who reminds her of her youth and takes interest in her and helps her cope her situation. The girl turns out to be Jerry’s daughter Tina. They both travel together and the doctor gives her permission to take Tina with her. They come back to Boston. When Jerry visits them, he realizes how happy Tina is with Charlotte. The relation that never developed between the mother daughter duo (for both women) has taken a successful turn here. Jerry leaves Tina with Charlotte, which again develops a new bond between them, though they cannot unite in life due to circumstances.

The casting is excellent. Bette Davis is excellent as Charlotte Vale and portrays her two different selves with dexterity. She looks gorgeous in her outstanding designer costumes. The camera work is good.

Davis was nominated for the Oscars Best Actress in leading role and Gladys Cooper as the Best Actress in supporting role while Max Steiner won the Oscars for the Best Music category.

The script is a strong is another backbone of the film which brings out the mathematics of the characters and their relationships. The distorted relationship between a mother and her child startles us.

Now, Voyager is a classic story to watch for all times.

Rango (2011)-English Movie Review

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

April 21, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Rango is a 2011 animation film directed by Gore Verbinski with voice overs by Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Timothy Olyphant and others. Read the film review at Calcutta Tube.

‘Rango’ – A rare, original animation film;

Director: Gore Verbinski;

Voiceovers: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Timothy Olyphant, Ned Beatty;

Rating: ****

[ReviewAZON asin="B003Y5H542" display="inlinepost"]In 1995, William Blake, an Easterner, went looking for a job in the Wild Wild West only for him to become the hunted. Blessed with a strange, surreal luck, he survived one misfortune after another.


Circa 2011, and William Blake from ‘Dead Man’ is back as a street smart chameleon Rango in an equally smart animation film. And this time Johnny Depp aka William Blake aka Rango, does not have to die.


Rango (Johnny Depp) is an extraordinary chameleon. Unlike others from his species, he has become so domesticated that he cannot blend in. However, his acting skills and luck help him befriend the townsfolk of Dirt, who believe his stories.


Yet, in trying to solve the problem of their dwindling water supply, not only will Rango be exposed, but also he will be forced to discover who he really is.


‘Rango’ is a film that will leave lovers of many cinematic genres on a high. It successfully blends breathtaking animation with spaghetti Westerns.


Yet, unlike many other films, it is not the animation that drives the story, but the quirky story that becomes the reason for every action in the film.


With a la Clint Eastwood from his westerns making a cameo as the spirit of the wild west, the film will endear to every lover of the Western genre.


However, despite a good dose of wit and humour, the film may not necessarily be suitable for children. And that is actually a good thing than bad.


It’s a wrong notion that animation is just for kids. The creative potential of animation to suit adult needs has rarely been attempted. Though the makers of this film are perhaps not deliberating attempting it, ‘Rango’ is indeed a step in that direction.


The film not only spoofs known cliches of spaghetti Westerns, but also uses the best of its elements to good effect and to create a different mood. It does the same with cliches from popular films like ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Chinatown’.


The metaphor of the film is against the modern notion of development. In the quest to control, human beings forget that there are other things that are dependent on that which we control.


Thus, while humans have built an oasis in the desert in the form of a city, all the characters in it, except a cameo, are small desert creatures, those that need and are thus bound by the bond of water that is perennially in a shortfall in the desert.


Johnny Depp is an actor who seems unable to make mistakes. Even when it is lending sound to a character, heavily inspired from one of his earlier films, he excels.


Combine that with imagination and creativity running amuck, a soundtrack that both spoofs and aptly uses cliche and some very creative conceptualisation, and you have in your hands an excellent, though quirky and different companion to both Dead Man and Chinatown.


Masters of the Western genres like Sergio Leone and John Ford would surely be grateful for this one for even they would be hard pressed to find a vision as original as this, either in their favourite ‘Western’ genre, or even in animation.


And thankfully, besides excellence in animation, in terms of the story and its message, ‘Rango’ refuses to tow the Pixar line. And that individuality in itself makes it a welcome change for many now bored with the creative predictability of Steve Jobs studio.

‘Unknown’ – Well known and cliche riddled

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

April 21, 2011 (Calcutta tube): Unknown is a 2011 English movie directed by Jaume Collet-Serra with Liam Neeson, January Jones, Aidan Quinn and others in the cast. Read the film review at Calcutta Tube.

Film: ‘Unknown’;

Cast: Liam Neeson, January Jones, Aidan Quinn

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra;

Rating: **1/2

[ReviewAZON asin="B004A8ZX2I" display="inlinepost"]Though there are indeed not many unknown things about this film – the audience has not lost their memory enough to forget either ‘Total Recall’ or the Bourne series – yet one man brings in a quite rectitude and gravity to his performance, lifting an otherwise predictable and average film. The man is Liam Neeson, who somehow seems unable to make a cinematic mistake.


After an accident in Berlin, American biophysicist Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) wakes up after four days in coma to find that another man (Aidan Quinn), claiming to be him, has taken his job and his wife (January Jones).


Even as he struggles to prove his identity, his life is threatened by a man determined to get him. Who are these people and who really is he?


To be fair, ‘Unknown’ is a sharp, believable thriller. However, at the surface, there’s not one original strand in the film.


And if you look deeper, you’ll find the same concepts, ideas, notions, plotlines, subplots… almost everything has not only been handled before, but handled in exactly the same way.


Hence it is surprising that the film is based on a book. If the book is anywhere close to the film, it would be one most heavily inspired by cinema. For it to be made into a film again, completes a strange circle.


Despite this, decent direction and Liam Neeson’s anguished performance of a man in search of his identity, raises the film from its mediocrity. And it is not the first time that Neeson has ventured into the action genre with success.


Though his ‘Taken’ was much better, it is only with an implausible plot like this one where not much else makes sense that the importance of a good performance stands out.


Though this is not an intended analogy of this or films in the same memory-loss genre, the metaphor can be looked upon as man’s eternal search and quest for his own identity, and of his place in the world.


And despite nothing else, it’s a worthy watch for someone who wants to jog ones memory of a very known plot.