Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Like Father Like Son

Japan 2013


Details IMDB
Seen 8 September 2014

Ratings from other sources

IMDB 7.8/10


The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.




My ratings 8.0/10

My impressions:

Past events affect everyone involved whether we are a willing party or not. The efforts of the past lingers affecting the present. Do we forge ahead and forget the past and concentrate on the present and future? Those feelings that evolve through time do not disappear in an instant. Gently shall we go a step at a time.

Impressive ensemble acting backed by a well written script gave the story a believable feel. The child actors are a delight to watch.


Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

USA 2014


Details IMDB
Seen 3 September 2014

Ratings from other sources

IMDB 8.2/10

The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.





My ratings 8.0/10

My impressions:

A roller coaster, delicious smorgasbord of characters amidst an approaching war. The old era will end soon and a new outlook is on the horizon. That would not come to the fore until a few loose ends are tied up. Layers of human foibles are highlighted. The ensemble cast gave a rip roaring performance.

Delightful.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Congress

France 2013


Details IMDB
Seen 27 August 2014

Ratings from other sources

IMDB 6.7/10


An aging, out-of-work actress accepts one last job, though the consequences of her decision affect her in ways she didn't consider..




My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

What a wonderful idea. To be able to escape reality but how much do we want to immerse ourselves in that world. Reality is not always pleasant but despite its shortcomings, there is the assurance that what we encounter is for all intents and purposes the real situation. A hard choice when love comes into the equation. Or a simple decision with no guarantees of its consequences.

An engaging story.



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Exotica

Canada 1994


Details IMDB
Seen 12 July 2014

Ratings from other sources

IMDB 7.2/10


The 'Exotica' is a nightclub on the outskirts of Toronto, where Eric, DJ and MC, watches nightly as his ex-girlfriend Christina performs. A regular customer triggers mixed feelings for many.




My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

A place where customers spend a few hours forgetting their everyday lives. An escape from reality. As the proprietor says, it is a place for relaxation not of healing. Past entanglements plays a role in the present. Then we realise that those pent-up emotions have not disappeared but continued smouldering. A blow up triggers those feelings to the fore and we have to come to terms with the past.

The past, present and future interlinked.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Where is the Friend's Home? (Khane-ye doust kodjast?)

Iran 1987


Details IMDB
Seen 11 July 2014

Ratings from other sources

IMDB 8.0/10


An 8 year old boy must return his friend's notebook he took by mistake, lest his friend be punished by expulsion from school.






My ratings 8.0/10

My impressions:

Action speak louder than words. The desire to help a friend in need knows no bounds in this story. The journey, effort and hardship encountered while trying to help is most admirable. The adults might never be able to come close to this level of friendship. That strong will to do what is required. The right thing to do despite the obstacles.

It seemed ordinary at the beginning but the end was worth the wait.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Last Life in the Universe

Thailand 2003


Details IMDB
Seen 10 July 2014

Ratings from other sources

IMDB 7.7/10


A suicidal, obsessively compulsive Japanese librarian is forced to lie low in Thailand with a pot-smoking woman coping with the recent loss of her sister.






My ratings 7.5/10

My impressions:

There's a world of difference being alone and being lonely. A man and a woman find a common thread, an understanding of each other. Each has his own world. Not the normal working life but those who remain in the margins. They are driven by another force. Often times seeking solace in another who share the same journey.

Unlikely mates in another universe.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Three times (Zui hao de shi guang)

Taiwan 2005


Details IMDB
Seen 9 July 2014

Ratings from other sources

IMDB 6.9/10


Three stories set in three times, 1911, 1966 and 2005. Two actors play the two main characters in each story






My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

Three stories. Three different periods. A boy and a girl. A man and a woman. Love is the common thread. An unspoken longing for the other. Each couple has to find the strength to bring the relationship to the next level. They have to decide how to make it stronger and last.

Gentle look at love.



Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Antares

Antares

Austria 2004

Details IMDB
Seen 8 July 2014

Ratings from other sources

IMDB 6.4/10

A deadly car crash sets off three parallel stories of women at crisis points, faltering behind the doors of the same, plain Vienna apartment block





My ratings 6.0/10

My impressions:

Glimpses of ordinary lives, loves and desires. An apartment block that houses residents struggling with their inner selves. A love that has lost its spark. A love that needs constant assurance. A past love that keeps coming back to make its presence felt. All connected in unexpected ways.

Satisfying watch.


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Z

Z

France 1969

Details IMDB
Seen 7 July 2014

Ratings from other sources

IMDB 8.1/10


Following the murder of a prominent leftist, an investigator tries to uncover the truth while government officials attempt to cover up their roles





My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

The struggle between the new and the established. The conscience of one man pushed the envelope further. One by one, painstakingly trying to piece together what happened before the incident. Everyone knows there is a bigger power behind the scenes but the effort to pin them down is the main theme of the story. Whether the guilty get their just rewards, only history will tell.

A snapshot of one of the events leading to a new ruling class.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Old Boy (Oldeuboi)

South Korea 2003


Details IMDB
Seen 16 June 2014

Ratings from other sources

IMDB 8.4/10


After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days.






My ratings 8.0/10

My impressions:

The old wound festers until the right time arrives when all will be revealed. The wound might heal but scars remain as a reminder of what happened in the past. Was it worth the time and effort to wait for that day. Others are involved just because of that one incident in the past. That past is entrenched in the soul and the mind works to avenge itself.

Mesmerising.




Sunday, June 15, 2014

Pleasure Factory (Kuaile gongchang)

Singapore 2007


Details wikipedia
Seen 14 June 2014

Ratings from other sources

IMDB 5.4/10


The lives of pleasure seekers and pleasure providers intertwine one night in Singapore's red light district.






My ratings 6.0/10

My impressions:

The give and take in the pleasure dome. A microcosm of the society at large. Each has their own reasons going to the area. Each wants that moment of happiness, if possible to prolong it. How often will that come true. And others affected by your decision, will they be the same.



Friday, June 13, 2014

The Year of Living Vicariously

Malaysia 2005


Details IMDB
Seen 12 June 2014

Ratings from other sources

IMDB 6.3/10


A documentary made during the making of a feature film.


My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

Thoughts and opinions of the cast and crew of the film is the subject of the documentary. Many topics and questions are asked. Some even shared folk tales they remembered. All these against the backdrop of the goings-on during filming of a feature on an activiist during the 1960s.

The documentary and feature film coincidentally was filmed during the same time as the campaign for the first directly elected president of Indonesia. There was much hope of a better future for the nation. As a few respondents mentioned, the journey to reach that goal might take longer than expected given the entrenched system of the past. It is still a work in progress.


Sunday, June 01, 2014

Film Socialisme

Switzerland 2010


Details IMDB
Seen 31 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 5.8/10


Legendary director Jean-Luc Godard returns to the screen with Film Socialisme, a magisterial essay on the decline of European Civilization 



 


My ratings 6.0/10

My impressions:

The cinematography, juxtaposition of images and quotes, invites the audience into the mind of the director. The past will always have an effect on the present. Questions are asked to justify why certain decisions were made. Have past actions brought the results desired.

More and more questions surface. The answer is still uncertain.


Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Mill and the Cross


Poland 2011


Details IMDB
Seen 30 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 6.9/10

The film focuses on a dozen of the 500 characters depicted in Bruegel's painting. The theme of Christ's suffering is set against religious persecution in Flanders in 1564





My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

I was attracted by the three actors in the film, Rutger Hauer, Michael York and Charlotte Rampling. Having one of them would light up any story and having three gives a different glow to the entire proceedings.

Those who want a fast paced sequence of events should avoid watching this depiction of how a painting comes alive. Layers of paint are applied in each scene. Savour it slowly and you will be rewarded.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Korczak

Poland 1990


Details IMDB
Seen 29 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 7.5/10


Account of the last days of life of the legendary Polish pedagogue Janusz Korczak and his heroic dedication to protecting Jewish orphans during the war







My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

The atrocities of war affects everyone. In this case even children from the orphanage. The good doctor tries his best to save the children but what exactly can he do considering the situation. The plan to deport them had been set and any effort to change that decision is futile.

Fated being born of a certain group
That choice was not in our hands
Children with all their dreams and hopes
Are the same

Unfortunately
Tomorrow might not wait for them



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lost in Beijing (Ping guo)

China 2007


Details IMDB
Seen 21 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 6.8/10

A look at modern-day life in China's capital centered on a ménage-a-quatre involving a young woman, her boss, her husband and her boss's wife





My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

The life in a big city. The rich who has made it in life. In contrast those who are just starting, struggling trying to make a decent life. The big man who takes advantage of the weak, the wife who tolerates his wanderings.

Money in this story does not bring that happiness that everyone wants. It is ultimately just a tool, a means to a more comfortable life and a head start for the young. The young is always the priority.

Watch it for the scenes when the characters do not have to say a word but let questions linger.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Three Monleys (Üç maymun)

Turkey 2008


Details IMDB
Seen 20 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 7.4/10

A family suffers from a major communication breakdown during their struggle to get through their hardships.








My ratings 8.0/10

My impressions:

That first step, agreeing to be part of a plan in exchange for money is itself a harbinger of future disaster. All seemed so simple at the beginning but when your wants get the better of you, the plan goes awry.

The main actors hold the audience's attention with sparse dialogue relying instead on their facial attractions and body movements. They managed to convey that inner struggle each of them were facing during those uncertain times. No one knows of a definite answer.

Each event flowing
Like the waves in the ocean
Hurling itself to the shore
Before retreating

Back to a normal state


Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Hunt (Jagten)

Denmark 2012


Details IMDB
Seen 14 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 8.3/10

A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie






My ratings 8.0/10

My impressions:

Whenever a child is involved in a crime involving an adult, the sympathies will almost always be on that child's side. The accused adult has a hard time trying to prove his innocence. The incident automatically made everyone suspicious of the suspect. Even his circle of friends abandon and ostracise him.

The child actor managed to bring to the screen a believable tale. The silent moments and glances convey her inner turmoil effortlessly. A story that could happen anywhere as accusations is always easy to make. Unfortunately proving you have not done anything wrong is very difficult. The uncertainty remains for some.

A satisfying watch.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Don't drink the water

USA 1994


Details IMDB
Seen 13 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 6.3/10

Somewhere behind the early 1960s cold-war iron curtain, the Hollander family cause an international spying incident when Walter photographs a sunset in a sensitive region








My ratings 6.0/10

My impressions:

A Woody Allen would not be one without the rapid fire dialogue. In this story, that trademark is evident. That is also its failing in a way as the audience must be alert to catch all the little snippets. The cast worked well together as the director managed to bring out the best from each of them.

It not the best from Woody Allen but still entertaining.

Special circumstances bring
Different people together
However strange it may seem
Unbelievable even
Love blossoms

Mistakes, blunders, errors
Throughout the life of a man
They accompany him

Time for a change
To bolster your own self confidence
To forge a new life
A new destiny


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Ambassador

Denmark 2011


Details IMDB
Seen 12 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 7.3/10

Danish journalist Mads Brügger goes undercover as a Liberian Ambassador to embark on a dangerous yet hysterical journey to uncover the blood diamond trade in Africa






My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

A story that tries to show the inner workings of the blood diamond trade in Africa. Seen from the perspective of an outsider who is trying to pass himself off as a consul. That cover is supposed to make him immune from the usual checks when he travels to and from that country with lots of cash or diamonds.

A comedy at one level as it shows how unprepared the main character is when he faces difficult situations. A sad reality on another level. The danger and dealings are accepted routines in the country.

The daily lives of its citizens.
Far removed from the riches
Gained from the mineral abundant

The gains are for those in power
Those with connections

A wrong move
A wrong decision
Might signal the end of all plans

But others continue coming
Following their dreams
That one day
They will strike it rich