Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Chaser (2008) - Korean Thriller

The problem that I face now a day is of a different kind, whenever I see an old movie – say which is like 10 years or more – is already remade in some other form. You pick up a foreign movie and realized it was already made again in our part of the world too. Similarly while going through my quota of Korean movies came across this movie last night and was shocked to realize right in the first ten minutes, that our “Murder 2” was a scene to scene copy of this one. Although they again changed it as per Indian taste and standards (Read – screwed it) but I wonder how in the hell they did not credit this one for the idea? Just read on Wiki that it was an unofficial remake of this movie. The less I say about Emran who plays the lead in our movie the better – if you see this one – you will curse him big time as the dude who plays the lead in Korean movie is simply outstanding – his body language, dialogue delivery, facial expressions – almost everything is simply superb. At times he reminded of “Irfan Khan”, they both actually talk and behave the same way. One hell of a movie this is – fantastic thriller with a damn good pace – not to be missed by any thriller lovers but mind it – some scenes are over the top typical Korean stuff. Even after having a run time of 2 hours – it never feels long – even while it ended I was looking forward to some kind of miracle hoping it will continue a little longer. 

Beautiful Seo Yeoung
The Movie: Starts with Eom Joong (Kim Yoon Seok) who is a former police officer, going through a financial crisis as couple of his prostitutes are missing – he has a hunch that one of his customers is selling them to someone. He sends one of his girls Mi Jin (Seo Yeoung) to a customer even when she is sick and is reluctant to go – later realizing that this was the same guy who had take the other missing girls as the last customer. He meets one of his friends in police and asks him to help tracing the missing girl but the cops are already busy as the mayor of Seoul is already in the town and someone had thrown shit on his face publicly. Its quite hilarious to see the whole episode of Mayor being attacked and culprit taken in custody while a female cop drives the vehicle and Eom’s friend curses the culprit for attack, who in place wants to take a leek but they refuse to give him a break. The pace is simply superb and so much happening onscreen keeps the audience hooked to their seats. While Eom looks everywhere for the missing girl with whatever address he has in records where she goes in his Jaguar, he does comes across the guy followed by a fantastic on foot chase, which is too close to reality, simply one of the outstanding scenes of the movie. All this while Eom is accompanied by 7 year old daughter of Mi Jin. There are so many small instances which actually touch your heart and make you connect well with the character of Eom, he isn’t a bad guy but stuck in a bad situation, the way he handles the kids, feeds her and takes care of her. He hopes to get her mother back at any cost although he is afraid of her being alive anymore too. The cold blooded killer is another highlight of the movie – the way he is shown on a killing spree is not everyone’s cup of tea, its brutal on your face stuff which at times is a little too much on unsuspecting audience. He is actually on a killing spree for no rhyme or a reason – explained during his interrogation in the police station while they catch him but had to let him go cause of no evidence found.

Seo Yeoung Tortured
The use of hammer and chisel by the killer is something you do not expect in the first place and the way it is shot is totally gross. My heart wished that Eom should be able to find Mi Jin alive and unite her with her daughter, the killer should get cause after so many murders and should be hanged – but I guess all wishes don’t come true. So was the case of this movie. You’ve got to watch the movie to know what happens next. It was a perfect Saturday night thriller for me – I was actually looking forward to some friends but couldn’t resist finishing the movie right on time as its pace was such that I simply couldn’t stop it and watch it later – I had to finish it one go. One more thing that I love about Korean movies is their awesome use of songs in the background – this too has some of the best songs although because of the language barrier – I couldn’t understand them – unfortunately the subtitles too aren’t there for those songs. It was a damn good watch and made me curse the Indian Director who made a Hindi movie out of it and screwed the originality. I guess they should have stuck to the original while remaking – it would have come out to be a great movie. Check out both the movies and decide for yourself which one is better.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Psycho (1998) - Horror / Thriller

My first encounter with a Horror movie dates back to mid 80’s, while watching the then horrors like “Evil Dead”, “Nightmare on Elm Street” etc my dad challenged us to sit through Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. I still remember that fateful night – when we bloody three brothers started that movie which was to be followed by another classic “The Birds”, I am sure I did not sit for more than 20 minutes and later refused to turn off the lights for like a week. My second stint with Psycho came in mid 90’s again when I got the DVD free with my first home theatre and again I did a mistake of trying to watch it again in the night – followed by the whole freaking weekend – I kept all the lights of my apartment turned on, was too scared to take calls on my phone and didn’t barge out of the house at all. My final and third opportunity came in late 90’s when the movie was again released on big screen – thanks to some ongoing film festival in Delhi. I and my best buddy in Noida dared ourselves to watch it on big screen this time and went ahead – booked our tickets. What followed was an out of this world experience guys. I actually saw half of the people specially girls with their boyfriends rushing out of the theater in flat first half hour (First Murder). We somehow set through the whole movie and totally loved it. I have still not forgotten its killer background score with 100 violins playing together in sync giving us Goosebumps all the time. It was shit scary and today I saw Gus Van Sant’s version of classic “Psycho” and will say only one sentence – this is how you make a drama cum thriller out of a terrific horror movie. I am now going to gather my guts again and watch the classic – once my wife comes back home.

Anne Heche and Vince Vaughn
The Movie: If you do not compare it with the original – it still can be called a damn good thriller at best - will certainly not call it a horror though. Fortunately they did not temper with the original story and kept it straight like the earlier version, with Marion Crane (Anne Heche) on run with her boss’s $400 thousand dollars. As she is being followed by a suspicious cop, she takes a break at a motel whose owner happens to be a psycho. Anne Heche as the girl was good for the role – I actually liked her – she was quite convincing in the character. Vince Vaughn was damn good as Norman Bates the psycho – I guess if the movie would have worked – this should have been called his best work to date, totally awesome job by him but unfortunately the comparisons were inevitable hence the failure. Norman Bates stays in a scary house with his Mother, who keeps shouting on him as we can over hear it from the motel, although she is never shown on screen but audience can definitely see a shadow in the window at times. The whole background of the motel even the house behind it – is almost scene to scene same – I wonder how they got something like that – it almost looked identical as in the original. I guess it doesn’t work for the audience because we already know what’s going to happen next hence no surprises. But for someone – who hasn’t heard or seen the earlier movie – it would still be a first rate thriller at least. After she is killed and dumped in a pond by Norman – she was followed by a private detective Arbogast (William H Macy) – who again gets killed in the same way. Fortunately before being killed – he lets Marion’s Sister Lila (Julianne Moore) know his location and some facts about her being in the motel etc. After Arbogast’s disappearance Lila joined by Marion’s boyfriend comes over to the motel in search of her sister and detective. They do meet the county sheriff and inform him of the disappearance of both the guys with no trace of money. What happens next – is a thrilling ride in the motel and that scary house behind it.

Julianne Moore
It is definitely a great one time watch for those who haven’t seen the original and if you have already seen it – it still works like a good thriller – I had those “Oh Fuck” moment twice while I saw it today. I am actually too scared to watch horror movies alone – hence I saw it on a sunny afternoon today but now I am planning to see the original with my wife that too in the night as she has no idea about the movie yet. I will be posting the experience shortly – keep reading. If you haven’t seen this – go ahead – take a look – who knows, you might end up liking it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Shoot on sight (2007) - Thriller

Movie Poster
A totally unexpected movie from a Director – I would never trust to make a good movie but then I realized he did made some meaningful movies by the end of his career. Otherwise his resume is full of crappy movies to say the least – some are actually a lesson in “How not to make movies”. But this one turns out to be a shocking and damn good movie made on such a serious subject. Based on the true incident of the London suicide bombings followed by “Shoot at sight” order by British Govt. The way it starts – right from the moment go – you get hooked to it and the drama unfolds and ends in a thrilling manner – although it’s predictable but it never loses steam and you are actually hooked to it may be because you want to see some positive ending. I totally liked it and will recommend it very highly to anyone liking movies based on reality with a good lesson in the end. Movie’s high point is its amazing cast – imagine – how easy it would be for Jag Mundhra to direct Naseeruddin as a good Muslim cop, Om Puri as an extremist priest always at war and Gulshan Grover as Naseer’s good friend. Brian Cox as Naseer’s boss is too good. All in all it’s a good time pass and worth onetime watch for sure. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the movie as wasn’t expecting it to be this good. I wonder why it didn’t make a name for itself as I never read about it anywhere and am glad that a friend recommended and I finally got it. Do not miss it.

Daughter & Nephew
The Movie: Starts with a thrilling chase with a couple of British Cops following a Muslim guy with a back pack and a wire attached to his bag connected to his ears. As if he is talking to someone and actually going to drop the back pack containing some kind of a bomb in a moving train he was about to board. Right as the train arrives, the cop intervenes and before even he could do anything, he is shot dead as he tries to take something out of his jacket pocket. Later it’s made clear that the guy was innocent – he was actually listening to music on his iPod and that’s why he couldn’t hear the warning given by cops. Cut to scene two we have Brian Cox briefing his junior officer (Naseeruddin Shah) who happens to be a Muslim to issue a statement to media. Naseer himself is going through a tough phase at office and at home both as his colleagues wont trust him as a cop even after so many years of service in the department and on the other hand – his teenage daughter who doesn’t listens to him and always lands him in some kind of trouble. She is going around with a friend of hers who Naseer doesn’t like one bit and always tells her to stay away from him, the dude is actually taking her for a ride and as usual the girl has no idea about. The drama is captured in such a subtle way that you actually sympathize with him. He is married to a British female and has two kids. His nephew joins them from Lahore who has come to London for further studies. The same week they go for prayer and we are introduced to extremist priest (Om Puri) who teaches his followers that world over Muslims are at war all the time as lots of Muslims are being killed for no rhyme or reason. There is a big difference between their beliefs though that’s why they do not agree with each other and take separate paths. Unfortunately at this stage movie becomes predictable and we know that Naseer’s nephew is certainly going to join hands with extremist group and what happens next is predictable yet thrilling the way they have shot it. His wife also has a doubt on his nephew, she has some evidence too but Naseer wouldn’t believe him. But when his colleague gets killed following a trail of suspicious people, he comes in action and realizes the gravity of the situation. Would he be able to save his nephew from their clutches? At what cost? How about his family? You’ve got to see the movie to answer all those questions and trust me – it’s too good to be missed. Although it doesn’t offers any solution to the problem neither it preaches anything but it just shows how so many innocents are being killed for no reason at all. A true story told in a damn good way.

Its title: Got me thinking – why “Shoot on sight” and why not “Shoot at sight” which is used more in talking terms. But if you see the movie you will realize the importance of that change – it’s totally awesome.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Hunger Games (2012) - Science Fiction

Movie DVD Cover
Another science fiction with such a damn good scope – unfortunately never works for me. The killer here is the length of the movie – almost 140+ minutes with nothing happening at times. I wonder, what was the point of such a long introduction of almost an hour showing all the CGI – flying train, those buildings, amphitheater, where everyone is just waiting for the games to begin. Made me wonder – do they even work? Or they just wait the games to begin every year? What are the other sources of entertainment for a society like 50 years from now – I guess that’s the period that they are talking about in this movie – although never mentioned clearly but with technological advancement – you can guess that much. The actual action starts almost an hour from the start of the movie and that too isn’t that great to watch – nothing new – just run of the mill stuff – I guess the TV series “Survivor” I found better than this one. Another reality show based movie – I was shocked to read the collections on Wiki – simply WOW – dunno what others liked in this one – it was too long too bland for me. Jennifer Lawrence in lead and Woody Harrelson as her mentor was the saving grace for me with Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland wasted in thankless roles. Cant even call it a one time watch – It certainly doesn’t have a repeat value either. If you haven’t seen it yet – trust me – you are not missing something. But if you have seen it – please tell me what did I miss?

The Cast
The Movie: Starts in some North American country with a wealthy and technological advanced Capitol surrounded by 12 poor districts. As a punishment to the districts they have a tradition of picking up two candidates each aged between 12-18 from all the districts – collected for a death match. All have to participate and the names of one girl and one boy from each sector is picked up randomly, one survivor wins the prize every year and we witness the 74th Hunger Game. It actually starts off on a very high note with protagonist Katniss Everdeen (played by hottie Jennifer Lawrence) is shown hunting a deer with bow and arrow – my hopes soared to roof top. Further advanced when they pick them up randomly and Katniss volunteers for her younger sister who was actually picked up for the game with a guy who she already knows from the colony as the bakery guy, who helped her once by offering her bread when her family was starving. Finally they are put up on a flying train of sorts traveling at 200 mph to reach the Capitol where the big games will start with 22 more contenders from other 11 districts fighting for survival with them in a jungle. After a lot of CGI made buildings and areas we reach the grand theatre where they all are introduced to us in a colorful ceremony which had me yawning all the way – waiting for real action to begin. They all have their own mentors, our girl and boy get Woody Harrelson (one of my favorites) as theirs who has hardly anything to teach them. I was surprised to see Lenny Kravitz in a thankless role – dunno why and how he signed up to do that silly role – why of all?

Hottie Jennifer Lawrence
Finally, the game begins when they are transported in glass tubes to the jungle they are supposed to survive. Here we realize that some contestants were actually trained from birth to prepare for these games – they make their own teams and start killing the lesser mortals – in no time half the contestants are gone. Katniss’s own friend from her sector goes against her and joins the rival gang in tracking her initially. By the time I realized where it’s going – it went on to become too predictable with almost no chilling, thrilling, killing or action moments. It was been there seen that stuff from this point and had a predictable ending. Nothing surprised me like sponsors sending goodies and tools to help their favorite contestants; everything is watched live by the audience including the sectors from where the contestant came etc. Games administrators making it tough for them at times by launching new adventures and stuff – what I disliked big time about the movie was its length – I found it to be over stretched. I am sure had they worked on its length a bit – it may have made me happy. But the box office figures are too good for the movie – it almost made 4 times more than what it was made up of – and that is quite a good deal. Although, I am yet to find a friend in my circle who liked this movie – let alone loving it. It has its own good moments too but they are too few and hardly deserve a mention. I was surprised to see that it can’t even be called an average one time watch and seriously have no multiple viewing values either. 

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977) - Hindi Movie

Another “Satyajit Ray” classic which made us laugh big time and was a great lesson in History. With that fundoo casting starting from Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Amjad Khan, Richard Attenbrough, Tom Alter, Victor Banerjee in damn good characters with Shabana Azmi, Farida Jalal and Farookh Sheikh in small roles, narrated by none other than Big B himself. It was a fantastic watch after so many years – I had hardly any memory of this one in mind other than two passionate chess players – playing the game day in day out. That’s what they do – come what may – not a day that they wont play the game – revolution or no revolution – even while the country gets captured by East India Company – they look out for a new place to play their game since their respective wives ban them from playing the game in their havelis. Life goes through such an important phase yet their games continue at the same pace – even when they run out of space to play the game – it’s heartening to see their passion for the same. One hilarious take this one was – not to be missed by classic movie lovers at any cost. I guess this one is the only Hindi movie Ray made and what a great one it is.

The Movie: Story of two passionate chess players of Indian Kingdom Awadh – whose capital is Lucknow and their Nawab Vajid Ali Shah – who is being over thrown by East India Company. It is definitely debatable – if it’s the story of two chess players or the nawab – but whatever it is – indeed it’s a great movie with fantastic comic timing and an important lesson in history of the nation India as what went wrong and what they should have done instead to save it from the clutches of British. Mirza Sajjad Ali (Sanjeev Kumar) and Mir Roshan Ali (Saeed Jaffrey) are inseparable friends – who do nothing all day but play chess. Their Nawab Valid Ali Shah (Amjad Khan in a lovable role) is going through a tough phase of his life as he is being over thrown by British yet he is too busy with his 400 concubines and 30 temporary wives and all. He is an Artist and Poet busy in music and entertainment more than he is in command of his army and loyal ministers. More than that the story of Sajjad Ali and Roshan Ali is too good to be true. Its hilarious to see their passion for the game – they are hardly ever there for their families. Even when they are thrown out by Sajjad Ali’s wife – they end up going to the others house to pass on their day playing chess. When even that, goes out of their hands – they end up going to a remote village to play chess – while the country goes out of Nawab’s hand – they are still busy playing their game.

Scenes with Amjad Khan as Nawab are too good – I never knew he was such a good actor – even his prime minister played by Victor Banerjee was too good in a short role. Richard Attenbrough as General James Outram is too good and Tom Alter as Capt. Weston (Outram's aide de camp) is fantastic – the way they communicate in English and Hindi is too good. One of the best part of the movie is its narration done by Amitabh Bachchan – I read on wiki that Satyajit Ray was too impressed by him but couldn’t find a role doing justice with him hence end up taking him as a narrator and I guess it works big time in the movie. It was quite a surprise for us to see rather hear him narrate the story. It’s a damn good watch for all Satyajit Ray fans – we enjoyed it thoroughly.

Il Mare (2000) - Korean Movie

Another fantastic Korean movie – a total delight as far as the subject, visuals, cast, background score and even a couple of songs – which unfortunately I couldn’t understand due to the language and no subtitles – although the movie is with subtitles but they don’t run them for background songs – how sad is that. I saw its American version "The Lake House (2006)" last year – starring two of my favorite actors from Hollywood – Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. Still I would rate this higher than its American counterpart in content and visuals; I believe Koreans make better movies than Americans for sure – when it comes to content and quality. It is actually a "time-transcending love Story", Imagine two protagonists living in two different times are able to communicate with each other – guy is in year 1998 living in a house where the same girl stayed but is now in year 2000 staying at an apartment which is under construction during his time (1998). Confused? We too were and till this evening we both debated our part of stories – but the question is – will they ever meet? Would they be having any memory of each other if they meet in 1998 or in 2000? You’ve gotta watch it to know what happens and trust me – is too good.
The House The Movie: Starts with the guy moving in to a sea side house called Il Mare meaning “The Sea”. He gets a note in the letter box from a girl who stayed their previously, requesting the new tenant to forward her mails to the new address but to his surprise the note was dated as year 2000, whereas the time that he lives and moves to this place was still year 1998. He takes it as a joke played by some one on him – moves on to live in the house and even finds a little dog too which he keeps gladly as a companion. He lives a reply note in the letter box and realizes after a couple of communications that they were indeed able to write each other even after a gap of two years in their times. They can even share some stuff like a tape recorder and fishes during the course of communication. They keep writing each other – almost fall in love too but since they could never technically meet – give up on love and stay friends. It’s actually fantastic to see that they do cross each other in real life too but since the girl has no memory of him in year 1998 – they are not able to communicate. Through their letters the girl sends the guy to an amusement park with instructions what to do – how to have a good time – he does and is quite happy. Similarly he sends her to a restaurant where he books a wine bottle to be opened two years later from his time and she gets it too in the same place. At one point they do set up a date and time where they plan to meet – but unfortunately they couldn’t.
We saw this movie together and almost paused it couple of times to debate – me and my wifey actually had a great time watching it as both of us had our own views to share on the same – wifey called it technically flawed but as we reached the ending – we were actually convinced that – yes – it is technically true too – but that again – is quite debatable. Finally, the girl remembers at one point that she indeed saw an accident sitting in a restaurant while a guy was run over by a car – she realizes it was the same guy – she’s been communicating, who was coming to meet her on that fateful day. She tries her level best to reach the lake house and leave a note for him to not to turn up on the day of the accident. We were totally hooked to see – whether the guy gets the note or not – will she is able to save him? The more important thought was – whether they will meet ever? You’ve got to see the movie to get answers to all those questions and I guarantee you – even after you finish the movie – you will be discussing about the same about its ending. We were talking about the same till the evening and reached to a conclusion that – it is possible but quite a fun watch. Must not be missed by any drama cum love story lovers – you will surely enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) - Thriller / Super Hero

Disclaimer: Chris Nolan is one of my favorite Directors and Batman is one of my favorite Super Heroes. I love em both and I loved the Trilogy (Batman Rises Included) – read further if you have no issues with someone bragging about it: What a man (Nolan), what a movie (Dark Knight Rises) and what a damn good guy Wayne (Batman / Chris Bale) is. Totally Fantastically Awesome. Again, like all other Nolan movies – this movie’s built up is too long yet once that’s taken care – there is no looking back and you know it before it does that Dark Knight has to rise and save his city / world at any cost and how he rises – is simply mind-blowingly amazing. Right from the beginning – when the masked man is introduced to us with that Airplane hijack stunt and how he captures that scientist amidst mid air – is adrenalin pumping stuff – although it did made me smile ear to ear – but I kept asking for more and wasn’t impressed that much as I would be at least from Mr. Christopher Nolan’s standards. But there is too much to come so – no worries yet. Bruce Wayne may not be that charming like Ironman, he may not have powers like a spidey but when he says something with that dress / mask on – you better pay attention – it gives me Goosebumps when I hear him speak from the dark and appear in flesh with shining eyes.

Although we had a damn better introduction of him in first part with a brief on his car and emotional side. Had a damn great earth shattering experience in the second with an equally or shall I say a Joker who was better than him with that Car cum Bike of his in second. Third one has hardly anything new to offer – almost nothing – no new gadgets even – yet – I was hooked to it cause it had enough with a young cop leaving no stone unturned in saving the city’s people, Gordon bed ridden but unstoppable still, Batman supported by beautiful and mischievous Cat woman, Fox back to help him with gadgetry, Alfred fired yet caring. What all one wants in a movie? C’mon dude – be happy that you get to see how it ends. The villain – masked man – is again heavy on Batman this time – as he kicks his ass big time and almost kills him – I wonder why he leaves him to live or shall I say to rise again. That particular scene where Wayne tries to get out of that well and fails, had me on the edge of the seat and I prayed he succeeds next time. When he does it a second time without harness and gets stuck half way on one stone and bats fly all across him – all the Batman fans knew it – he is going to go out this one time and how he does is simply amazing, you’ve got to see it to believe it. How it all ends had my throat choked – even wifey couldn’t believe it and kept elbowing me – “Are they going to kill him? As this is the last part of the series may be?” – I kept shaking my head in disbelief from left to right as I couldn’t speak literally. SPOILERS AHEAD: When I finally see Alfred – again in that restaurant waiting for his dream to fulfill with a faint smile and shake of head – I take a sigh of relief that yes!!! He is alive and gets a better life. This indeed became one of those few movies – which had me smiling with tears in my eyes and we bid adieus to our favorite Super Hero – till world needs him back – he has to Rise again in the very near future.

As one of my very good friend, advised me to see the first two installments in advance before going for the final. I am glad I saw them back to back in last two days and it made a big sense – it did had a connect and made it easy for me. Nevertheless – if you haven’t seen them – you will still enjoy it as an individual movie for sure. The only thing you need to understand is – his movies are smooth, slow, a little dark, may require your attention too at times but will never disappoint you. I am already up for a second helping with friends tomorrow – who have missed it so far. I actually want to know of those guys who complained that they couldn’t understand what masked man was saying – “Dude, did u see it on a pirated copy?” it was totally clear to me – I had no issues understanding him at all, rather I loved the way he spoke with that mask on. Nothing in this movie turned me off – I totally loved it and will recommend it to one and all as a must watch thriller – not to be missed at any cost. Yes, they could have done a little better with Cat Woman on board but that’s alrite – she gets to do it some other day. Commissioner Gordon that too bed ridded for that long while his city is gone to criminals is a little over done – I didn’t expect him to be on bed that long – but that’s alrite – some liberty given to the Director. Bane’s story too is good and the way twist comes by the end – it does surprises you. I was anyways expecting Ra’s Ghul to make an appearance in this one – I was literally glad to see it happen. Although, couldn’t predict it – my guesses were all wrong. All said and done – I am going to miss my favorite Batman for as long as they make another one on him. But now, I am glad to have another Trilogy in collection with 10 hours of damn good footage and action. Looking forward to a long weekend when I can see all three of them back to back.