rishiramesh1's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews


Peter Morgan re-teams with Ron Howard after 2008's "Frost/Nixon" and this time he takes on Formula 1 and in particular the electrifying 1976 season that saw Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) battle each other for the top spot. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Morgan's "fictionalised" biographies right from "The Queen", "Frost/Nixon" and "The Damned United" and he doesn't disappoint one bit this time either. He is adept at it and with a subject such as this he excels every bit. Those of you unfamiliar with what happened at the 1976 F1 season its best not to read about it and for those who know well the thrill doesn't diminish one bit. This is as much about human drama as it is about an account of rivalry between two radically different individuals. There is the driven, committed almost hermit-like Lauda pitted against the showy, flamboyant Hunt. Beautifully shot with some top notch performances especially Bruhl who is spot on as Lauda, not to take away anything from Hemsworth, this is one of Howard's best works that should stand alongside "Frost/Nixon" and "Apollo 13".


"Lootera" is a lovingly crafted rarity, a big budget Bollywood offering that makes no compromises and sticks to conviction. Meticulous to detail, richly photographed and lavishly mounted this is a piece of work that not only is a feast to the eye but tugs at your heart strings and does it rather painfully. Varun (Ranveer Singh) and Palkhi's (Sonakshi Sinha) love story is touching, poignant and heart breaking and as good as it gets for any romantic. Sonakshi and Ranveer carry their roles extremely well, particularly Sonakshi as the mischievous and spoilt Palkhi who's world turns upside after she falls in love with the mysterious Varun. The two are ably supported by veteran Barun Chanda, Arif Zakaria and Divya Dutta along side a scene stealing turn by Vikrant Massey as Deb, Varun's associate.

The cinematography is sheer poetry with the 1950s sets painstakingly created to such authentic detail. The whole idea behind the film seems to have germinated from O Henry's short story "The Last Leaf" whose story however only takes up the last act. The film is a testament to how much Hindi Cinema has evolved over the last few years with the advent of a niche market known as the classes. Just as I was beginning to warm up to the idea of looking forward to more such gems I was rudely brought back to reality in the form of a three minute drivel - the trailer of "Chennai Express" - Hindi Cinema is not entirely out of the doldrums - atleast not yet as long as there still is an audience for the likes of "Shower Rock Can" and co. There is hope though in the form a new brigade of film makers such as Tigmanshu Dhulia, Sujoy Ghosh, Reema Kagti, Dibankar Banerjee and ofcourse Anurag Kashyap, in the meantime I am going to check out Vikramaditya Motwane's first venture "Udaan".

Searching for Sugar Man

This year's Best Documentary winner at the Oscars, "Searching for Sugarman" is a fairy tale and a fantastical one at that. It tells the story of Sixto Rodriguez a Rock Icon who didn't know he was one. Rodriguez made a couple of records in the late 60's after being discovered at a local bar in Detroit by record producers who saw immense potential. His second record sold just 6 copies in the US and he was promptly dropped by the label following which he simply disappeared in to obscurity. Halfway across the globe a bootlegged copy of "Cold Fact" his first album made it's way on to South Africa and spawned anthems for the anti apartheid movement turning Rodriguez in to a legendary icon. He was more popular than Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and the Beatles but he knew nothing about it and South Africa knew nothing about him either other than the fact he was American and that he was dead. Rumours circulated that he had committed suicide on stage by setting himself ablaze or by shooting himself and that was all they knew about him. Eventually two fans in the late 90s set out to discover what happened to him and this documentary is all about that. A brilliantly structured feature more so considering the limited footage and the lapse of time between the late 90s and now this is a remarkable achievement though from a Documentary Feature perspective one may sense flaws. What grips the viewer is the mystery surrounding the search and then eventually the moving account of one talented individual unlike any celebrity that you may have known. Watch this even if you're not one for documentaries, if this doesn't move you nothing will. Produced by the same Simon Chinn, the man behind the Oscar winning "Man on Wire" and directed by debutante Malik Bendjelloui.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

"Beasts of the Southern Wild", the indie darling and eventual Oscar contender of 2012 is a magical piece of work from first time director Benh Zeitlin (the other Ben that got nominated!). This is unlike anything I have seen before and probably will. The film tells the tale of a struggling but proudly defiant Bayou community living beyond a levee in a watery part of Louisana which is constantly threatened by storms and the rising sea levels. The central characters are six year old Hush Puppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) and her ailing father, Wink (Dwight Henry) who along with the rest of the close knit community overcome a particularly bad storm. The film mixes environmental issues like the melting of the polar caps, social issues such as the squalor in which the impoverished community lives and fantasy as see through the eyes of Hush Puppy. The result is a strange visceral experience though fascinatingly gripping. Zeitlin is a force to reckon with and this has to be one of the most astounding directorial debuts in a long time. Both the main performances are terrific with the little Wallis already creating history as the youngest Best Actress nominee ever.


This has to be certainly Steven Spielberg's most challenging venture to date. Bringing to life on screen the most beloved President of the United States of America and focussing on the final tumultuous days of life is not an easy task, the end result though is not just a fascinating character study but also an insight in to the wheelings and dealings of politics during that period. Set in 1865, the film focuses on the last few months of Abraham Lincoln's life when he struggles to pass the 13th Amendment with the hope of putting an end to the Civil War. The film is uplifted by a towering performance from Daniel Day-Lewis who lives the part and is simply unrecognisable, what you see is Lincoln himself and not the Day-Lewis you knew. This is a pure class and truly expected from an artist that Time Magazine recently referred to as "the greatest actor". Sally Field shines as Mary Todd Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones has some of the best lines in the role of Thadeus Stevens in a scene stealing part that has seen him win some accolades already. The film though belongs to Day-Lewis and Spielberg for having the courage of handling something as risky as this and pulling it off.


There are several reasons one goes to the Cinema, for some of us it is for a good laugh, for some to enjoy a good story and then there are the action aficionados. "Amour" is not what I would call a good reason to go to the cinema. Michael Haneke is not everyone's cup of tea, the head scratching "Das Weisee Band" and the gripping but inconclusive "Cache" has proved that. With "Amour", Haneke atleast has a story to tell but again not one most of us would like to listen to. The story revolves around an octogenarian couple, both retired musicians who obviously have had a very long fruitful marriage but whose love for each other is tested when the wife suffers a stroke that leaves her partially paralysed. The devoted husband (Jean-Louis Trintignant) now nurses his wife (Emanuelle Riva) knowing very well that it can only "go steadily downhill for a while till it is all over" , the way he puts it to their only daughter (Isablelle Huppert). Haneke employs his usual stark, merciless approach that we have come to known until it gets to a point where one is uncertain if we want any more. What holds the film together are the performances, Emanuelle Riva is simply superb and has been deservedly feted for her performance which includes a pending Oscar nomination making the 85 year old it's oldest acting nominee. It is a pity that Trintignant hasn't received similar recognition for his equally outstanding turn from the international community though he is no stranger in France. I am unable to understand the adulation this work as a whole has received including it's numerous nominations (Best Director and Best Picture) which has been at the cost of other much deserving films. I'll need to watch "Django Unchained" once again to undo the psychological damage this has caused me.

Zero Dark Thirty

After the triumph that "The Hurt Locker" was Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal tackle a more difficult subject that is the decade long hunt for the most wanted man on the planet in "Zero Dark Thirty". I can't think of a better team to handle a subject such as this than these two and the result is quiet simply the best film of the year for me personally. This is a text book example of how a docu-drama needs to be made, a water tight script, lack of character development and a riveting climax (inspite of the lack of suspense).The film begins with a title that states that it is based on first hand accounts but this is debatable considering the way the CIA operates, nevertheless even if somebody like Maya (Jessica Chastain) never existed or if she embodies the team that pursued Bin Laden what we witness definitely is gripping and a perfect example of film making and screen writing at it's best. Bigelow and Boal stay away from the usual heroisms that one is so used to seeing and the jingoism is all stripped out with the opening torture sequences. This is as realistic as it can get considering that the two may not have actual access to classified information obviously. It is a travesty that Bigelow (and Affleck) have been snubbed this year by the Academy in the Best Director category, but ever since "Crash" won Best Film in 2005 I don't know what to expect at the Oscars. Chastain, the hardest working actor in Hollywood today is perfect for the role of Maya, bereft of all glamour she embodies the obsessed, driven, single minded agent. Jason Clarke as the interrogation expert impresses too in what could be a career making turn. Ultimately two individuals build this landmark achievement and they are Bigelow and Boal in a partnership I truly hope will produce more such gems.

Django Unchained

A Tarantino film is an event and his seventh feature (count the two "Kill Bills" as one the way he likes it) is a treat to watch. The genre bending maverick juxtaposes a spaghetti western with a blaxploitation fable the end result of which is another master piece called "Django Unchained". Set two years before the beginning of the American Civil War this is a tale of a slave, Django (Jamie Foxx) who teams up with a German silver tongued, non-practising dentist bounty hunter (you find them only in a Tarantino flick), Dr. King Schultz (the incomparable Christoph Waltz) to free his wife from the clutches of the merciless land baron Calvin Candie (Leonardo Di Caprio). What ensues is typical Tarantino fare, lengthy conversation pieces that have you in splits, blood and gore that will have you squirm and some brilliant score, all typical of a Tarantino extravagance. Finally, the acting, Foxx plays Django with his typical flair, considering this was a role written for Will Smith, it is no mean feat from the Academy Award and Grammy Winning multi faceted actor. The stand outs however are Samuel Jackson as a house slave, Di Caprio in his first villainous role since "The Man in the Iron Mask" and ofcourse Waltz himself who is simply brilliant beyond words. Truly another gem from one of the most exciting film makers of our generation!

Life of Pi
Life of Pi(2012)

Yann Martel's supposedly unfilmable Man Booker Prize winner comes to life in spectacular fashion under the expertise of Ang Lee. Technology and 3D have seldom been put to better use to bring to celluloid philosophy and religious musing that one witnesses here. What appears to be an adventure of an Indian boy cast away at sea on a life boat with a Bengal Tiger for company is not actually that if you're familiar with the source material. This is a tale filled with metaphors and allegories with a twist at the end that leaves asking yourself many a question. The opening sequence where the camera pans across the zoo where the first part of the story is set is set to a haunting Hindustani score by Mychael Danna and puts you in to the perfect mood for what ensue. The extent to which technology is used is quite evident with sequences such as the one with the sperm whale and the flying fish and most of all the entire character of Richard Parker, the Tiger. The team that created him should have been nominated for a "Supporting Actor" Oscar! Newcomer Suraj Sharma as Pi Patel is outstanding and especially so considering most of his sequences were shot with him on a boat by himself in a fairly large tank in Taiwan imagining the presence of Richard Parker. Irfan Khan who rarely disappoints excels as the older Pi Patel and narrator of this extraordinary tale. "Life of Pi" thoroughly deserves the 11 Oscar nods it has received and will go down in history as a game changer.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I approached this with very little expectations as being familiar with the source material I never believed it was a good idea to adapt to a motion picture let alone in three parts. Yes, the studio's commercial interests in trying to recreate the magic of the "Lord of the Rings" is quiet plain to see when you make a decision such as this to split a 300 page book in to a 3 part 10 hour movie. I am happy to state that I was grossly wrong on all counts! "The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey" is a delightful experience! Gloriously depicted in not just 3D but 3D HFR (High Frame Rate) this is not just a leap forward technically but Peter Jackson successfully retains the soul of middle-earth in this heart warming tale of 12 dwarfs setting out to reclaim their lost kingdom of Moria from the Dragon, Smaug the Magnificient. There maybe complaints of the slow pace especially from viewers not familiar with the book however fans of Tolkien will delight at the way Jackson goes in to every detail of the story which he couldn't with LOTR. Martin Freeman (BBC's "Sherlock") is perfect as Bilbo Baggins with tremendous support from Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield and Ian McKellen ever so brilliant as Gandalf the Grey. This may never quite equal the standards of the LOTR Trilogy and it was never meant to, being a prequel that Tolkien had intended for young readers laced with humour and lacking all the dark tones of the trilogy. However, on it's own this is truly masterful film making.

Silver Linings Playbook

" Silver Linings Playbook " is truly got to be one of the best films I have seen this year. Coming from David O' Russel who seems to be on a roll after that misstep of a few years ago called " I heart Huckabees " this is quiet a departure from his memorable " The Fighter " of two years ago. The story follows the travails of Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) both of whom are trying to overcome tragedies that have almost destroyed their lives. Pat is just out of a mental institution after a stint there due to an altercation with his wife's lover that led to the discovery of him having a bipolar disorder. Tiffany is dealing with the death of her fiancee in a rather unconventional manner which I wish not to elaborate on. They discover each other and it is then a typical " I scratch your back, you scratch mine " situation which finally leads to a bond developed between them and then the discovery that they can't do without each other. What starts off as a quirky telling of our rather disturbing times plods along a rather rocky path to a romantic finale and a thoroughly satisfying one at that. This is an actor's film and all player seem to dig in to their parts, old horse Robert De Niro appears as Pat's dad in one of his best performances since God knows when! Cooper truly was a revelation to me, hell ! the guy can act, I just hope he stays away from any more of those " Hangover " garbage and builds on this a la Tom Hanks. Lawrence can hardly disappoint, she is phenomenal! This is a career to watch out for. A thoroughly satisfying fare!


Ben Affleck scores a perfect "hat trick" with his latest "Argo". After two gems, "Gone baby Gone" and "The Town" Affleck returns to the Director's chair to take on his most ambitious project yet which is based on the "Canadian Caper" that follows events post the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Quiet a departure from his last two works this is also the first time the Director is handling a script he hasn't written. Though several liberties may have been taken with the actual events in order to turn up the dramatic effects here the makers have painstakingly recreated the era that renders an extremely authentic feel to the viewer. You know the events and you know the outcome yet it's gripping and tension filled and that is the hall mark of a supremely talented film maker. Affleck has joined the A-listers with this one in what is turning out to be a glorious career behind the camera. On a personal note this one does seem a notch down from the previous two films and I get the feeling there seems to be pressure to pander to the academy after the snubs his last two efforts received. The fan in me also wished that he hadn't donned the lead role, though it was a memorable turn no doubt. Well we certainly have someone to take on the mantle from Clint Eastwood now. Take a bow Mr. Affleck!

De rouille et d'os (Rust and Bone)

Jacques Audiard's follow up to his 2009's "Un Prophete" though a step down from that highly acclaimed work is still an emotionally rich experience packed with outstanding performances. This at times difficult to watch gritty drama is for mature audiences and not the candy floss romance drama that one is used to. Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) is an unemployed drifter who has just been given sole custody of his son and seeks refuge at his sister's place in the south of France with the hope of beginning a new life there, the other central character being Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) who is a killer whale trainer. Ali finds a job as a bouncer at a local club where he runs in to Stephanie who gets caught in the middle of a scuffle. Their paths cross once again a few months later but now Stephanie's life has changed forever after a horrific accident at work has left her wheel chair bound. A relation ship slowly develops between the two which ultimately changes their lives forever. The relationship between an emotionally battered Ali and a physically battered Stephanie is brought out expertly by Audiard with several vignettes that touches the viewer in many ways. This is an actors film at the end of it all and the lead players give it their best. It is relieving to see Cotillard going back to her french roots for the first time since her Oscar win of 2008 after all the eye-candy roles that she's been doing in Hollywood. She truly is one of the finest actors of our generation and this performance proves that. My only grouse here was the characters felt a little underwritten, we do not really understand what Ali has been through to make him so immune to emotions at first and also not much is really know about Stephanie too. A lot is left to the viewer's imagination, otherwise this was a very satisfying experience.


James Bond has come a long way since the days of "Dr. No" and this couldn't be more evident since Daniel Craig stepped in to those shoes in 2006. What we have now is a new Bond, not one that many faithful to previous incarnations may take a liking to but what truly seems to be what is needed for the times we live in if he is to retain any relevance. "Skyfall"is unlike any Bond movie that we have seen and at the same time quite old fashioned. You have a sense of the old Bond in glimpses albeit and at the same time you think this isn't the Bond we have come to know. Full marks to Sam Mendes for pulling this off successfully, Marc Forster did make a honourable attempt the last time around but didn't quite get it right. The keyword here seems to be "personal", for once we have a baddie not hell bent on blowing up the world to smithereens but out on a personal vendetta and with Bond we finally know where it all began. This isn't drama all the way, hell no! you have some of the best action set pieces ever seen, the opening sequence is killer and the title song one of the best in years (can Adele do any wrong?). Sam Mendes managed to gather quiet an illustrious bunch of artists for this outing which is understandable for the first Oscar winning director to ever helm a Bond project, besides the regulars we have Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem and good old Albert Finney. Bardem is one helluva baddie and takes off from where he left at "No country for old men", the first confrontation scene with Bond is bound to go down in history as a classic. I wondered what Fiennes was doing here, seemed like an awful waste till the conclusion (A spoiler I am not revealing). Dench and Craig are excellent as always. Craig seems to have evolved quite a bit since Royale and I do seriously hope he continues for at least a couple of more outings. Though this may not be the Bond that purists identify with but this is definitely the one we deserve!


Ridley Scott returns to his "Alien"/"Blade Runner" roots in a rather ambitious manner with "Prometheus". Though the film begins with a stunning opening sequence, which I admit is unlike anything I have ever seen before, the plot wades through a familiar territory especially so if you're familiar with the "Alien" films. Gorgeous to look at with it's visual grandeur one tends to miss a lot of unanswered questions which returns only after you're done with the film and these unanswered questions of course leave the possibility of a necessary sequel. Fassbender is excellent as the devoted Android and Rapace very impressive in the first English language film that I have seen of hers (just didn't have the energy for the Sherlock Holmes sequel). This is one of those films that needs to be watched on the big screen, which unfortunately I couldn't, if not watch it in full HD with those Dolby Digital Surround Sound, nothing less does justice.

Aaranya Kaandam

A stunning, riveting depiction of a day in the lives of a bunch of gangsters set in Northern Chennai, "Aaranya Kaandam" is classic neo-noir in a Tamil milieu unlike anything you have ever seen. You have them all an aging impotent mobster boss, back alley chases, Mexican stand offs with knives that is and a shocking twist, all backed up by some extraordinary performances. Tamil cinema has been going through a renaissance of sorts during the last 3-4 years beginning with Ameer Sultan's "Paruthiveeran" with directors like Sasikumar and Myshkin forming a brigade of young film makers bringing about this change. Director Thiagarajan Kumararaja seems to have clearly drawn inspiration from the works of Tarantino and other European exponents of noir but he expertly manages to keep the movie rooted in it's local settings never getting carried away. Jackie Shroff plays the aging don in one of his most memorable performances and he is ably supported by Ravi Krishna and Sampath Raj who plays his right hand. Yuvan Shankar Raja provides one of the most memorable back ground music one has ever heard in Indian cinema - simply outstanding to say the least - oh by the way there aren't any songs in the movie just the back ground score! The Director clearly is the star here and hats off to him for creating such a daring work which clearly is a master piece.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Based on John Le Carre's classic novel of the same name, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" , the film is as good a spy thriller as it can get and a text book example of how convoluted spy thrillers need to be made. I approached the film with a lot of trepidation as I wasn't familiar with the source material and had read that the mammoth work was impossible to condense in a two hour film. Disappoint, it hardly did, what with the an eclectic all brit cast that included veterans such as John Hurt and Collin Firth alongside young turks such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy and headed by the incomparable Gary Oldman. Brilliantly condensed and written by Bridget O' Connor and Peter Straughan, the work is superlatively translated on to the big screen by Swedish film maker, Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One in). The smoldering tension of the 70's Cold War era is so effectively created against a foggy, grey London backdrop with minimal use of violence. What contributes to the overall feel of the film are the performances and especially that of Oldman's which easily is his career best. Extremely restrained and underplayed he is pitch perfect as Smiley, a weathered veteran agent who has lost just about everything personal and professional, forced to retire and then reluctantly brought back to carry out an internal investigation. The defeated, tired look on his face hides a menacing interior which you get a glimpse of now and then and which you realize could explode any minute. This is one helluva performance and rightly rewarded by the Academy which had long ignored him. He is ably supported by Collin Firth with another brilliant turn, Tom Hardy who rarely disappoints, Benedict Cumberbatch who seems on the brink of taking Hollywood by storm, Mark Strong as good as ever, Toby Jones and the venerable John Hurt. This is one film that gets better with each viewing and is going to age very well like old wine.


Martin Scorcese's first 3-D film is a dazzling spectacle and a huge departure from what you are used to seeing from him. "Hugo"has got to be the master's most personal work ever as he seems to have infused in to the lead character his own boyhood. Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfiled) lives unbeknownst at a Paris railway station, spending his time tuning the clocks that surround the terminus. He got there after an uncaring uncle left him to himself following the death of his father. An automaon left to him by his late father turns in to an obsession as Hugo believes unlocking it and making it work would throw up answers about why his life has turned the way it has. What follows is a conflict with George Melies (Ben Kingsley), a toy shop owner takes the story on a different vein altogether and this is when you witness the master unfold a more personal aspect of himself manifested in Hugo and his love for the movies. Both lead actors put in brilliant performances - I mean has Ben Kingsely ever disappointed? Though not one of Scorcese's best works by a long shot - the man has set such a high standard for himself - it most definitely is one of the best of the year.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol

It almost seems like the fine gentlemen at Paramount walked up to Brad Bird, some one with no experience what so ever with live motion picture, handed him a memory stick and uttered the words, " Your mission, if you choose to accept is to revitalize a dying franchise " and boy! are we glad he choose to accept. Bird brings fresh energy, renewed vigor and a whole new perspective to the franchise - which is what it just needed. And which is what Cruise just needed to undo all the self inflicted damage after misusing Oprah's couch. The plot moves at break neck speed beginning with an explosion at the Kremlin, the disavowing of the IMF and they having to clear their name with absolutely no official help but by depending on themselves. There are no returning faces here, the team is new - Simon Pegg adds a bit of humour, Paula Patton is mouth wateringly dishy and Jeremy Rener is undoubtedly the best addition to the proceedings. The highlight of the film is of course the edge-of-the-seat sequence at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. One must hand it to Brad Bird though, his resume reads - "The Iron Giant", "The Incredibles" and "Ratatouille" - who would have thought that he could handle an action live motion flick such as this. So not only is the franchise far from over but we now have Tom Cruise all set for a second innings - look forward to "Rock of Ages. If you're looking for the prefect weekend popcorn fare, head this way but do make sure it says IMAX!

Margin Call
Margin Call(2011)

The onset of the economic crisis of 2008 is the focus of first time director J.C. Chandor's "Margin Call". The film looks at a period spanning 24 Hours that involves a Lehman Brothers' like investment firm where soon after a round of lay offs involving some veterans, a young executive lands upon information which when deciphered suggests that the firm is on the verge of collapse. What ensues is a tumultuous night where everybody from the Chairman to the young executives scramble to save what they can of the firm and their futures. Personalities clash a plenty - the righteous against the ruthless, the veterans against the rookies all heading towards a tense finale. Brilliantly written and ably directed, it's unbelievable that this actually is the work of a first time director. It seems like something you would expect of a Sidney Lumet - think "Network". Chandor is ably assisted by an all star cast with the likes of Kevin Spacey as a Senior Manager dealing with his conscience, Jeremy Irons as the ruthless Chairman, Zachary Quinto as the new kid who discovers the error leading to the crisis, Stanley Tucci as the laid off Senior employee, Paul Bettany as a cocky senior executive, Simon Baker and a rather gaunt looking Demi Moore. Higly recommended.


"Moneyball" is based on a true story about the Oakland Athletics Baseball team and their record winning streak of 2002. The film focuses on Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) who as the General Manager of the team must confront losing key players at the end of a disappointing season and faces the daunting task of rebuilding a demoralised unit on a shoe string budget. Enter, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) an Economics Graduate fresh out of Yale who seems to have lost his way in to the world of baseball. Brand comes out with analysis based on sabremetrics, which identifies player potential against value and determines which players would best suit the limited budget allocated with out undermining the focus on winning. The idea though revolutionary and non-conformist is embraced by Beane and Brand is hired as the new Assistant General Manager. Things don't go as planned initially but eventually results begin to show and the Oakland A's then go on to a record winning streak. There really isn't much of a plot in there and this isn't your regular sports movie where you see the story culminating in a sensational win and ultimate glory for the team. The story focuses more on the struggle that Beane and Brand undergoes in taking forward their theory against old school support staff, a stubborn manager (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and a confused team. One witnesses the wheelings and dealings that are part of modern sport these days and how players are exchanged with a snap of a finger with hardly any consideration to them or their families. In the expert hands of writer Aaron Sorkin (Social Network), what may have seemed as a drab account of baseball team on a winning spree is cleverly presented with all the drama, tension, heartbreak that one would normal expect from a court room drama. Pitt is excellent as the General Manager in a role that seems tailor made for him. The scene stealer though is Hill as the confident yet uncertain analyst. When he opens his mouth to present his analysis and highlight the flaws that exist in the business of baseball you feel like you're listening to the God of Baseball himself! I am not sure what Hoffman is doing in this, an actor of his calibre truly deserves better. It seems like he was returning a favour to Director Bennet Miller for "Capote". One of the best films of the year thus far and a must watch for serious film aficionados.


"Warrior"examines the tale of a family torn apart and in particular two brothers who eventually must meet in a ring competing in a mixed-martial arts tournament. The film open with Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) returning home after 14 years to meet his father (Nick Nolte) and seek his help in training for "SPARTA" , a sort of a no holds barred mixed martial arts competition. A parallel story line examines the life of Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton), a school teacher and family man forced to return to the ring to save his mortgaged house. The two brothers end up in the same competition with Tommy bulldozing his way through rounds and Brendan an underdog with surprising wins. As expected they face-off in the finale in what becomes a fight where it's redemption that is sought more than anything else. The drama is explosive and the fights dazzling - a perfect combo that would keep you glued to the finish. Nolte and "man-of- the-moment" Hardy put in superb performances as a repentant father and an unforgiving troubled son, but to me the film belonged to Edgerton (Don't even ask me who the guy is, I honestly have no idea!). His truly was a star making turn in his role as the older and more calmer brother, the anguish and the pain is so perfectly captured in his performance which reminded me a lot of his fellow country man, the late Heath Ledger. A perfect weekend fare especially so if you are the one that likes action with a lot of corny tear-jerking drama spread over it!

The Ides of March

George Clooney returns behind the camera after a sort of a misstep with his last venture, "Leatherheads" and this time the subject is politics. Clooney + Politics - one would have thought explosive ! - not quite. "The Ides of March" looks at the final days of a presidential campaign focusing on a crucial primary set in Ohio which would tilt the balance in favour of either candidate. Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), a Junior Campaign Manager with Gov. Morris (George Clooney) stumbles upon a shocking secret that could derail his Boss's campaign and even destroy his career. As he scrambles to hide what he discovers, he realises that it would be at the cost of his own job and he's then forced to make choices - and by that I mean not of the moral kind. The film moves at a leisurely languid pace and by the second act builds tempo and then moves on to a thoroughly tense and gripping finale. I sensed a sort of a "Michael Clayton" feel to the way the plot was built and developed, which I am not surprised if Clooney was indeed influenced a great deal by his experience working on that excellent film from 2007. The film is laden with some heavy weights in supporting roles with the likes of the "never disappointing" Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti as rival campaign managers also the always likable Jeffrey Wright as a Democrat Senator. The film of course belongs to Gosling, who puts in another splendid performance to round of what I could like to call "The Year of the Gosling". He perfectly captures the transformation of an all believing, hero worshiping, naive albeit brilliant novice to that of a conniving, ruthless, ambitious politician.

The Adventures of Tintin

Motion-capture technology in all it's glory and in 3-D! I don't recall seeing the form of this technology put to better use. Well, the technology apart, "The Adventures of Tintin : The Secret of the Unicorn" is a terrific fun ride! I'd like to think of myself as a purist (I grew up reading the comic books like any kid of the 80's), when it comes to Tintin and this film is as "pure"as it can get. When the movie was first announced, I remember being a little skeptical as Spielberg and Jackson had chosen "The Secret of the Unicorn" as the subject and this particular book isn't what I would call a page turner as it's purpose in the series was purely to lay a foundation to "Red Rackham's Treasure" which is one of the best in the series. The film however moves at such a brisk pace thanks to some brilliant piece of writing which uses elements from "The Crab with the Golden Claws" and "Red Rackham's Treasure" which turns out as pure genius. Even the casting I thought was brilliant, Jamie Bell voicing Tintin is absolutely perfect, it just seems like his was the voice I heard while reading the books! Andy Serkis as Capt. Haddock, I mean who would have ever imagined Gollum and Haddock voiced by the same guy?! The whole work has "genius" written all over it and I can't wait for the second installment! Spielberg has had a rocky ride since 2002's "Catch me if you can", but after this and some of the early glowing reviews of "War Horse"I sense him returning to his top form that we saw during the 80's and 90's.

The Devil's Double

A riveting, stomach churning account of the experiences of Latif Yahia (Cooper) who worked as a body double to Uday Hussein (Cooper again), the film is based on his book by the same name. Set during the period between the Iran-Iran War and the First Gulf war, the film opens with Yahia, a lieutenant in the Iraq army and former school mate of Uday Hussein being recruited as a "fidayen" for him. With the assistance of cosmetic surgery/prosthetics and some training Yahia is made to be a perfect double for Hussein and begins carrying out his duties for him. Yahia now stands witness to the psychotic world of Hussein which is laden with violence, sex and drugs. Though repulsed by all this Yahia can barely protest as invoking the anger of Hussein would mean certain harm to his family. Though most of the accounts portrayed in the movie are true one doesn't sense a docu-drama feel to it but more that of a gangster thriller which seems to have been the intention of director Lee Tamahori. Everything about the film is grandiose, right from the palatial sets, the shimmering wardrobes, the expensive cars, the gold plated watches, guns and to top it all a maniacal performance by Cooper who just completely owns the film appearing in just about every frame. Cooper relishes his first opportunity at a leading role - two at that - as both Uday Hussein and Latif Yahia. If his restrained smouldering turn as Yahia appears very mature, his psychotic depiction of Hussein is just outright over the top and rightly so considering the character he plays. Though certainly not for the faint hearted, the film not only offers an insight in to the world of the Husseins but does so with the feel of a suspense thriller.

The Help
The Help(2011)

"The Help", a surprise sleeper hit in the US this year deals with a very touchy topic - Racism. It requires a lot of skill to deal with a difficult subject such as this and the director chooses a corny way to tackle this subject by interspersing it with a lot of humour and some heart wrenching scenes. I am not familiar with the book and so am not sure as to how faithful the movie remains to it. The film is set in the early part of the 20th century in a town in Mississippi where segregation is at it's height. Skeeter (Emma Stone), a recently graduated column writer takes it upon herself to expose the inhuman plight of african-american housemaids of the town. She herself has a personal experience, having just lost her childhood nanny who had literally raised here like her own child, which leads to this decision. Writing about a sensitive and inflammatory issue such as this isn't easy considering the times they live in and the obvious repercussions that she would face. The film's strength most definitely is in the performances, the cast is headed by Stone and Viola Davis, who plays a housemaid and the first one that is willing to help Skeeter. Davis's performance is extraordinary to put it simply, she manages to depict the pain and humiliation that a housemaid endures and at the same time lace it with a dignified demeanour. The other standouts I thought were Bryce Dallas Howard as a scheming, racist house wife out to influence the others in her neighbourhood and Jessica Chastain as a naive recently married young woman struggling with new found responsibilities who strikes up an unlikely friendship with her help.

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen is unstoppable! He continues with the same a movie a year pace that he has kept for a while now and rarely disappoints. Though I am more a fan of his darker works - "Matchpoint" and "Cassandra's Crossing" - I do thoroughly enjoy his lighter works and "Midnight in Paris" is one such . Though not his amongst his best works by a long stretch, this sappy sentimental ode to the city of Paris and a bygone era is difficult not to like.Wilson plays a hopeless sentimental romantic on a visit to Paris along with his rich fiancĂ (C)e (Mc Adams) and her upper class parents. Once there he is completely enamoured by the city and its rich artistic past. There isn't much of a plot in there and most of the film is focussed on the theme of the notion that most people have about they being happier had they lived in a different era - a notion that I have always subscribed to! Allen's cleverly witty writing holds the paper thin plot together and his penchant with always getting a stellar cast makes the movie a very interesting and enjoyable affair. Wilson is perfectly cast and so is Mc Adams and Cotillard - gosh the lady never disappoints. Other heavy weights include Brody, Bates, Sheen and of course Carla Bruni!

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Not quite your regular romantic comedy fare, "Crazy, Stupid, Love" is more of a modern adult drama that focusses on the perils of falling in love and holding on to a relationship. Carell, in probably his most mature low key performance ever plays a middle aged family man (Cal) living what seems like the dream - great job, beautiful house and a perfect family till every thing comes crashing down after his wife Emily (Moore) admits to a fling and demands a divorce. The newly single former family man now is lost in a world he left behind over 20 years ago - the world of the single. Enter ladies man, Jacob (Gosling) who takes it on himself to tutor Cal and gradually turns him in to a dashing Romeo. Along the way things take a surprising turn when Jacob falls in love (Stone) and wants to turn on a new leaf and Cal tires of the debonair avatar and realises he is still in love with Emily. The film plods along finely with a few hiccups here and there where it resorts to the screw ball - the garden confrontation scene and the cheesy - the graduation ceremony. Otherwise, an enjoyable fare elevated by a mostly impressive cast. Carrel is refreshingly mature, Gosling, a surprise package in probably his first ever comedy role, Moore continues with that painful heartbreaking look that she first put on in "Magnolia" - I love the actress but am beginning to tire of that look, Stone is a revelation and with Gosling the chemistry just explodes. Bacon and Tomei appear in cameos. All in all a perfect weekend movie!


Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn creates the ultimate neo-noir in "Drive". A taut, not for the faint hearted thriller which pays homage to some of the art house classics of the 60's and 70's and still manages to stand out as an original modern classic. Ryan Gosling, in yet another brooding understated performance, plays the nameless "driver" who is a stunt driver for movies and moonlights as a getaway driver for heists. With the intention of helping a lady friend (Carey Mulligan), one of the heists he involves himself in goes terribly wrong and he then has the local mob after his head. It's from then on we realise that behind the cool demeanour and quiet friendly nature of the "driver" is a brutally ruthless and probably psychologically scarred violent individual. Refn recreates a very retro feel to the film, right from the excellent soundtrack to the silver jacket that the "driver" wears and yet keeps it very contemporary. We have some veteran heavy weights playing supporting roles, the likes of James Brooks, Ron Perlman and Bryan Cranston. All in all a fantastic thrill of a ride! Hands down the best film of the year for me yet!

The Tree of Life

Terence Malick's fifth film in a career spanning four decades is one that will divide audiences in a way no film has in recent times. "The Tree of Life" is an attempt at making a sense of it all, the meaning of life and the conflict between grace and nature. This conflict is introduced in the opening lines of the movie where a voice over says, "there are two ways through life: the way of grace and the way of nature". The film revolves around a middle-aged man (Sean Penn) scarred by memories of a traumatic childhood that involved a tough, overbearing father (Brad Pitt), the untimely death of a brother and the calming influence of a loving mother (Jessica Chastain).The struggle between grace and nature are represented in the film as the struggle between the mother and father. The film have very little dialogue and depends mostly on imagery and voice overs and this is where Malick's mastery is evident. The director needs to be commended for his sheer audacity in attempting a topic such as this and presenting it in such an unconventional manner. A much debated sequence involves the mother questioning God about her son's death and we are then served a 20 minute footage on the Origin of Life right from the "Big Bang" to dinosaurs. This brought back memories of a similar brilliant attempt by another genius, Stanley Kubrick in "2001: A Space Odyssey". The film itself isn't what one would term as enjoyable or entertaining but one that nevertheless gets your attention, admiration and provokes your thoughts. The kind of work that stays in your mind for a long time. Both Pitt and Penn put in brilliant performances in roles that are demanding considering the minimal use of dialogue, Chastain, on her way to becoming the next big star in Hollywood is a revelation as the ethereal mother. Personally for me, a nice start to a promising Awards Season.

Blue Valentine

A bitter-sweet examination of a collapse of a relationship, this not easy to watch film criss-crosses between the present and past by depicting a marriage on the rocks and flashing back to the exciting wooing period of the past. The relationship seems doomed right from the beginning given the circumstances under which they get committed and how diametrically opposite they are from each other. Dean (Gosling) seems happy go lucky and with no particular drive or ambition whereas Cindy (Williams) though from a broken home seems determined about what she wants to do with her life which is to become a Doctor. Flash-forward to the present, Dean is unemployed and living off his wife who has had to make compromises and is now a Nurse and they are also raising a young daughter. The film is driven by two top notch performances and it is the rawness and brutality in the way the relationship is depicted that keeps us riveted. Though a must-watch not one I'd recommend taking a date out on!

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

A reflection of today's youth culture and what they hold dear, "Scott Pilgrim..." is computer games, comic books, rock music, chord grinding, geekism and evil exes all mashed up. Scott Pilgrim (Cera) is a 23 year old epitome of a geek, he is trying to get over an ex-girlfriend by dating an underage Chinese school girl, shares a room with a gay dude who has sleep over visits from his boyfriends, has been cutting his own hair for over a year, plays in a struggling rock band and there's no mention of a job or a career aspiration. Enter Ramona, a free-spirited delivery girl who Scott falls instantly in love with. There is a catch however; Ramona has seven exes who Scott must battle in order to win over her. This is where the world of computer games come in, Scott battles each ex in what appears like stages in a computer game, moving closer to winning Ramona. The make believe whole world created is dazzling and intoxicating with some very impressive special effects. At the heart of it all what one senses is the reflection of today's youth mentality, where technology has taken over everyday lives and where geeks wish they could succeed in life like they do in computer games. All in all, thoroughly entertaining stuff, all one needs to do is suspend disbelief and get in to the groove, even if you are left scratching your head at the end!

The King's Speech

After last year's the excellent "The Damned United", Director Tom Hooper returns with another masterpiece of film making. "The King's Speech" is a part fictionalised account of how King George VI overcame a speech defect with the help of an Australian therapist during the crucial war years. The lavishly mounted period drama isn't just visually alluring but also an impeccable character study that touches you. The development of the relationship between the monarch and the tutor is extremely well done and towards the end of the film the mutual admiration and deep friendship that has grown is depicted superbly. The trio of King, Queen and Tutor is portrayed by Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter all of whom put in power house performances. Firth with his string of wins during the award season so far is a lock in for the Oscar. Highly recommended.

The Company Men

"The Company Men" is a commentary on contemporary times and the effects of downsizing. The story revolves around three high-paid, long serving executives whose lives are suddenly turned upside down when they find themselves with out jobs. The youngest (Affleck) of the trio refuses to accept reality and continues driving around in his Porsche, wearing his expensive suits and golfing at his exclusive club. The gravity of the situation hits him when his teenage son shows maturity beyond his years and gives up his X-Box realising they may not be able to afford it anymore. His boss (Lee Jones), one of the longest serving members of the team is an old fashioned business man who just does not understand or accept the world of share prices and pleasing investors. He is somebody who values employee satisfaction and conducting business the brick and mortar way. The third character (Cooper) is the most devastated of the lot and ultimately succumbs to the pressure, unable to cope with the loss. The film is handled quiet well and the cast (a trio of Oscar winners) do put in some fine performances but one is left with a feeling that this one could have been a lot better with the kind of potential it held.

127 Hours
127 Hours(2010)

The story of Aron Ralston, a mountaineer who while canyoneering in Utah gets trapped under a boulder and is forced to amputate his lower right arm to free himself. Now, how does one make that in to a 1 1/2 hour movie? Danny Boyle does it and he does it splendidly well aided by a haunting performance by James Franco. Boyle's mastery over his art is evident in the way he depicts the terrifying anguish of the protagonist set against a stunningly harsh landscape. For a film such as this to succeed you need an actor who is up to it and James Franco acts his heart out. Save for the first few minutes of the movie the rest of it is just focussed on one individual stuck under a rock and it's Franco's mesmerising portrayal laced with monologues and gut wrenching expressions that keeps a viewer hooked to the very end. Anybody familiar with the Ralston story knows the outcome so Boyle does not have the liberty to play around with suspense and yet you are glued. This is a remarkable piece of film making and an even more remarkable piece of acting.

The Fighter
The Fighter(2010)

David O'Russell explores new territory with "The Fighter", based on a true story about two the Ward/Eklund brothers. Micky (Wahlberg) is out to make a mark as a boxer all the while realising that age is fast catching up. He is dependent on his brother Dicky (Bale) from whom he has learnt all that he knows about boxing. Dicky had almost reached the pinnacle with a fight he almost won against Sugar Ray Leonard and from then on it had been a downward spiral in to crack addiction. The first half focuses entirely on Dicky who is a hyper active attention hogger and is out to prove himself with a comeback coaching his brother to glory. Bale puts in a maniacal performance and relishes the part of Dicky. A known stickler for authenticity, he sheds kilos for the umpteenth time, loses hair and may have lost some of his teeth too, knowing his commitment! The role has Oscar written all over it and the Director seems to have given Bale a free rein which is clearly evident in the way he steals every scene he appears in. For a while I wondered if I was watching a sport based movie or was this another Arronofsky kind of film about a crack addict and his obsession. The film takes a different turn after Dicky is arrested and Micky with support from his girlfriend (Amy Adams) realises he needed to focus back on probably his last chance to get his career back on track. From then on we witness a series of bouts which I personally felt were the best picturised sequences I have seen since Scorcese's "Raging Bull". The plot basically is "Rocky" like that of an underdog going against all odds to succeed but the difference here is that the challenges he faces comes from his own family, his crack addicted brother, an ambitious domineering mother (Mellisa Leo) who also is his manager and seven (yeah, seven) possessive sisters. Wahlberg puts in a fine restrained performance as Micky and is particularly impressive in the second half when the focus shifts on his character. Bale clearly owns most of the film, though at times we feel he is overdoing it, those thoughts are put to rest when one views real life footage of the two brothers when the credits roll at the end of the film. Dicky Eklund is clearly an attention seeker and Bale was spot on in his depiction. Both Amy Adams and particularly Melissa Leo excel in their parts. One can expect a bunch of nominations and a likely long overdue win for Bale. It's criminal that the finest actor of his generation has never been nominated for an Oscar yet.

The Kids Are All Right

A tragicomic look at a post-modern American family where a lesbian couple raise two teenage kids. Things seem hunky dory till the children decide to trace their biological dad and he in turn invites himself in to their day to day life. Subsequent events put love, marriage, parenthood and family values to the ultimate test. Though the film starts off as a family comedy things take a dramatic turn midway after one of the parents is caught cheating and from then on the film seems to lose steam. What put me off was the handling of the Ruffalo character that clearly is a victim of circumstances but is made to look like a loser home wrecker. All lead players put in top notch performances with Bening clearly dominating the others in her best performance since "American Beauty". She is superb playing the Butch in the couple. Things seem to be finally pointing to an Oscar win for her this year.

Rabbit Hole
Rabbit Hole(2010)

A realistic portrait of a grief stricken couple who just lost their only child, "Rabbit Hole" stars Kidman in probably her career best performance and Eckhart in brilliant form too. Each parent chooses their own way of dealing with the tragedy, the father clinging on to memories and the mother wanting to destroy all reminders. Becca (Kidman) rejects group sessions and seeks solace in the company of a school boy who drove the car that killed her son and who in turn is trying to come to terms with the guilt and Howie (Eckhart) experiments with pot in the company of a colleague from the therapy sessions. The story is skilfully and sensitively handled and superbly enacted by both leads. Lots of heart wrenching moments are interlaced with some unexpectedly humorous ones and the ending just simply leaves you emotionally drained. Good to see Kidman back in fine form, it's been a while.

Winter's Bone

This year's Indy darling at various Film Fests and an award winner at Sundance "Winter's Bone" was a film I approached with a lot of expectations. The film is set in the Mid West and tells the tale of a seventeen year old girl who takes care of her two young siblings and her sick mother in the absence of an absconding meth-addict father. The girl sets out in search of her father who she learns has jumped bail and if isn't found, would result in her losing her home. Her search leads her through unforgiving terrain and a crime ridden unscrupulous society. The film brought memories of "Frozen River" from a couple of years ago which was again set against the rural Midwest and dealt with poverty and a grim existence. Somehow this one just didn't live up to the expectations and turned out somewhat of a damp squib. On the positive side, Jennifer Lawrence was a revelation with her quiet restrained performance and so was John Hawkes who plays her uncle.

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)

Never really been a huge fan of Aronofsky. I just didn't get "The Fountain", liked "The Wrestler" for two reasons, Rourke and Tomei and have yet to watch "Requiem for a Dream" (Sacrilege!).The film delves in to the world of ballet where the protoganist, Nina (Portman) is trying to achieve her dreams whilst battling an overbearing, ambitious mother, a hard to please womanising boss and warding off stiff competition from a sensous new colleague. Nina is unexpecteldy choosen to play the lead in a new rendition of "Swan Lake" where she struggles to interpret the evil alter ego of the White Swan, the Black Swan. The pressure gets to her and takes her down a self destructive, hallucinatory path. This is brought out expertly by Aronofsky by using some disturbing imagery that leaves you emotionally devasted. The ending leaves room for different intepretations and would require repat viewing but not so much as going in to David Lynch territory. Performance wise the movie belongs to Natalie Portman as she is in every single frame and takes to the role realising very well it is one of a life time. Hmmm... I guess I finally must watch "Requeim for a Dream".

The American
The American(2010)

George Clooney's latest thriller is an exquisitely shot film, multi-layered work that harks back to the 70's European Art-House works. The story revolves around a middle aged assassin on the cross roads of life and desiring to give it all up for love which in his world isn't all that easy. The film is set in a small hill top medieval town in Italy and is so beautifully shot that compliments so well the angst and inner demons that Clooney is battling which in turn is brought out expertly by one of his most underrated performances ever. The end product is a superbly crafted film with a fine performance by Glooney and some brilliant shots like the stunning opening credits sequence. One must hand it to Clooney and Corbijn for attempting something different from the staple Hollywood fare.

The Social Network

A movie about the origin of facebook?! A social networking site that a bunch of geeks set up in their dorm? Not exactly stuff one would want to make a movie out of. Yet in the expert hands of Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher what we get is a fascinating look in to the transformation of a gifted teenager driven by ambition to that of a ruthless business magnate. Technically flawless and expertly written the end result is absoloutely riveting stuff. The film is nothing but a set of conversation pieces either set in mahogany board rooms or jazzy night clubs and yet not a moment is boring. Intense performances all round from Eisenberg to Timberlake with the stand out clearly belonging to Garfield. Early comparisons to the likes of "Citizen Kane" may seem a tad generous but I honestly feel it is time for Fincher to set aside some space on his mantelpiece.

The Town
The Town(2010)

People, you don't have Ben Affleck to kick around anymore! Forget "Gigli", forget "Jersey Girl" you're looking at the Clint Eastwood of our generation. After an astonishing debut as director in 2007 with "Gone Baby Gone" Affleck returns to his hometown of Boston to delve in to a subject less emotional than his debut film and more action packed. His intentions seem to be to reach out to a wider audience after the more artsy debut film. The tale revolves around a gang of four bank robbers with Affleck and Renner potraying two childhood friends and part of the four. Affleck falls for a Bank Manager who had been briefly held hostage blindfolded by the gang and you have the Feds hot on their heels in the form of "Mad Men"'s Jon Hamm. The film isn't devoid of flaws, unlike the brilliant "Gone Baby Gone" there is an all too familiar feel of being there, seen that and midway I actually was thinking Michael Mann's "Heat", however, it's the brilliant writing which actually uplifts the film and performances by Affleck, Renner and Postlethwaite's creepy Irish Mob Boss turn. Oscar glory seems imminent atleast in the form of noms firstly to make up for ignoring "Gone Baby Gone" and let's face it, the Academy loves actor-turned directors.

The Ghost Writer

A sort of return to roots for Polanski after "Oliver Twist" and the Oscar winning "The Pianist". Though not his best work, "The Ghost Writer" does bring back memories of "China Town" and with ample Hitchcokian elements even classics such as "North By Northwest". McGregor plays a British writer who takes up the job of ghost writing the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Brosnan) and unwittingly stumbles upon conspiracy, espionage and possible murder. The dreary wintry wet Martha's Vineyard setting (was actually shot in Germany not the US for obvious reasons) adds to the sombre mood. Parallels can be drawn to contemporary events and allusions to political figures. The end result is a gripping suspense thriller from the master himself harking back to some of his most creative years. One of the best films of the year so far.


The movie that I have been waiting for all year. I was hoping and praying that this was from the Director of "The Prestige", "Memento" and "Insomnia" and not "Batman Begins" or "The Dark Knight", not that I didn't like those two brilliant films but when Chris Nolan takes you on a "mind f**k" (pardon my french), he does it like nobody else. And what a ride it was! To put it simply, it's a heist movie set against corporate rivalry but the premise is in the minds of the key players. It took Nolan over a
decade to write this and we are glad it did because the timimg couldn't have been more perfect. Fresh from the success of "The Dark Knight" and with Warner Bros at his feet he had all the resources and an all star cast at his disposal to put his dream together.

Cobb (Di Caprio) and Arthur (Gordon-Levitt) lead a highly skilled team that specializes in stealing ideas from the minds of people by entering in to their dreams. This time they are employed by Saito (Watanabe) to do just the opposite ie, Inception. They are required to plant an idea in to a corporate
rival's (Murphy) mind that would ensure that he winds up his business empire. For Cobb, he has one last chance at redemption and to reunite with his family. The dream sequences allow Nolan to let loose with some dazzling special effects and then once the mission is on the ride begins.It isn't very easy to keep track of what's going on especially when you are witnessing a three-layered dream and three simultaneous sequences. There are unanswered questions that would demand repeat viewing and no doubt have fans discussing and debating for long.Whatever said and done this is the film that rewrites the rules for summer blockbusters like "The Matrix" did in 1999. Having said that, this is the film that the sequels of "The Matrix" should have been like.

Cast wise, we have Nolan regulars like Caine, Murphy and Watanabe. I remember thinking why Di Caprio over Nolan favourite Bale, well, I am not any more. My favourites though were Cotillard and Gordon-Levitt. The hotel lobby sequence with Gordon-Levitt, that was the transformation of an upcoming actor in to a star. Now what is Nolan going to do with the just announced third Batman film ? A mouth watering prospect indeed!

Five Minutes of Heaven

Performance oriented powerful drama about two veterans who the media arrange a one on one meeting with 30 years after one of them killed the other's brother during the Irish conflict. One of them has been living with gulit all the years where as the other has been trauamtised by having witnessed his brother's death, all his life. One is out for revenge and the other for redemption. Both Neeson and Nesbitt shine in meaty roles especially Nesbit as the traumatised brother. The climax is not what one you would expect but is thoroughly satisfying.

A Single Man
A Single Man(2009)

Tom Ford's brilliant directorial debut is absolutely mesmerising. It's been a while since a movie touched me the way this has. Very stylishly and exquisitely done, Tom Ford's fashion background stamp is all over the place from the sets, to the flawless costumes to the lighting. What stands out though is Colin Firth's career best performance and the haunting back ground score. Ford certainly has achieved with his debut what most film makers take years to do.

500 Days of Summer

Finally a movie that turns the conventional romantic drama genre upside down. The story of a young man's 500 day obsession with a co-worker that begins with courtship, friendship, romance, break up and finally recovery. The voice over tells you at the onset that this isn't a love story and yes, it isn't one. The story delves in to the mind of Tom, the young man who clearly is a confused soul and more in love with the concept of love than the girl itself. Summer, the girl though clearly knows what she wants and is certain that this isn't the one. Anybody who is been through a break-up would definitely identify with the angst and the tortorous pain that Tom goes through and that is very lucidly brought out. The clever going back and forth in time with a day meter that tells you which day between 1 and 500 we are in is very well done. The movie does end on a positive note with Tom striking up a friendship with another girl whose name happens to be Autumn! Both leads given in top notch performances in a film which surely is going to be career defining for the two.

The Cove
The Cove(2009)

An utterly gripping and compelling docu-drama that actually plays out like some Bond spy-thriller, this truly has to be the first of it's kind that doesn't fit in to any genre. The documentary follows Ric O'Barry an ex-dolphin trainer turned activist who now works to free dolphins from captivity and is on a sort of a redemption trip. O'Barry with the help of Louie Psihoyos, the film's director incidentally, gathers a team of divers and gadget experts who embark on a dangerous trip to Taiji, Japan, where there takes place annually a slaughter of migratory dolphins (yes, you read that right!) What follows is explosive stuff straight out of a Bourne movie, how the team manages to penetrate in to the high security cove and capture on film the slaughter, all the while putting their lives in danger. Taut, brutal and difficult to watch at times with scenes that truly move you like the one where O'Barry gate crashes the IWC conference with a TV strapped on to him. Yeah, watch it and I am sure you will text "DOLPHIN" to 44144.

Alice in Wonderland

This looked very promising and I was hoping for another classic from Tim Burton (like "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"), too bad it turned out otherwise. What the movie lacks really is emotion and seems quiet life less. Too much emphasis seems to have been laid on technology and to give it a grandeous look that the story and characerisation seems to have taken a back seat. The movie does look fabulous though in 3D. It's a visual treat, very colorful and with some stunning imagery. Ultimately though it seems like a great idea that didn't quiet go the way it could have.

Shutter Island

"Shutter Island" starts off with two Marshalls played by Di Caprio and Ruffalo arriving at a remote island that houses a high security asylum for the criminally insane. What beguns as a "who-dunnit" slowly turns in to a "who is nuts". Not one of Scorcese's finest works but is definitely engaging and very creepy. The eerie gothic atmosphere is perfectly captured with the old mansions, the rocky terrain and the constant rain. Di Caprio excels as the tormented Marshall and is finely supported by Ruffalo and Kingsley. Veteran Max Von Sydow has a few scenes which he dominates with his usual panache. Don't expect this to be spoken about in the same vein as "Raging Bull" or "Taxi Driver" but this could go on to become a sort of a cult classic in it's genre.

The White Ribbon (Das weisse Band)

Inexplicable, tragic events happen in a remote German village in the months preceeding World War I. Are these are harbinger of the times to come or did they trigger them? Haneke uses metaphors to convey his message of the impact of child abuse, ignorant religious beliefs, class divide etc. This isn't entertaining in any way but a film that stirs you and lingers on in your memory. It's disturbing, depressing and being short in black and white has a very bleak atmosphere to it. A film that is difficlut to describe but needs to be experienced.

In the Loop
In the Loop(2009)

A cleverly written political satire that fictitiously depicts the wheelings and dealings between the British and the US government that led to a successful UN vote on going ahead with the Iraq war. This has got to be the best written film of the year, with very little plot in there, it's the strength of the script that keeps it going. Some of the scenes had me actually rewinding like the one where the British Minister's assistant explains to his girlfriend that he slept with his American counterpart in order to avert the war! He actually labels its an "Anti-War Shag". This is just one of the many gems in it.

Edge of Darkness

Gibson returns to acting after 8 years. Quiet a well made thriller which mixes a revenge saga with a political thriller. The end result is quiet gripping in parts but quiet convoluted too and had me scratching my head many a time. Gibson doesn't seem to have lost touch and is very good as the distraught parent but it's Ray Winstone who steals the show as a shadowy mysterious government agent. Passable fare.

Crazy Heart
Crazy Heart(2009)

The film that could finally get Jeff Bridges long over due Oscar gold. The story of a has been, alcoholic country singer who has been on the road for years doing one night stands at small pubs. He blows up his one real chance at redemption that comes in the form of a young reporter and her son but somehow realises the seriousness of his problem and finally turns over a new leaf. There is hardly any plot in here but a phenomenal performance from Bridges is what lifts this above the ordinary. Come March 7th and we'll know if the Academy decides to finally "screw with Bridges' under-appreciated status".


A surprisingly good genre-bending film that exceeded my expectations in many ways. This is sci-fi, horror, blood and gore all rolled in to one. It's 2019, the human race is endangered all because of a single bat that triggered off an epidemic that has transformed mankind to blood thirsty vampires. That's the premise! Sounds more like a cheap b-grade flick at a Grindhouse eh? This isn't one though. This is very stylishly done, manages to a certain extent to balance that eerie atmosphere of sci-fi classics such as "Dark City" and also the gore and violence of vampire flicks. What disappointed me though was some of the sequences in the climax that bordered on B-Grade. Both the lead players turn in decent performances. Willem Dafoe gets a meatier part playing an ex-Vampire (yeah you got that right, ex-vampire!).

Star Trek
Star Trek(2009)

Never imagined I'd finally bring myself to watch a "Star Trek" movie. I've never been a "Trekkie" and actually always thought that Spock was a villain! The rave reviews finally got me to watch it and I was bowled over. This definitely is one for the youngsters and is going to spawn a whole new "trekkie" generation. I really am not sure how long time fans would react to this or whether it has messed up with any long standing traditions, as I never was a fan. What really got me going with this was the emotional depth in the story telling. It isn't just action, it is a sort of coming of age story too, depicting teens growing up to take responsibility, learning to respect one another and finally about budding friendships. Am really looking forward to how they take this further in the franchise. I certainly am converted now!


A fantasy tale about a young girl who stumbles upon a parallel version of her life where everything is perfect and which draws her in to it. The stop motion animation is brilliant here and the imagery used both macabre and spectacular at the same time.This ultimately is a story about how a young girl learns to appreciate what she has and triumph over an evil witch who is out to entrap her in a make believe world. This certainly isn't for kids and most definitely not "Alice in a wonderland" but a more scarier darker version of it which only adults could relate to. A visually stunning piece which takes syop motion animation to new heights.

The Hurt Locker

Had actually watched this the first time about six months ago a second viewing did more justice actually. A gripping portrayal in to the psyche of a bomb squad unit in Baghdad as they go about their daily routine of defusing bombs and living on the edge every minute where even an innocent looking child could be a potential enemy. Bigelow employs a docu drama format and does not resort to the usual dramatic glorified rendition one expects from Hollywood war movies. Ten minutes in to the film and you watch a character played by a major star (Guy Pearce) blow up and that leads to a suspenseful tension throughout. A gritty realism is maintained throughout and thankfully you do not have any political agenda hidden in there nor does the film take any sides. Truly the best war film since "A Thin Red Line" and certainly one that is going to be associated with the Iraq War like "Platoon" was to the Vietnam War. Will Kathryn Bigelow go on to become the first woman to win best director at the Oscars next month?

A Prophet (Un prophete)

A riveting experience, probably the best film of 2009 for me along with "The Hurt Locker". It tells the story of a teenager who has just landed in prison and has to face off against the Corsican Mafia who runs the place. He patiently wins the trust of the mafia boss running errands for him and learning the business along the way to set up his own along with new friends.What we see is a naive teenager's transformation in to a mature ruthless gangster in a prison backdrop. It's gripping, told in a raw fashion depicting things the way it is. Lead actor Tahir Rahim's bravuda performance only lifts the film higher. No redemption here like "The Shawshank Redemption", the film is shorn of any light at the end of the tunnel.Last year we had "Gomorrah" from Italy, this year this is the one.

The Informant!

The true story of a corporate whistle blower who has everything going for him but decided inexplicably to throw it all away and cooperate with the FBI. Not all of Soderbergh's films are what one would call staple cinema and this is one of them. You enjoy it while it is on, but once you are done you are left wondering what was all that about. Cleverly writing and Damon's finest performance to date are reasons why you'd want to watch it but don't go expecting an "Ocean's 14" or for that matter even an "Erin Brockovich".

Sherlock Holmes

I'd actually decided to pass this over being a "purist" about the much loved Conan Doyle character, but then a few rave reviews and some comments here from friends prompted me to give it a try. Fifteen minutes in to the film and you forget the characters are actually Holmes and Watson, it's a hollywood cop-buddy movie set in 19th century London! And that is the key to enjoying the movie. This isn't Conan Doyle's Holmes, this is Guy Ritchie's version of it for the iPod generation. A pure fun filled ride that accelerates along on the strength of performances from Downey Jr. and Law and a solid onscreen chemistry. The intentions are clear, we are in for a new franchisee. The faceless villain who isn't revaled throughout the movie screams one word - SEQUEL and I sure am looking forward to it.

It's Complicated

Nancy Meyers not in her element here. What seemed quiet promising with a dream cast and a clever theme ultimately turned out quiet disappointing. The actors are in fine form here, both Baldwin and Streep and a very understated turn from Steve Martin makes it watchable. Overall however this seems like a complicated mess of what truly had a lot of potential.

The Blind Side

I haven't been a huge fan of Sandra Bullock and her brand of sugary romantic comedies but the buzz that her performance in this one had generated prompted me to check it out and I must say it was very impressive indeed. The film depicts the true story of footballer Michael Oher, a homeless african-american teen who is given a home by a white family and how he overcomes challenges to graduate and finally join the NFL. The story is told in a simplistic manner but performances from Bullock and Aaron takes it to a different level. Quiet a few tender moments here and there that leaves one misty eyed. Overall a good entertainer with a message thrown in too.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wes Anderson, Roald Dahl, George Clooney and Stop Motion Animation..! "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is a delight. This is one of those films that one would normally associate with Pixar. The kind that not just kids but adults would enjoy and relate to too. The story of a wily fox who has incurred the wrath of three cruel farmers out to get him for stealing their livestock. It's a story of survival, of finding your true self and retaining it and responsibility to your family and friends all told in typical Anderson style eccentricity and quirkiness. Old time Anderson collaborators like Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett return and we have George Clooney as Mr. Fox. Yes, Wes Anderson is a revelation in his first animated feature. If Tim Burton can do it so can he!

The Messenger

A war movie from a persepctive probably never seen on celluloid before, that of the Army's Casualty Notification service. We look at two soldiers entrusted with the difficult duty of delivering the bad news to families of soldiers killed in combat. One a veteran, is a stone hearted person with absolutely no compassion or symapthy for the families and the other a young soldier recovering from a traumatic episode in the battlefield is on the verge of going in to a shell. Several personality clashes later a friendship develops which in a way emotionally heals the two and leads to a poignant climax. Terrific performances from Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson who seems like having garnered the attention of the Academy.

A Serious Man

Well, finally got to see my most awaited film of the year. The Coen brothers at their most darkest since "The Man who wasn't there". They seem to have made the most of the Oscar win and come out with this piece which clearly is an exercise in creative satisfaction and an announcement to the world that they aren't selling out. Some amazing performances here from theatre actors who are unknown to us viewers outside the US. It also has all the quirkiness that once expects from a Coen Bros. film, like the introductory prologue that has no connection to the storyline and the abrupt ending (which honestly I didn't like). Though I thoroughly enjoyed this I do hope to see livelier stuff from them in future and wish this work was something which they did to it get out of their system.

The Damned United

Peter Morgan is at it again! After those thouroughly enjoyable fictionalised biographies, "The Queen" and "Frost/Nixon" we now have him tackling a non-political subject, and the man is Brian Clough, the controversial English Football Manager. Excellent piece of writing and a superlative performance from Michael Sheen makes for some engaging viewing. Sheen's performance is a delight to watch, the man is a genius really. After depicting Tony Blair and David Frost, this is a bt of a departure for him considering the maverick character that Clough was.Is Michael Sheen the best actor to come out of the UK since Daniel Day-Lewis and Ralph Fiennes? Now one wonders what else Morgan has up his sleeve!

The Lovely Bones

I remember first reading about this on IMDB and thinking to myself, a story of a murdered teenage girl watching how her family copes with their loss from up above, huh? Are you sure Mr. Jackson, after "Lord of the Rings" and "King Kong"? I did approach this with very less expectations and is probably why I must say I liked it. An ensemble cast with Wahlberg, Wiesz, Sarandon, Tucci and Saoirse Ronan as the teenaged girl in a performance befitting her Oscar nom two years ago. This ceratinly isn't going to go down as a classic and has it's flaws here and there but nevertheless is worth a watch.

Up in the Air

Splendid performances all round. Smart, witty, in your face dialogues. A storyline any corporate worker could relate to in these times. Talking about it too much would be giving away a lot about the story line. Don't expect a "Four Weddings and a Funeral" kind of happy ending here.The film virtually cements Jason Reit...man's position as a Director of the generation. Three gems in a row after "Thank you for Smoking" and "Juno".

Public Enemies

I'd really looked forward to this one. Quiet disappointing to say the least. Three of my current favourite actors, Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard in one of my favourite director, Michael Mann's film and yet what a let down. The plot was the villain, just lacked the tense atmosphere of "Heat". Too little depth in the characters. Saving grace was a few action sequences tastefully shot and Cotillard's performance.

Three Idiots
Three Idiots(2009)

It's official, Rajkumar Hirani can do no wrong. His first non-Munna Bhai flick and he has proved the nay-sayers wrong. A non-stop entertainer with splendid performances all round. Aamir Khan, outsatanding as always with solid support from Madhavan and Sharman Joshi. To me though, the best performances were from Boman Iraini and Omi Vaidya. The film makes you laugh, cry and ponder as is always intended by Hirani. If people doubted he could pull it off with out the Munna Bhai and Circuit characters, not only does he pull it off but does so a lot lot better.

Julie & Julia

Is there anything left for Meryl Streep to do? Splendid performances from Streep, Amy Adams and the ever dependable Stanley Tucci. The idea would seem a little diffcult to film but Nora Ephron does a wonderful job with it and keeps the viewer hooked to the end to find out if Julie does make it with the recipes and if she does finally get to meet her inspiration, Julia. Sure shot nomination for Streep, the actress could appear in a film reading a newspaper and yet get nominated! Would be nice to see Adams get her third nomination, but it seems a bit unlikely considering the players this year.

An Education
An Education(2009)

Stand out performances from Carey Mulligan and Alfred Molina. A great coming of age movie that brings back memories of "The Squid and the Whale" from a few years ago. One of the best of the year.