Thursday, December 18, 2008

Brief comments on some recent movies

I've just moved to a new place. Which means that regardless of how much work I might have to do, there is a lot of time to kill without anyone to kill it with. And that can mean only one thing for me... more movies!!! In any case, this is the "oscar season", which means that there are a lot of really good movies are in the theatres right now or about to release over next few weeks. November to January are my movie months regardless of the amount of free time I have on my hands. 

Anyway, here are some brief comments on some of the movies that I have seen over last few weeks.

Slumdog Millionaire: I've already written about it in the previous post. Basically a really good movie overall, just not as good as Roger Ebert and others think. I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the reasons why everyone seems to be liking it so much is that Roger Ebert talked about it in such glowing terms long before most others had a chance to see it. And that puts a certain pressure on others. I don't mean to say that all the critics follow his advice or that they can't dislike a movie if Ebert likes it a lot (eg. Synecdoche, New York left a lot of people cold even though Ebert thought it was brilliant). Still, if you think a movie is quite good, if you actually like it, chances are that the fact that someone like Ebert has already hyped it up a LOT then your own review will probably add maybe one-fourth of a star to what you'd have given it otherwise. Having said that, maybe it really is that good for people here and the only reason why it didn't impress me as much as others was the language part, as I mentioned in that post.
Rating: 8.3/10

Synecdoche, New York: The fact that it is the directorial debut of Charlie Kaufman itself was enough to make me feel a little apprehensive. He writes amazing (and sometimes amazingly convoluted) scripts. So if he decided to direct this one himself, chances are this one is even more convoluted than normal. That is exactly what happened. I am sure I'll "get" more of the movie after watching it at least two more times. There were certainly parts of the movie (and the acting performaces, especially by Philip Seymour Hoffman) that were quite accessible and pretty good. Yet, every once in a while something happens that leaves you scratching your head. I am sure my rating of the movie will increase a lot once I have had a chance to see it again. But as of now it is only a 7/10. 
Rating: 7/10 (tentative...)

Milk: Sean Penn is absolutely great here. Definitely Oscar worthy. A really well made movie about Harvey Milk. Filled with some other good performaces too, but I never felt Josh Brolin was as good here as all the critics awards lists seem to indicate (specially when the rival performace is Heath Ledger's in The Dark Knight). Then again, what do I know about acting? Really good movie, even if there's a certain pattern to most biopics which this follows too, making almost everything (including the supposedly sudden tragedies etc) quite predictable. I have found that now biopics don't really move me as much as they used to initially, just like war movies. Even when they are very well made, there is a certain been-there-seen-that kind of feeling to the situations.
Rating: 8.1/10

Let The Right One In: Wow! I guess the reason I was so impressed with this movie was that I went in to see it without really knowing about it all that much. All that I knew was that it was a horror movie/vampire movie that was getting really great reviews. I am not all that big a fan of horror movies as such, but maybe that is because too few of them are good nowadays. Anyway, I was really surprised by this movie. It is not even close to what one might expect from a horror/vampire movie and is much more closer to good drama movies. The story is more concerned about the relationship between two pre-teen kids than showing blood/gore/violence/special effects as most horror movies might do. In fact visuals-wise the vampire aspect of the story probably doesn't even take 10-15 minutes in total. One of the best movies I have seen recently (which might not be saying much.. considering that I haven't seen all that many movies this year).
Rating: 8.6/10

Happy-Go-Lucky: Good, but not nearly as good as some of the reviews made me expect. Performaces are good. Sally Hawkins and Eddie Marsan are great. But overall it didn't have nearly enough things to keep me interested. Not theatre-worthy for me. :)
Rating: 7/10

The Visitor: It had released much earlier in the year and had got some really good reviews, specially for the lead performance by Richard Jenkins. And I found everything exactly that way, if not better. A nice, touching, even engrossing movie about a writer/professor who has lost touch with the good things in his life - except the memory of his wife, and his interest in and ability to enjoy music - and an immigrant family that he comes across. 
Rating: 8.3/10

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