Sheer Melody

A mole's eye-view of the Cosmos


Great movies

I am back to writing and commenting on favorites. It’s always easy to write about favorites – so I have decided to make this post really interesting. Which would mean that, as a footnote to this post – I will have a link or rather a PostScript with the ten worst movies which I have been unfortunate enough to watch. Before you read this, do be warned that I am a disgruntled movie fanatic. Some comments may seem unpalatable to several people.

I hope you have as much fun reading this as I had writing it…

My favorites:-

  1. Pulp Fiction: Quentin Tarantino makes one of his greatest movies. This movie was as great as it was important for the manner in which movie-making confined to genres were combined together to form a rollicking adventure. Some say it was so ahead of its times that it failed to win anything other than Best Screenplay at the Oscars. The Oscars don’t really matter that much to me – for me, Pulp Fiction would stand as one of the top-ten movies of all time, not just for the action, the direction and the screenplay – but for the way it made directors and movie-makers rethink their movie-making strategies.
  2. The Shawshank Redemption: It is always tough to adapt a full-length novella into a movie, something which Satyajit Ray would definitely agree with; and this movie was one of the rather powerful and eminently-watchable book-adaptations of all time. Ironically, it was after this movie that cooped-littérateurs were forced to admit that Stephen King, indeed, was a good writer and not just a genre hack as he was portrayed. This movie gives two actors, Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, giving performances of a lifetime. Powerful acting, Powerful direction and extremely sad, yet inspiring, this movie uplifts me every single time I watch it.
  3. The Apu Trilogy: I tend to favor Aparajito as the best of the three movies in this trilogy; however I do tend to agree with most seasoned movie-goers that each of the movies in this trilogy tugs unceremoniously at your heart-strings, almost to breaking point. As the TIME issue of September 26, 1960 says: Director Ray reveals an order of poetic insight and a gift of visual anecdote that combine to produce some astonishing effects. All in all, this was the style of movie-making that is simplistic almost to an extreme, yet so profoundly strong in its impact, that it’s tough to ignore. As Kurosawa said: The kind of cinema that flows with the serenity and nobility of a big river — the river of life as it is ordinarily lived. A fascinating review by Roger Ebert: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20010304/REVIEWS08/103040301/1023
  4. A Hard day’s night: Considering the fact that this movie was shot in the way it was, it’s a miracle that it is not a mess. In fact, it’s one of the most honest movies about rock ever made; for the simple reason that it is funny, expressive and joyful. It was about a time where rock stars lived a life without principle, where enjoying the money you earned was not considered a crime and wasn’t frowned upon by prudish critics. It’s got some really good songs too. As TIME said: More than a movie, it was an answer to a maiden’s prayer.
  5. The Godfather: They don’t make gangster movies like this anymore. Other than the rather badly made Sarkar in India, starring Amitabh Bachhan at his hamming best. This movie is a lesson in movie-making, in how a movie can be made so dark and depressing, and at the same time, have a profound impact on the audience. The flawless acting by De Niro, Marlon Brando, and of course, Al Pacino, and the grandeur of it all, gives this movie nobility in all its gloominess. It has the power to make you feel terror, pity; best of all – it even makes you smile. Critics have said it is a pop masterpiece. Well, definitely – but it IS a masterpiece, after all! Tidbit: Brandon’s only flaw was that he would not, or could not learn his lines, and would read them from carefully hidden cue-cards.
  6. Schindler’s List: Another epic movie, a documentary on the holocaust with an absolutely amazing usage of the black and white oeuvre. Before the war, Schindler was a scheming playboy of the Third Reich. After the war, admittedly he was a failure. But during the holocaust, he was afflicted with a grace, saving and abetting Jews in their flight from misery. Laced with grim foreboding, this movie is a bland, unprovocative account of the holocaust, with an unforgiving eye, powerful unstoppable drama, high morality; leading to a movie which simply escapes the bounds of conventional criticism.
  7. A Streetcar named Desire: Famously regarded as the best adaptation of a play, and TIME in its selection of 100 best movies of all time, does not disagree. Marlon Brando, in a repeat of his stage performance as Stanley Kowalski, is menacing in his portrayal of this child-animal-beast rolled into one; and Vivien Leigh is masterful in her portrayal of the sensuous flirtatious half-mad-sister-in-law, who teases him back and forth, ultimately resulting in the brutal rape which destroys her in completeness. It is one of the movies in Hollywood, with a substantially honest analysis of human flaws and foibles. Magical!
  8. Psycho: The dark and stormy night, raindrops splattering onto the windshield, the not-so-innocent movie, the nut-case at the hotel played brilliantly by Anthony Perkins, nobody did it better than Hitchcock. The gruesome explanation of the murder when the movie was released made TIME magazine call the movie stomach-churning. However, all through the original, the director’s style, his grandeur, his formal elegance, and the way he impresses his favorite themes on us – guilt, obsession, and ultimately greed; enthralls me every time I see it.
  9. Charulata: One movie which made me believe that Ray was not ethnographer of exotic poverty. This is one movie which I have reviewed in detail, in one of my previous posts – so I will not go into a lot of detail. Let it suffice to say that the tussle of a house-wife, buffeted between two unworthy men, her husband and brother-in-law (original story by Rabindranath Tagore) was made into a brilliant movie. It is a modern movie and definitely one of the all-time classics.
  10. Forrest Gump: For me, any movie-review would remain incomplete without this movie. Dubbed by several critics as another populist entertainer; I have persuasively begged to differ at all points of time on this. The story of a rather stupid, small-town boy in his travails across America has made for easy viewing. I find the movie fascinating because of the social picture it portrays of 60s-America; I love it for its carefully-chosen and handpicked soundtrack, some absolutely beautiful imagery, and a swash-buckling performance by Tom Hanks. Finally, I love the scene where Forrest dances with his childhood-sweetheart to the tune of “Sweet Home Alabama”.

Since I am now done with my top-ten movies of all time – I will now bestow a thought on the worst movies I have personally had the pleasure of watching (and in some cases – have watched them in theatres).

Here goes:

  1. Speed 2 – Cruise Control: This was one of those movies which I watched in-spite of repeated suggestions. The movie was a flop – even at the box-office. Interestingly, Leonard Martin in his Movie Guide wondered rhetorically if any of the cast had actually read the script before signing on the movie. It was nominated for eight Golden Raspberries, and won the award for the Worst Remake/Sequel.
  2. Batman and Robin/Superman Returns: I have placed both of these at the same level – for the simple reason that I could not find a better way to link both of these together. Both extremely badly-made movies, with actor George Clooney going as far to say that he would refund people’s money if they stopped him on the street and said that they had paid to see it. Interestingly, Batman and Robin also had a poorly-played version of Batgirl, by Alicia Silverstone (remember Crush). Superman returns; well the least said – the better…
  3. Freddy got fingered: I didn’t get through the second-half of this movie; so the only comment which I have is Roger Ebert’s comment: This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels...The day may come when Freddy Got Fingered is seen as a milestone of neo-surrealism. The day may never come when it is seen as funny.
  4. Glitter: Few films are worse than this. It's completely forgettable, derivative, and bland in every way. Mariah seems worse than Whitney in her acting. Really bad music, a rehashed story, bad acting and horrendous dialogue make it tops in the worst-movie category.
  5. Black: I have to admit, I hate this movie because the critics lauded it as a landmark Bollywood movie, and I did not even find it close to being a good movie. Amitabh Bachhan was at his best with his hamming, tottering and dialogue without conviction. Overbearing music, blatant use of scenery to influence emotion, and an absolutely over-dramatic, makes it one of the worst movies I ever watched (and that too-in a movie-hall)
  6. I still know what you did last summer: For those who haven’t noticed the still in the title, it is a sequel and an extremely pointless one – to I know what you did last summer. Appropriately titled bubble-gum horror flicks. I could go into the rather contrived storyline for this movie, but since the directory didn’t care much about it, it seems rather pointless. Danny Cannon falls back upon blood, gore and over-dramatized anxiety and goes several inches over the top as he does so. Performances were lifeless, boring and as one rather disgruntled movie-goer said: “I still know what I did last summer. I wasted two hours and a hundred bucks watching this movie”
  7. Anacondas – the hunt for the red orchid: This movie is a sequel to Anaconda. The prequel had a few stars in its cast; this one has Morris Chestnut as the star. It shows – the prequel wasn’t great, but this is worse. It’s a total waste of celluloid canvas. Even fans of killer anacondas wheezed as they walked out of the theatre.
  8. Neal and Nikki: Yes, I watched this movie. I repent it. It was the worst movie to come out of the Yash-Raj stables, and throws everything, Veer Zaara, and all the other crap which Shah-Rukh Khan has dished out over the years far behind. The movie makes little sense; the songs make far less sense. All in all, stay at home and watch POGO.
  9. Mangal Pandey – The rising: Seriously, what’s this movie about? Homo-erotic men, dancing around? Sati? Courtesans? The freedom struggle? If anyone manages to figure out – do let me know…
  10. Garam Masala: This is one other movie which tends to make you feel that Bollywood is indeed bankrupt of ideas and imagination. Frankly, the biggest dud to be delivered by Priyadarshan so far. The music is forgettable, the rhetoric is inconsequential, and the acting is just about passable. The problem is that the sequences which were meant to be comedy sequences don’t really impress and quite frankly, fail to make you laugh. Definitely, one of the worst to come out of Bollywood.

6 Responses to “Great movies”

  1. # Blogger NightWatchmen

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.  

  2. # Blogger NightWatchmen

    Hey man you have commited blasphemy by not mentioning Great Movie #1 or Great Movie #2.  

  3. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Since we are on the topic  

  4. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Since we are on the topic of worst movies.. i would like to add.
    "Lost in Translation" which left me totally lost.
    Either i am dumb or there is something wrong with all the critics who had rated it so high..

    totally lost..
    (ignore last comment)  

  5. # Anonymous Sandy

    Hmm... Lost in Translation was a very dialogue-based movie, and quite frankly, I did not make much of it. It had its good parts, but nothing great really!  

  6. # Blogger Showknock

    what about The Shining? Got it on my lappy now :D ... joys of LAN!  

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