Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shadow Kill (2001)

Set in a village in the Indian state of Kerala on the eve of Gandhi’s freedom movement, Shadow Kill tells the story of Kaliyappan, a guilt-ridden hangman haunted by the memory of the men he has executed. He lives in constant fear of being called by the British authorities to perform his next execution, and his fellow villagers, because of his proximity to death, believe him to possess the powers of the goddess Kali. When he is summoned to perform one more hanging, he fears that his most dreaded premonition may be about to come true. ~ Tom Vick, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 91 mins
Shadow Kill (2001)
Lots of nice scenes of India and overall it had a good quality picture. But it was way too slow at getting to the story and spent way too much time just looking at scenes like the pond with the lily pads. Then the action scenes and dramatic moments seemed to just pass in a blink without too much explanation of what had actually happened. Of course some of that is just censorship by not allowing the violence to come out as well as the sexuality.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005)

Acclaimed film director Sydney Pollack took a five-year break from the realms of fiction to assemble a lovingly crafted tribute to longtime friend and acclaimed architect Frank Gehry in this documentary born from the sketches of its talented subject. A notoriously shy craftsman whose impressive body of work includes the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Ghery is shown working in his studio unobstructed as Pollack attempts to capture the very essence of the artist's bold works through use of film and digital video. Driven by an intimate but informal series of discussions between Ghery and Pollack, Sketches of Frank Gehry uses the subject of architecture as a launching point to discuss the creative process, and paints a fascinating portrait of how one humble man was able to create some of the world's most awe-inspiring structures. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 84 mins
Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005)
Yes informal to the point of casual videotaping. My wife liked it as a look at the life and art of Frank Gehry. Only certain people can get away with having such low skills in a technical manner and still achieve so much. Interesting film about the architecture but unlikely that it would appeal to a broad audience...

The Terrorist (1998)

Do you know the tale of the two seeds?
One was the optimistic seed.
The other, the pessimistic one.
The optimistic seed spoke of its dream.
"When I am sown, I'll grow tall and big.
My roots will go deep into the earth in search of water.
My leaves will dance with the wind.
Dewdrops will rain on me.
I will be content and will salute the earth."

The pessimistic seed disagreed.
"I don't want my roots to go deep within the dark, suffocating earth to look for water.
If I become a plant, I may be pulled out by the roots.
If I blossom into a flower, I may adorn someone's hair.
I refuse to grow unless my safety is guaranteed."

The optimistic seed grew up to become a big tree.
The pessimistic seed bided its time.
An alert hen ate the pessimistic seed.

The basic melodramatic Indian Movie is what I would call the "The Terrorist". Acting was fine and the scenes were nice and crisp. They spent an inordinate amount of time of closeups of the heroin and she was pleasant enough to look at.
Veteran cinematographer Santosh Sivan made his directorial debut with this fact-based Indian drama, a winner of "Best Film" and editing awards in India. Teen terrorist Malli (Ayesha Dharkar) dwells on the death of her family members who have died for the cause. A veteran of killings during 30 covert operations with a resistance group, the 19-year-old is chosen to be a "thinking bomb," assassinating a dignitary with plastic explosives strapped to her stomach. Beginning her journey to the city where the explosion is scheduled to happen, Malli moves through the jungle and arrives at the farm of friendly landowner Vasuderan, aka Mad Vasu. On the farm, she poses as an agricultural student, but the waking coma of Vasu's wife in the adjacent room is disturbing. Memories and flashbacks also intrude, as Malli contemplates her forthcoming task. Shown at the 1998 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Bhob Stewart, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 95 mins
The Terrorist (1998)
This is loosely based on true events but obviously the real life ends in a tragedy otherwise it would have not meant much. Only successful terrorist attacks are newsworthy and widely dispersed.

This film was not in the usual Hindi language for Indian films, but it was of good quality production. Ayesha Dharker appears mostly in English films it appears. The film credits did even show Star Wars II.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tycoon: A New Russian (2002)

Political intrigue and total corruption within the so-called democratic Russia are brought to the forefront in Pavel Lungin's Tycoon. Beginning as an investigation into the assassination of one of the richest men in Russia, the story flashes back to late-'80s Russia, just after Perestroika has broken up the Soviet Union. Five intelligent Russian students -- including one Platon Makovski (Vladimir Mashkov) -- abandon their academic careers in exchange for diving into the newly developing private business sector. As the rules for business in Russia are barely in place, the five new businessmen find a number of ways to profit from a wide array of nearly illegal dealings. Platon, in particular, has developed a knack for ingenious new ways of making money and very quickly becomes one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Russia. Along the way, he also manages to alienate and/or infuriate most of his friends as well as a few government officials. Tycoon premiered to positive reviews at the 2002 Locarno International Film Festival. ~ Ryan Shriver, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 128 mins
Tycoon: A New Russian (2002)
A nice suspense film but I was not into as much as I could have been. Basically the genre has gotten a little stale from my own experiences of the 1970s. But at least on one level, it is good that Russia deals with these issues on film just as the USA dealt with some crime issues also in the same way.

Special features has a 25 minute interview with the director as he stutters a lot.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Red Balloon (1956)

A short film {34 minute} with just a balloon that appears to have its own mind. Not really that inspiring for myself so not much to say about this film. This is the type of film that should really be added as a collection of a few short films into one DVD. Thus I rated it low at 1 1/2.

Most of French director Albert Lamorisse's films celebrate the miracle of flight, but few were as landmark as his 1956 short subject The Red Balloon. The story, told without dialogue, concerns a little boy (played by the director's son Pascal) who comes across a helium-filled balloon. As he plays with his new acquisition, the boy discovers that the balloon seemingly has a mind of its own. The little red orb follows its new "master" all through the streets of Paris, then dogs the boy's trail into the schoolroom, which drives the teacher to comic distraction. Towards the end, it seems as though boy and balloon will be parted forever....but director Lamorisse has a delightful surprise in store for us. In an unusual move, The Red Balloon in its American TV premiere was introduced by Ronald Reagan as an episode of the CBS anthology G.E. Theater on April 2, 1961. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 34 mins
The Red Balloon (1956)

East Is East (1998)

Om Puri plays a most backward and downright chauvinist man including even authoritarian streaks. Which begs the question as to why the two even married and then why the mother did not leave his sorry ass for good. I even forgot that I watched this when me and my wife first met. Was not real memorable in that case.
East is East, a fast-moving comedy drama of mixed-race manners, is set in Salford, England in 1970. It centers on the Anglo-Pakistani alliance of the Khan family that is both claustrophobically cohesive and hopelessly dysfunctional. In their over-crowded terrace house, anarchy erupts daily with farcical energy. The Khan children, caught between the traditional dogmatism of their Pakistani father (Om Puri) and laissez-faire attitude of their British mother (Linda Bassett), have a lot of difficulties to follow their dreams of becoming citizens of the modern world. Based on the award-winning stage play by Ayub Khan-Din, East is East had great success in the theatres of London before it was made into a film. ~ Gönül Dönmez-Colin, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 96 mins
East Is East (1998)

Manda Bala (2007)

Quite an interesting film about the crime problems in Brazil and political corruption, although the kidnapping aspects take up most of the screen time. It almost looked like Ford put on the defensive driving course for bullet proof vehicles. That was also a very interesting segment that including how even the bullet proof windows can not survive multiple shots at close range.
Brazil is a nation where political and economic corruption and violent crime are a way of life for many, and filmmaker Jason Kohn examines some of the more unusual ways they manifest themselves in this documentary. In Manda Bala (Send a Bullet), Kohn's subjects include a plastic surgeon whose practice is dominated by the victims of kidnappers who lost their ears to their captors; a political figure who uses his frog ranch as a cover for illegal business operations which have made him a multi-millionaire; and an auto customizer whose specialty is bullet-proofing luxury cars. Manda Bala (Send A Bullet) won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 85 mins
Manda Bala (2007)
It was amazing how the doctors was able to fix a young woman's ears. They looked nearly perfect maybe even too good. She only complained that the earlobe was stiff since it was built upon the same cartilage that was taken from her chest.

In the USA, I constantly hear about how it is so bad for chipping individuals, but in this film the one man with the bullet proof car wants not one chip implanted but wanted two from two different companies and then he said he would feel safe. Yes being kidnapped and not being sure if you would survive would drive people to do anything, and I can see chipping as a valuable tool for catching criminals.
Special features:
7 Additional Scenes
Commentary with Director and Producers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)

It is refreshing to watch a film that just explains the situation instead of paranoid logic being used. It also appears to be honest by mentioning that yes Sulfur Dioxide (Nitrogen Oxides) would increase under EV (Electric Vehicle) cars. Although one of the deleted scenes was an excerpt of the tearing out of electric streetcars by GM.

One of the deleted scenes was a delightful interview with two African American women {Colette and J. Karen}. They describe how the younger one volunteered to be arrested in trying to block the transport vehicles taking away the EVs. If I was as desperate as they were, I think I would have refused to bring it back, just claim it was stolen and hide it out somewhere. She also gives a funny anecdote of how people now plug in their phones before taking them around with them each day. And yes that is a flimsy excuse for not buying an EV to be bothered with plugging it in. Alhtough working at Radio Shack, I have seen enough times that batteries do not last as long as they are suppose or give a short use time.
Filmmaker Chris Payne explores the many factors that played into the ultimate failure of the electric car to catch on with consumers, even as gas prices began to skyrocket, in a thoughtful meditation on the increasingly important role that renewable energy plays in modern society. Introduced as a means of providing an alternative to increasing oil consumption and reducing pollution in 1996, the electric car was all but a forgotten memory only a decade later -- but why? Though interviews with consumer advocacy experts, automotive industry experts, and oil industry heavyweights, Payne paints a though-provoking picture of a culture whose aversion to change and reliance on dwindling resources may be rooted in the financial concerns of a wealthy few, and may also be leading consumers down a troubling path. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 93 mins
Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)

Special Features:
Deleted scenes as some are mentioned above.
Jump starting the future, which gives a positive message about the future and that steps are being made even if not the grand schemes as before {i.e. hybrids}.
Meeky Rosie video with some scene shots from the movie.
And a quite a few previews of other movies.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Weather Underground (2003)

The best aspect of this film was the comments track of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. To me this was nearly the point of scary in their way of excusing their terrorist acts and even when the armed robbery went wrong and David Gilbert was caught and sentenced for life, they glorified his actions and said he should not have been in prison. What can I say???

This tells me that no matter how Barrack Hussein Obama says that he was only 8 years old when Bill Ayers started his bombing is just an excuse since he still has the views that he did nothing wrong and glorifies "revolutionary" killers/terrorists. They also make the excuse that they did not target people so it was not terrorism. But terrorism acts on how people perceive the dangers. And even if random buildings the three Underground terrorists that killed themselves in the faulty explosion is enough to terrorize anyone.

Sam Green and Bill Siegel's documentary about a radical group whose stated goal was the violent overthrow of the U.S. government details a valuable chapter in the history of the '60s protest movement and leftism in America. The Weathermen were a faction of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), one of the driving forces behind the period's mass protests against social injustice and the Vietnam War. Frustrated by SDS's adherence to non-violent dissent, the Weathermen broke off and adopted a more combative approach. As the student protests ebbed in the 1970s, the group went underground and shifted tactics, embarking on a terrorist campaign against the U.S. government. For years, the Weather Underground evaded the authorities' grasp, even as it pulled off high-profile bombings against government targets. Their momentum petered out in the 1980s, as one by one the organization's members surrendered after years on the run. The Weather Underground uses extensive archival footage and revealing interviews with the surviving members to trace the group's evolution and place their actions in the context of the period's tumultuous events. ~ Elbert Ventura, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 92 mins
The Weather Underground (2003)

Weather Underground Splits Up Over Plan to Come Into the Open
Dissidents Publish Charges Top Leadership Is Adopting 'White, Male Supremacist' Tactics
By John Kifner
The radical Weather Underground movement struggling to maintain momentum in the post-Vietnam era, has split apart over a plan to come into the open.

The schism appears to reflect heightened and sometimes bitter feminist perception among female radicals, along with the groping of the revolutionary movement for support at a time when once-seething campuses are quiet and even much of the militance of the black movement seems to have died down.
In these papers the word b"crime" rather than "error," is frequently used to describe the politics o[sic] the leadership group, indicating the bitterness of the division.

No documents or other statements have been issued by the Central Committee members under attack, Jeff Jones, Bill Ayers and two others know by pseudonyms, Joe Reed and Celia Sojurn.

The Motorcycle Diaries

The Motorcycle Diaries (2003) was a nice little film about Ernesto ''Che'' Guevara and if I had not read and watched him in action then I would have taken away from this film that he was a mild compassionate individual that wanted to help the people out. But basically this film was an attempt to white-wash his life based on some writings he did as he traveled around South America.

As just a story about a couple of people on an adventure this is a quite an enjoyable film to watch. It does show that again he is willing to take that which does not belong to him if he thinks it is "fair" by his standards.
Brazilian director Walter Salles Jr. follows up the Golden Globe-nominated Behind the Sun with this filmed adaptation of Argentinian-born Cuban revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara's journals of the same name. The Motorcycle Diaries stars Gael García Bernal (Y Tu Mamá También, Amores Perros) as a young, pre-revolution Guevara, a 23-year-old medical student in 1952 traveling across South America on a motorcycle with his friend Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna), who co-wrote the source material. As they embark on their journey, both young men come of age and find their individual world views broadened farther than they ever expected. The Motorcycle Diaries premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Matthew Tobey, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 127 mins

A couple of videos that the film also contains as extras:
Alberto Granado recuerda a Fuser (Ernesto ''Che'' Guevara)


Monday, September 8, 2008

Baabul (2005)

IMO a classic sister in law problem {Bhabhi} where this then intersects with the issues of widows. Although it is obvious the practice of widow funeral pyres is barbaric other alternatives were also not very compatible for a society based on liberal democracy and equality in opportunity for everyone. So while in the West would consider some of these issues as minor we can see that these issues are played out in great detail and thought.
A woman is uncertain of what path to take when she loses the love of her life in this romantic drama from India. Avi (Salman Khan) is a bright and ambitious young man who, after completing his education in the United States, comes home to take his place in the successful business run by his father, Balraaj Kapoor (Amitabh Bachchan). Avi meets a beautiful young artist named Millie (Rani Mukherjee) and the two fall in love. They wed, give birth to a son, and are enjoying their lives with their new family when Avi is suddenly killed in an auto accident. Millie is emotionally shattered by Avi's death and she is uncertain about what to do next. Balraaj believes his daughter-in-law needs to remarry and start life over again; he knows that Millie's friend Rajat (John Abraham), a musician, has long had feelings for her, and he tries to bring the two of two of them together. But Millie must decide if she's ready for a new love while her life with Avi is still fresh in her mind. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Baabul (2005)

Bandini (1963 film)

Unfortunately a lot of Indian films are not that good of quality picture. This one also has a distracting fade to the next scene as it changes to a washed out picture and then the next scene is transitioned. After transition it goes drastically back from the faded out scene to the regular B/W scene.

Like Mother India it follows the overwhelming burden of Indian Women in society. The very classic film about a young girl that gets involved in helping a freedom fighter and falls in love, man spoils the young woman's reputation and offers to marry her, father refuses, rebel leaves, marries another woman, young woman becomes a hand maid servant to a bitchy woman that turns out to be the rebels wife that was arranged, young woman goes stark mad and poisons rebels wife, young woman goes to jail (8 yr sentence), meets doctor that falls in love with her, for her guilt she offers to help a TB patient, Doctor can't handle not having her and leaves, warden reads diary of young girl and gives her release early and sends her to the Doctor's home, young lady meets rebel again as he has TB and coughing, then as the train that she was to depart in and the boat he is departing in she changes her mind and jumps on the boat, and they live happily ever after...

See classic story!
Bandini (1963 film)
Bandini (Hindi: बन्दिनी, Urdu: بندِنی, translation: imprisoned) is a film directed and produced by Bimal Roy, the man who directed such classic as Do Bigha Zameen and Devdas, Bandini explores the human conflicts of love and hate intertwined in the mind of Kalyani (Nutan). The movie tells the story of Kalyani, the all suffering, selfless, sacrificing, and strong yet weak Indian woman. She must make a choice between two very different men.
Director Bimalda captures her emotions with light and darkness falling on her face due to a welder's torch and the thumping of Iron in the background.

Back from the flashback in the jail Deven (Dharmendra) the jail doctor falls in love with her. Kalyani is not ready for it and starts to stay away from him. They are always shown with a partition in between after Deven proposes her. Another symbolism used in the movie is the occasional shouting of "All is well" by the prison guard when nothing in the movie is.

Missed the "All is well" statements but did see the door as a symbol of blocking off people, including the rebel woman she helps did it. Of course the using of veils to put up walls is a classic Indian tradition.
Blockbuster has no information on Bandini.

"It is not correct to do 'Raslila' here."