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Monday, December 31, 2012

Here are the others!

Some people have asked me why I've selected only my top ten favorite films for the year, and why not the others, especially the regional films, and that's the reason I am mentioning the names of some of the other films that I have been much impressed by, for a variety of reasons, and in varying degrees (these include the Indian films too, Mehul!). Hope my readers would delight me with their comments.

50/50 (2011) 
The Tree of Life {2011)
The Help (2011) 
Moneyball (2011) 
Miss Potter (2006) 
The American (2009)
Carnage (2011)
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
Daydream Nation (2010)
The Descendants (2011) 
We Need to Talk to Kevin (2011) 
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
The History Boys (2006) 
Julie and Julia (2009) 
War Horse (2011) 
Secuestro Express (2005) 
This Must Be the Place (2011) 
J. Edgar (2011) 
Before Sunrise (1995) 
Argo (2012) 
We Bought a Zoo (2011) 
Midnight in Paris (2011) 
A Christmas Carol (2009) 
Shame (2011) 
The Awakening (2011) 
Annie Hall (1977) 
Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) 
Gangs of Wasseypur II (2012) 
Changing Lanes (2002)
Dazed and Confused (1993) 
Margaret (2011) 
The Raven (2012) 
Detention (2011) 
The Hunger Games (2012) 
Womb (2010) 
Bel Ami (2012) 
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)
The Conspirator (2010)
Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides (2011) 
Rango (2011) 
Oliver Twist (2005) 
Dark Shadows (2012) 
Triumph of the Spirit (1989) 
The Rum Diary (2011) 
Goats (2012) 
The Door (2012) 
The Flying Scotsman (2006)
Paan Singh Tomar (2012) 
Hanna (2010) 
Brave (2012) 
Hodejegerne/ Headhunters (2011) 
Take Shelter (2011) 
The Details (2011) 
Coup de tête (1979)  
Looper (2012) 
Trouble with the Curve (2012) 
Abosheshey (2012) 
Bhooter Bhobishyot (2012) 
Dutta vs Dutta (2012) 
Aiyyaa (2012) 
Barfi (2012) 
Vicky Donor (2012) 
Talaash  (2012) 
Cocktail (2012) 
Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012) 
English Vinglish (2012) 
Ishaqzaade (2012)
Tawbe Taai Hok (2012)
Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana (2012)
Kahaani (2012) 

Paan Singh Tomar

Vicky Donor
Bhooter Bhobishyot
Tawbe Taai Hok

Annie Hall

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Films Seen in 2012: Top Ten

This year, the top ten films, chosen from among the ones I liked best, have something in common. It is for the readers to find out. It has not happened consciously, that I can swear. Maybe it had to do with my dominant mood. Or, maybe, it was because of the films themselves being real treats for a hardened movie buff like me. Or, maybe, it was a bit of both. After having seen so many films year after year, it is not easy for one to be still charmed or impressed by a film like a kid discovers something new. Yet, all these films (and a few more, actually) have been able to make me feel like a kid. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, I chuckled, and did a whole lot more. I have grown fond of them, having simply been overjoyed at the innate goodness that lay in the heart of the protagonists; rediscovering humanity; reaffirming my faith in my fellow-mates; recharging my batteries; even reviving my oft-battered soul. I hope my readers will warm up to all of them, if they already haven't been lucky to see them, and share my madness and may they find all meaning in that very madness, in their own special way, and make themselves better attuned to life.

1) Le Gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike) (2011)

This French film directed by Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne actually has a an emotionally enriching tale but the beautiful treatment is what makes it stand out. It says so much without actually saying out loud. The acting, the music, and the cinematography had me rooting for the film, and its central protagonist.

2) The Artist (2011)
Toasted at the Oscars, this film is one of the rarest gems that celebrates cinema, of the silent black-and-white era, and, essentially, celebrates life. The storyline of the silent-era star having a sweet romance with a young aspirant is laced with brilliant humor and pathos. It has its brilliant set-pieces orchestrating the rich dramatic crests and troughs and the two lead players, and the dog, are sure to win our hearts

3) Hugo (2011)
This is an incredibly lavish yet irresistibly endearing historical-adventure-drama-film - and it is in 3D. Martin Scorsese has definitely a made a masterpiece yet again, aided as much by Brian Selznick's novel as by the latest 3D technology. The film is gorgeously delightful, and is helmed by the performances of Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee, Jude Law, Emily Mortimer, Ray Winstone, and Sacha Baron Cohen.

4) Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
I was absolutely unprepared for the odd sweetness offered by this Wes Anderson film, which I saw near the fag end of the year. The story and the characters have a quaint, idyllic charm, and the eccentricities are so easy to relate to. More than the adult members of the cast, the usual prototypes used sparingly, it is the children - principally Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward - who steal the show. The production design, cinematography, and music are all top notch.

5) Life of Pi (2012)
A seemingly unfilmable novel, with a universally acclaimed philosophical premise, has been made into a visual masterpiece by And Lee and I do not have words to lavish praises on the end-result. It is simple yet profound; a breathtaking spectacle that offers a spiritual journey for every willing viewer.

6) Boy A (2007)
This 2007 British film was also chanced upon by me quite by chance. Andrew Garfield is a revelation in the title role. Peter Mullan is splendid as the rehabilitation worker showing empathy as well as dilemma. The premise is controversial, but the response generates introspection.

7) Biutiful (2010)
Javier Bardem could have been reason enough to find this film appealing. He is one of the best actors we have ever had, which he proves quite handsomely in this inspirational film directed by celebrated Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu. The film is beautiful, but heartwrenchingly so, much like life itself.

8) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)
I stayed awake all night to see this film. I could not sleep a wink after the film ended, as I was too emotionally charged by its sentiments. It addresses something too intense and gripping, and is dramatic to the core, but that does not take away anything from the film's underlying strength, and the celebration of innocence, even when it is maligned.

9) Beginners (2010)
Heady and heartfelt, serious and funny, emotionally loaded but never over-the-top, wisely bereft of maudlin hues, this is one of the most life-affirming films made in recent times. Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer are a treat to watch.

10) Cosmopolis (2012)
Coming from David Cronenberg, this film does not really shock us, but it makes us chuckle at the queer probity displayed by the maker with opulent confidence in his craft. The terrific theme deals with vacuous soullessness that threatens to plague us in an unthinkable manner, and few could have portrayed the wasted stance better than Robert Pattinson, surely my favorite.

The selection and ranking has been based on personal preference 
taking into account the 200+ films viewed - be it on the big screen or on video. 
Pics courtesy: Google Images 
[The year in brackets indicates the year of release and/or making] 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Life's struggles

Only a few people strive to enjoy each and every day to the fullest. 
Most think that they aren't luckier than the majority. They find themselves disadvantaged, and shortchanged. However, only when one assumes a neutral approach, ridding oneself of all the biases and prejudices that tend to make one feel gypped, that makes one feel trapped in a dysfunctional emotional space, can one truly appreciate life for what it is worth. 

As a new day begins each morning, and, opening one's eyes, there is a feeling of reassurance that one is alive, the petty struggles do not weigh heavy on one's mind. We take too many things for granted. We do not take into account the simple advantages that we enjoy, the simple but priceless gifts we are endowed with, and we do not as such appreciate the life that we live. 
Feeling grateful or thankful for the life that we have been gifted does not come easy, I agree. And it is primarily because of our feeling trapped within the very struggles that we have to engage ourselves in, often when we are extremely reluctant to do so. Some of our battles are themselves so huge, humongous, and hollowing, that they drain and deplete us, and keep us from valuing life itself. 
When I actually think about it, I realize how skewed my thinking has been, but it must also be said that one cannot afford to self-flagellate even if it comes to that, it is but natural - I tell myself - it had been charted for me that way, my life, my struggles, my battles within and without. Life's struggles end only when life does. 
Life would indeed have been too dull, too static, without the challenges, without the struggles; no?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Welcoming the Yuletide Spirit

It's Christmas week, and time for festive decorations and cakes, and spreading of good cheer and joy, and hence I am sharing two beautiful pics sent to me, from the Net, by a special friend of mine. I do not own the copyright, of course, and the pics are shared merely to bring a smile - or two - to the readers of the blog.
By the way, I am sparing you news from the contemporary goings on in the world because the things - too bleak and frustrating - which have been happening, in general, might be reflected upon appropriately only from a distance; a distance that would possibly allow me greater objectivity and rationale.
Let us all welcome Yuletide in our own little way, keeping the spirit of sharing and caring intact, let us pray for love, peace and hope all around. Merry Christmas!~

A promotional gathering for the film '3 Idiots'; cast-members Aamir Khan, R. Madhavan and Sharman Joshi - with their Christmas caps.

A scene from the all-time cult comedy 'Andaz Apna Apna'; Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Living legend Messi

Messi is the subject of my blog-post, yet again, and indeed it is a honor to be feting the Prince of Football. He undoubtedly deserves all the ooh-aahs, not just from his umpteen admirers, but also from the genuine critics and observers who love the game of football and who do not hesitate to laud the feats of the greats, the legends. 
I know that calling someone a living legend is a rare honor, but Lionel Messi's success story is laced with legendary triumphs, it is truly the stuff that makes instant history. He is not one to sit comfy on his laurels, he keeps going from strength to strength. 
He is the superstar of football for all that he displays on the field, and even off it. He has created history this season by breaking the 40-year-old record of most goals scored in a calendar year. And that is not all, the football crazy city of ours and the soccer lovers around the globe are all hoping that he will set many more records. 
He shoots the ball into the goal like a dream, and hence the very sight of him in action, on the field, is a feast for our eyes. It has been rightly said that he roams the ground with a boyish abandon, and nothing can beat the way a certain hush descends on the stadium as he embarks on his magical run towards the opponents' goal area. 
Here's wishing him all the best for the days ahead!