In 2017 I spent probably the least time on watching movies and TV series in recent memory. A big share of my entertainment time has been taken over by my child. If this had been a list of what I watched the most, that would be the many hours of headache-inducing cartoon rhymes that I have to endure with the brat every day. Thankfully, I was able to find some peaceful time for myself during the year to gobble up some good movies and TV.
From the opening scene to the last, this movie is a feast. Witness the torrents of life, death, fate, sex, friendship, loss and gain, all come together in a riveting tale around a Varanasi cremation ghat. The innocence of the main characters and the haunting cinematography stand out. It is beautiful to see metaphors to life in rivers, bridges, trains and stations, all of which play secondary roles in the movie.
"Musafir hain hum bhi, musafir ho tum bhi, kisi mod par, phir mulaqat hogi."
Since I discovered Koreeda, his movies have consistently been the most brilliant and memorable ones I've watched ever year. There is no doubt that he is one of the best directors ever. In his latest family drama is a lanky failed dad, his estranged wife and son and his mom living alone. All of them are the setup for a perfect chemistry experiment on one stormy night. Koreeda is a master at depicting family friction and this movie is no different. Yet another ace.
Curb Your Enthusiasm was always on TV a decade ago and I couldn't see what the fuss was all about. I rediscovered it on a red-eye flight this year and it was a revelation. It is basically Seinfeld-lite, an older Seinfeld set amongst the glam lifestyle of LA. Larry David is just amazing as the guy who tries to be right and is always caught up in a bad situation. That is essentially me! Except for the final Season 8, the rest of the series is a total riot. (A Season 9 has now appeared after I saw this series.)
One does need to ask how such movies are made? Richard Linklater’s bildungsroman of a boy is actually shot over 11 years, with all the actors aging naturally with time! The experience of sitting through this movie is quite an unique experience. Ellar Coltrane (the boy Mason) and Patricia Arquette (the mom) have the most memorable performances. Though why the mom keeps choosing a poor choice of husbands is a bit of a question mark. The movie is a bit long, but you really cannot feel it due to the realness. My favorite years are when Mason is still an innocent prepubescent boy. An amazing piece of work.
This movie does have some flaws and it spends way too much time with alien shapes and scary sounds, but its heart is in the right place. It is without a doubt the best sci-fi movie I saw this year. Amy Adams is Arrival and Arrival is Amy Adams. The movie is just her and that heart tugging piece of music On the Nature of Daylight. The climactic twist is good and the way it is all tied up is beautiful.
Among the current TV series, this is probably my favorite. It brings together several things that I like: 70s and 80s nostalgia, X Files, Steven Spielberg movies and Stephen King novels. If you can ignore the climactic monster at the end of Season 1, which is downright laughable, the rest of the series is pretty much excellent. The child actors are amazing and their characters are very likeable. The series is shot beautifully, recreating those earlier decades with love and perfection. There is always some intrigue or mystery at the end of an episode. Thus binge watching this on Netflix is inevitable.
Yes, I'm talking about the original Superman movie from 1978. I decided to check it out after Oliver Harper, whose retrospectives I adore, talked so much about it. And indeed it turned out to be a gem of a superhero creation movie. Marlon Brando and Christopher Reeve are perfect casting for Jor-El and Kal-El. The movie is written with three clear acts. Everything gets the time it deserves: Kal-El's journey from Krypton and God-like birth on Earth, his teenage years and finally his reveal as Superman. I must admit that I did not like the teenage Superman and the campy Lex Luthor role written for Gene Hackman.
This is the last movie in Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy. It is a testament that if you put together a great bunch of actors, they can usually make anything worth watching. It is hard not to watch anything that has Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Martin Freeman. This is a delectable sci-fi comedy about growing up, middle age and all that jazz. A group of friends try to recreate a pub crawl from their high-school days in their small town only to realize that everyone has turned into alien robots. Clever jokes all through the movie!
I do watch movies at the theater! From Edgar Wright comes a super petrolhead movie that leaves you asking for one more car chase. The music tracks are all perfectly synced to the action and the soundtracks never stop coming. It was a bit sad to see all the bad guys being finished off though. I also hoped Baby would have got that final car chase to freedom from the cops instead of surrendering meekly.
I do enjoy mainstream Hollywood movies! The original Predator is how sci-fi action movies should be: simple. A jungle, one alien predator and a handful of commandos who will be killed off one by one. Tense, short and a good watch. This 1987 film has aged well.
This is one of those big-star movies that somehow escaped the limelight, but turns out it is surprisingly good. An ageing Russell Crowe with a paunch and Ryan Gosling are two mediocre private detectives brought together to find a missing girl. Set in 70s Los Angeles, this is a noir with comedy, riveting all through. Special mention for Gosling's daughter who is super-endearing.
It is hard not to like anything with Irrfan Khan in it. This comedy hits many pertinent issues in India like the school mafia, RTE fraud and English medium as a class. The only flaw is the terribly unrealistic ending. Irrfan and Saba Qamar are a spunky pair and I would love to see them again in a comedy or rom-com.
This is quite an interesting dark comedy centered around the drug problem in Punjab. Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Diljit Dosanjh turn in great acting, while Kareena Kapoor sticks out like a sore thumb in her always-smiling avatar.