Helvetica

Rating: 4/4 (Clean and delicious typeface porn!)

When was the last time you walked out after watching a movie and the familiar world outside looked strangely new, interesting and fascinating? The documentary Helvetica directed by Gary Hustwit can have that effect on you! Helvetica is as much about the influence of typefaces in our daily life as it is about the history, effect and prevalence of this particular typeface. The documentary was created for the 50th anniversary of the now-omnipresent Helvetica typeface. Starting from its Swiss-German origins the documentary follows this typeface down to the 60s when it really explodes in use for brands, signage and advertisements in the Modernism age. It takes a bit of a backseat during Postmodernism that follows and rebounds back once Apple and PC computers become popular. Thankfully, the movie is not just about the Helvetica typeface, though that is the protagonist. It also treats the viewer to passionate discussions about typefaces in particular and design in general by some of the most brilliant typeface and graphic designers of the world. We hear the Modernist camp sing peans of Helvetica and the post-Modernists tear it up for its conformity and soporific qualities.

And let us be frank, this documentary is also pure typeface porn! It is full of beautiful urban photographic shots depicting the use of Helvetica and other fonts. These delicious moments were pure joy to watch and especially so since these are the kind of abstract photos I enjoy to see and capture. The documentary also infused me with a bit of gyaan on the difference between Modernism and Postmodernism in art and design. I was finally able to figure out which camp I belonged to. Though I can appreciate chaotic and rebellious colors and fonts, my principal taste lies with crisp typefaces, clean lines, wide spaces and minimal usage of colors. Yeah, I discovered that I am a Modernist! If you appreciate good design, art, fonts, websites, Helvetica is a documentary that is not to be missed!

Hot Fuzz

Rating: 3/4 (Pegg & Frost churn up a good action comedy, British-style)

Though I was not familiar with the main actors in Hot Fuzz, I still enjoyed their performances in this very-British parody take on cop-buddy action movies like Bad Boys and Lethal Weapon. Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is a top notch hardworking cop in London who gets promoted and dumped into rural Sandford village. This sleepy village where everyone seems to know everyone else has zero crime and gets on Angel’s nerves, who yearns for crime and action. He befriends his plump fellow officer Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) and they turn into buddies. But (thankfully) Sandford is not really as calm as it looks on the surface. Prominent village folks start dying in what look like accidents, but Angel quickly discovers are serial murders. It is up to Angel and Danny to pull the blankets off Sandford and find the manslayers.

The chemistry between and the acting of the fast and slick Simon Pegg and the slow and bumbling Nick Frost works strongly for Hot Fuzz. It is hard to imagine this movie without them. They share lots of really hilarious slapstick lines and scenes between them. Add to that the frustration of Pegg caught in a sleepy village filled with old folks, which is well milked for laughs. The first half of the movie is especially funny, filled with British action comedy, something which I have seen rarely. The latter half turns into a comic Hollywood-isque shoot-em-up and blow-em-up. This is where the movie starts to show its limits, a little help from Hollywood might have helped. Still Hot Fuzz turns out to be a rib tickling action comedy, which can easily be watched a few times.

The Hangover

Rating: 4/4 (Easily the most hilarious movie of 2009!)

The Hangover is easily the most hilarious movie of 2009! Doug is getting married in a couple of days. He heads off to Las Vegas with friends Phil and Stu and his brother-in-law Alan for his bachelor party. The guys have some drinks and they wake up the next day in their hotel room not remembering a single thing! Doug is found missing, there is a tiger in the bathroom, a baby in the closet, Phil is wearing a hospital bracelet and Stu is missing a tooth. The guys have 2 days to figure out what the hell happened during the night and find Doug before his wedding.

The Hangover is best watched in a theater or with a bunch of friends. The movie is fast, feels authentic and the laughs never stop coming. Justin Bartha (playing Doug) is missing for most of the movie, so has almost no role to play. It is the odd chemistry between Bradley Cooper (playing Phil), Ed Helms (Stu) and Zach Galifianakis (Alan) which totally rocks this movie. The choice of background music and tracks is surprisingly good. The cinematography is far better than what you would expect in a comedy movie. The shots of Las Vegas shown during the opening credits are especially delicious. All in all, The Hangover is a loud fun ride not to be missed!