It is that time of the year again! I watched about 60 movies this year, roughly one every weekend. Though I continue to choose movies carefully, yet again many of the so-called highly-acclaimed movies did not really wow me. I found only a handful to be good enough to share here.
Yasujiro Ozu was without a doubt the greatest discovery I made this year. This is his first talkie and my first Ozu. It was truly transformative! The parental themes explored are timeless and the acting is superlative. Every scene left me questioning how so much beauty and emotion could be effected in 2015 by a pre-WW2 B&W movie?! The only explanation is that Ozu transcends the medium he is working with. This simply has to be one of the greatest movies ever made.
This is one of the earliest Stanley Kubrick movies and I think his best one along with 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick uses a single act from the trench warfare era of WW1 to explore the fears, emotions and complexities facing the everyday people thrown into the conflict and the power games played by their superiors. The first trench scene and a few others have the punch to wow almost 60 years after their creation.
A dreamy, other-worldly movie that is incredibly funny and mesmerizing. It revolves around two Western characters lost amidst Japanese culture and lost in their lives. There is a sensitive touch to everything at the hands of Sofia Coppala. Bill Murray is in his most enjoyable stint here. The Alone in Kyoto track from the soundtrack and its corresponding Kyoto exploration piece from the movie are delicious.
A Hayao Miyazaki animated film for Studio Ghibli, need I say more? A fantasy about the travails of a young witch and her cat in a strange new port city. I was transported back to my childhood summers reading Enid Blyton adventures. As always, please watch the original with subtitles. The Disney-fied English version is truly pathetic, turning mature lines into childish dialogue aimed at kids!
Themes of distance, love, time and seasons run around in this exquisitely beautiful anime. The narration and pace are a bit fast and I had to watch it a few times to absorb it all. I cannot but help hum the One More Time track from its soundtrack whenever I think about this movie.
A masterpiece and my first from Akira Kurosawa. The movie explores the selfishness of humans, depicted in how witnesses to a murder all embellish the story to suit themselves. Needless to mention that the B&W cinematography from this 1950 movie is stunning. I have to note that this movie is quite over-hyped in Western reviews, being their first introduction to Japanese movies. There are many equally brilliant directors like Ozu and Koreeda.
I am always up for some noir! Jake Gyllenhaal hits his career best performance in this fantastic caper. The soundscapes and vistas of past-bedtime LA are gorgeous. The subject is visceral, repulsive and creepy.
Slow, beautiful and complex black movie that looks into the delicacy and intricacy of a relationship. Emayatzy Corinealdi rules her role. I love the Perfect Darkness track from this one.
I have been watching Bond movies in order all through this year. I found that this first Bond movie is the best of them all. Exotic Jamaica and a fabulous young Sean Connery kick off the train. In just 5 minutes of his appearance, he blows away every other Bond actor since! This movie sets up almost all the tropes followed in the rest: the trademark music, the opening credit gunshot and animation, the cheeky lines, the dress, the manner, the equipment, the females, everything!
A Hitchcock mystery, great lines for Cary Grant, the beautiful Grace Kelly and the French Riviera. All the guilty pleasures of a thriller novel delivered on a platter.
I have not read the Tolstoy tome and this is my first movie of that work. It is shot like a fantasy play on stage and took some time for me to get used to this unique perspective. Kiera Knightley is brilliant and so is Jude Law.
Great characters, an easy atmosphere and good discussion of family life. Irfan Khan is effortless, Deepika is great and Amitabh looks like he had loads of fun. The only irritation were the product placements.
What I loved in this funny movie was the 90s time period and the Haridwar setting. Bhumi Pednekar and Ayushmann have great chemistry. The ending is silly and abrupt, but a fine movie nonetheless.