Tag Archives: Steven Spielberg

Oscar Nominations 2018 Best Picture – what’s your call?

Oscar Nominations 2018 Best Picture – what’s your call?

written by Souranath Banerjee

Oscar Nominations 2018 Best Picture: Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel (for the second time), on this March 4th evening we have a date with our beloved movies from 2017 – the nominations for the Oscars – The 90th Academy Awards ceremony traditionally presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

After last year’s La La Land hiccup and Moonlight‘s sudden triumph speculating this year’s Best Picture has certainly become more difficult a task but have to admit the fun remains the same, even more!

In total nine nominations for Best Picture and I have listed them according to my order of liking, in a way keeping my favourite one in the number 1 spot. You all do your own homework, predict, guess and wonder, and let’s see who can hit the bull’s eye!

9. Darkest Hour

A historical biography directed by Joe Wright which in total has six Oscar nominations this year!

The film revolves around the early days of World War II when Churchill was appointed the British Prime Minister and showed immense character that changed history forever.

Gary Oldman is undoubtedly an actor par excellence and his performance as Winston Churchill is awe-inspiring (every chance of winning the Male Leading Role). But I am real doubtful about the movie winning big this year.

8. Dunkirk

Directed by Christopher Nolan and brilliant music by Hans Zimmer (will probably win the for his Original Score).

Another film about World War II portraying the tensed war-front drama when soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France were at the mercy of the German Army.

In total eight nominations, though there are no acting or writing nominations and I think the movie won’t run till the end round of this year’s Oscar race.

7. The Post

The epic battle between the press and the government, a dangerous mission taken up by female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to unmask a massive coverup.

Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks together, that too directed by Steven Spielberg – this movie seems to be the perfect Oscar recipe but yet for me this is not really the Best Picture of last year.

6. Lady Bird

A delightful coming of age story of an artistically inclined seventeen-year-old girl and her chemistry between her friends and relatives – especially the love-hate relationship with her mother.

Directed by Greta Gerwig and brilliantly performed by Saoirse Ronan this is one film I absolutely enjoyed watching but still am not so sure about its Oscar win.

5. Phantom Thread

Paul Thomas Anderson collaborates with none other than Daniel Day-Lewis (supposed to be his last movie as an actor).

Superbly artistic, a visual treat that portrays the early world of fashion through the romance between a renowned dressmaker and his muse – a beautiful and determined young girl.

But then again the movie winning the Oscar – a bit doubtful scenario.

4. Get Out

An African-American guy meets his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend but things are not exactly what it seems to be. There lies some dark dangerous secrets that changes his life forever.

Now a low budget horror thriller gets nominated in the Best picture category – well, that’s a first!

Jordan Peele‘s direction and Daniel Kaluuya acting are spot on; though honestly to me the film apparently doesn’t look like a tough competition as an Oscar contender but you never know, unpredictability is the name of the game!

3. Call Me by Your Name

A summertime gay romance between a 17-year-old boy and a twenty-something man who has visited Italy as the young boy’s father’s research assistant.

(Click for Review)

A beautifully shot film directed by Luca Guadagnino and superb performances by Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet. Though not nominated in the direction, cinematography or editing categories it is a tough aim for the big spot but then if the movie snatches the Oscar I would  say it totally deserved it.

2. The Shape of Water

An incredible love-story between a mute lady-janitor and an amphibious creature that being held captive at a top secret research facility.

With 13 nominations, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and a superb performance by Sally Hawkins this visually stunning movie probably has the highest bets for the award. My favourite too. Fingers crossed!

1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three billboards asking for justice – a mother’s unique way of challenging the authorities who failed to capture her daughter’s murder.

Directed by Martin McDonagh and a powerhouse of brilliant acting from Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell (sure will get awards for Female Leading Role or/and Supporting Male Role).

With total seven nominations, brilliantly written and shot with great precision – this is my most favourite film of last year and I hope this film gets its due i.e the Oscar of course!

Similar Interest: Best of 2017 you may have missed!

Similar Interest: Best of World Cinema 2017

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

The Shallows (2016)

The Shallows review

written by Souranath Banerjee

By far the most sophisticated ‘sea-monster-bikini-babe’ film ever made!

My Ratings: 3.5/5

If you notice carefully all these posters below have two things in common – a sea monster of some sort (it can be piranhas, crocodiles, whales, octopus, barracudas) and then there is a helpless babe in bikini being terrorised!

barracuda-poster

piranha-poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

tentacles-poster

sea-beast-poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now these films have probably created their own unique genre and i am sure their own niche audience as well, and undoubtedly The Shallows is the most sophisticated ‘sea-monster-bikini-babe’ film ever made!

Nancy (Blake Lively), the surfer with a perfect bikini body, the girl shallows-poster1who has arrived on a secluded beach in Brazil, all alone, yet enjoying the waves until of course a big white shark wants to take her out for dinner!

The better half of the film is focused on Nancy’s survival, mostly on rocks and buoys while the hungry shark circles around her and feeds on the remaining cast.

Now the big question of course is does the poor shark remain hungry forever?

To get that answer you will have to watch the film but one thing is for sure – don’t you ever underestimate the power of a lonely girl in bikini!

The Shallows directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and written by Anthony Jaswinski is a cool film though, mostly entertaining (if you are into shallows-posterthis genre), often thrilling as well, and the best part is Blake Lively‘s realistic performance. She has been my favourite actress since The Age of Adaline (2015).

Innovative camera work including some great under water shots by Flavio Martínez Labiano and of course the visual effects team needs a pat on their back – the massive ugly looking shark was looking real enough!

Overall a decent sea-moster-thriller but please stop comparing it with Steven Spielberg‘s all time classic Jaws (1975). Don’t.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comwww.imdb.com.

Bridge of Spies (2015)

Bridge of Spies review.

written by Souranath Banerjee

My Ratings: 3.8/5.

It’s definitely a good Spielberg film but certainly not one of his best.

2015 must have been a difficult year for all the espionage agencies because no matter how hard the spies try to hide, their covers are repeatedly been blown in the numerous spy-films made on them.

From the Kingsmen to 007, Tom Cruise to U.N.C.L.E – this year Hollywood has been obsessed with Spy movies. And now Steven Spielberg decides to join the party.

After a gap of 10 years actor Tom Hanks and director Steven bridge-of-spies-poster2Spielberg join hands, this being their fourth collaboration (previous ones being Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal); and this time they come up with a historical spy-thriller (based on true events) called Bridge of Spies.

The film is set in 1960, when the Cold War was at it’s peak.

Bridge of Spies is actually a biopic on American insurance-attorney James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) who agreed to risk his reputation and his safety (as well as his family’s), in order to serve his country in the most righteous manner possible.

Firstly, he had to defend a captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) in the American court of justice and then, he was recruited by the CIA and sent to the-then hostile Germany (Berlin being partitioned) to negotiate a spy-exchange mission between the two rival countries – America and Russia.

Rudolf Abel being the Russian spy who was exchanged with Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell), the American pilot whose aircraft was shot down over the Soviet borders (the U-2 incident).

Now, Bridge of Spies not only successfully depicts the moral obligation of Donovan’s character and his constant quest for justice
bridge-of-spies-poster1but the film also manages to create the tension of that particular era,
the desperate attempt of the two super powers trying to topple each other by any means possible.

But then, don’t expect too much dramatization of events.

Bridge of Spies faithfully clings to the pages of history, not much of a suspense element created anywhere in the movie, pretty much gives away the basic story line from the start and also it’s more of a dialogue based spy film.

Written by Matt Charman and the famous Coen brothers ( Ethan Coen and Joel Coen), and with Spielberg’s direction and some brilliant performances, the film surely deserves attention.

If you like authentic historical espionage cinema more than the thrilling fast-paced fictional spy films – this one is tailor made for you.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com

Best Jew-Nazi dramas during the Holocaust (10+1list)

Best Jew-Nazi dramas during the Holocaust.

written by Souranath Banerjee

For anybody who is not familiar with the word ‘holocaust‘ (though i doubt that), it is a term used to define the genocide in which approximately six million Jews (including one million Jewish children) were killed by Adolf Hitler through his Nazi regime.   

There were another five million non-Jewish victims of Nazi mass murders as well.

And thus, in between1941 to 1945, while Germany was fighting the WorldWar II in the forefront, approximately eleven million people were executed in a preplanned and secretive manner throughout Nazi-Germany and the other German-occupied territories.

Numerous films and documentaries have been made to portray those unpredictable and desperate times.

Interestingly the films listed below neither emphasize on the WWII nor particularly based on the inhumane concentration camp stories; these films tell the tales of those who defied against the barbaric massacre of human lives, of those who challenged the deadly systematic annihilation and survived (or at least tried to).

Most of these films are based on true stories and are definitely the best Jew-Nazi dramas in the times of Holocaust.

Please have a look.

10. Black Book (2006)

Original title: Zwartboek. Language: Dutch.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKEDKF8iDUw

black-book-posterDirected by Paul Verhoeven, this one was the official Netherlands entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category for the Oscars.

A Jewish singer who transforms herself from a war victim to a spy, she uses her charms and also puts her life at risk to pass German war secrets to the Dutch Resistance.

A visual treat and a plot that has so many twists to keep you guessing till the end.

9. Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)

Original title: Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage. Language: German.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x14U3R3-dFE

Sophie-Scholl-posterThe White Rose was the German World War II anti-Nazi resistance movement and young Sophie Scholl was one of the most prominent members of it. 

The film is a dramatized version of brave Sophie Scholl’s arrest, her interrogation, her trial till her sentence in 1943 Munich. 

Directed by Marc Rothemund, a chilling war drama, a must watch. 

8. In Darkness (2011)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHuPtd9oCSQ

in-darkness-poster

Leopold Socha, a man probably lesser known than Oskar Schindler but then again he saved numerous lives in the Nazi-occupied Polish city of Lvov during Holocaust.

He risked his own life hiding Jewish refugees from the Nazis in the sewers for almost 14 months! 

Directed by Polish female director Agnieszka Holland, a heart touching story of humanity and valor. 

7. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnrRy6kSFF0

inglorious-bastards-posterFiction at it’s best; two separate plans to assassinate the Nazi leaders unfortunately coincide and how!

Quentin Tarantino‘s take on the gruesome times of history – a drama told in his unique style, quirky and essentially violent.

Brad PittChristoph WaltzMichael FassbenderDiane KrugerEli Roth among others. One of the most popular one in the list.

6. Defiance (2008)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-9eUXSzZNk

defiance-posterIn the Belarussian forests the Jewish brothers escapes from the Nazis and built their own village to protect themselves and also 1000 other Jews. 

Directed by Edward Zwick, this is the epic story of defiance as some Jews decided to fought back against their oppressors.  

Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber great performances indeed. 

5. The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7zDyJcF3ko

diary-of-anne-frank-posterIn Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, a young Jewish girl named Anne Frank is forced to hide in an attic with her family and a few friends. 

The film is based on the real accounts of events documented by Anne herself in her diary.

Directed by George Stevens, this one is a brilliant tale of the war seen through the innocent eyes of a young  girl hoping to be free some day.

4. The Pawnbroker (1964)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNLBKdV83co

pawnbroker-posterA Jewish pawnbroker who once survived through the savage concentration camps is too damaged and scarred to trust or love others. 

An unforgettable performance by Rod Steiger, a brilliant actor of his times.

Directed by Sidney Lumet, the film is a gem and deserves much more recognition and popularity than it ever earned.  Please do watch.  

3. Amen. (2002)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McEkNCpTOKs

amen-posterKurt Gerstein, a German sanitation engineer who developed the lethal gas Zyklon-B, didn’t realize that the same gas will be used by the SS to kill millions of Jews in the camps.

He in order to stop the genocide tries to inform the Pope Pius XII and ask for the Vatican’s help.

Directed by Costa-Gavras, a film full of passion and drama.

2. The Pianist (2002)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_jE7-6Uv7E

pianist-poster1Talented Adrien Brody as the pianist who desperately struggles to escape from the clutches of the Nazis and from being sent to the ghettos and executed.  

Directed by my favorite director Roman Polanski, a film so powerful and emotional and yet very realistic. 

The best Holocaust movie ever made – yes, my vote surely goes for this one.

  1. Schindler’s List (1993)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdRGC-w9syA

schindlers-list-posterMaster director Steven Spielberg tells the tale of Oskar Schindler, a German business man who is responsible for saving many Jewish lives (more than 1000) from being gassed during the Holocaust.

Liam Neeson as Schindler has given his career best performance.

Probably the most popular film representing this particular historical period.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch).

+1. Downfall (2004)

Original title: Der Untergang, Language: German.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wD1Riwv5wqw

downfall-poster1

This particular film explores the final days of the Reich and of it’s leaders such as Himmler, Goring, Goebbels and Hitler himself.

April 1945, chances of Germany winning the war looks grim but still the paranoid dictator wants to fight till the end. 

Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, one of the most microscopic view on last days of Hitler. 

Similar Interest: Best Concentration Camp films during the Holocaust (10+1list).

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comwww.imdb.com

Best War Films of all times (20+1list)

Best War Films of all times

written by Souranath Banerjee

Best War Films can be generally categorized into two basic types. Firstly the ones that glamorize and romanticize the concept of war for the War-Films-postersheer entertainment of the audience, as most of us want to enjoy the thrill of the battle-zone but shy away from the horrors and perils of it – more like a harmless video game!

And then the second kind that actually portray war as realistically as possible; the action, the bloodshed, the destruction, the cries of the wounded and the death of the young and innocents.

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

The films listed below mostly belong to the second category; they are the Best War Films of all times that have the audacity to paint the ugly face of war and tell stories of not only courage and strength but also of the brutality and helplessness of both the armed and the civilians.

Let the battle begin.

20. The Beast of War (1988)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcJuxYXpI5w

Best-War-FilmsA much underrated war film based on the Afgan-Soviet conflict, but it superbly portrays the brutality of a battle zone, the psychology and instincts of the armed and civilians.

Directed by Kevin Reynolds, a war drama mostly based on a Tank crew led by an eccentric commander who needs to be stopped for good.

Far more realistic than the 2014 star-studded Tank-movie – Fury.

19. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51lo2dpaZ_g

Best-War-FilmsNominated for 4 Oscars, won one; brilliantly directed by Clint Eastwood, this film is a heroic take of the 40 days war between America and Japan to capture the island of Iwo Jima (a potential strategic point).

A brilliant war drama from the Japanese soldiers perspective, outstanding performances, a thrilling yet emotional storyline and very realistic depiction of the battle.

18. Red Cliff (2008)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pd0bqLQrtdE

Best-War-FilmsEmperor Han under the influence of his Prime Minister Cao Cao fought epic battles to unite all of China under his sole command.

Directed by John Woo, this film is the first part of the monumental battle of Red Cliff which altered the Chinese history forever.

Red Cliff II (2009) is probably even a better cinematic experience. Another must watch war-film. 

17.  The Battle of Algiers (1966)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca3M2feqJk8

Best-War-FilmsBased on the Algerian revolution in the 1950s, as the people of Algeria seeking independence rebel against the French government and fight a ruthless war that ends after a series of tortures and bombings.

Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, commissioned by Algerian government, banned in France until recently, nominated for 3 Oscars in two separate non-consecutive years!

16. Kanal (1957)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LnLszHOLNs

Best-War-FilmsSet in the last days of the Warsaw uprising in 1944, a group of Polish resistance fighters reluctantly use the sewer system to escape the indomitable German wrath.

Directed by Andrzej Wajda, this is a unique war drama that explores the human instinct of the soldiers to survive above everything else. A tragic yet highly realistic depiction of the ugly face of war.

15.  The Hurt Locker (2008)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIbFvqFYRT4

Best-War-FilmsFinally a film on the bomb squad – the so-called technicians of the military who risk their lives many times a day to ensure safety for their troops.

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, this tensed war drama follows a maverick Sergeant (Jeremy Renner) who leads his bomb squad-team through the heart of the Iraq war’s modern IED warfare.

14.  The Cross of Iron (1977)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AonZdAfEQgA

Best-War-FilmsCross of Iron is one of the top military decorations awarded for extraordinary courage but what if somebody undeserving wants to claim it for his personal ambition?

Directed by Sam Peckinpah, a brutal portrayal of WWII as the film follows the fate of a German unit that faces extreme danger due to the treachery of their own commander. James Coburn‘s performance is exceptional!

13. Stalingrad (1993)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlMw8CjyV80

Best-War-FilmsAs the name suggests, this one is an epic portrayal of the battle of Stalingard; from the time when the German Army… tries to invade the city till their struggle to maintain dominance in the cold Russian winter.

Directed by Joseph Vilsmaier, the sheer scale of the film is highly commendable, and then the brilliant performances, the realistic story-line, the music and the depiction of the ugly face of human devastation in a war – probably the best War film ever made.

12. The Cruel Sea (1953)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joUDAD3GB3g

Best-War-Films

Though pretty successful when released, and yet so underrated, one of the lesser popular war films but believe me, it surely deserves a spot in this list.

Directed by Charles Frend, this one is a terrific war drama of a British convoy ship in action over the North Atlantic during the WW II. 

A powerful script, intense situations and superb acting, specially by Jack Hawkins.

11. Platoon (1986)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KztP7SKe0uk

Best-War-FilmsWar often gets too brutal for the young recruits and the Vietnam War was no different.

The film is directed by Oliver Stone (a Vietnam veteran himself) and he won the Oscar for this film!

It is said to be the most complete war film ever made, though it’s banned in Vietnam because of its depiction of the Vietnamese people. A must watch in the list!

10. Enemy at the Gates (2001)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O-sMh_DO6I

Best-War-FilmsWorld War II, the battle in Stalingrad will decide the fate of the war! And one Russian snipper Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law), seems to be making all the difference!

But then the Germans send a master snipper to compete, and then the deathly game begins!

Based on true characters, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, starring Ed Harris, Joseph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz – a brilliant war drama full of action, suspense and romance. Definitely the best snipper movie ever made!

9. Paths of Glory (1957)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmDA60X-f_A

Best-War-FilmsDirected by none other than Stanley Kubrick, for me this film has always scored higher than Kubrick’s other two famous war-films Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Dr. Strangelove (1964).

The ruthlessness of the battle (WWI) and the dirty war-politics played by the higher army officials – portrayed to perfection.

One of Kirk Douglas‘s most memorable performances till date. 

8. Apocalypse Now (1979)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkrhkUeDCdQ

Best-War-FilmsMaster director Francis Ford Coppola shot nearly 200 hours of footage – a film that took 16 months of shooting and 3 years of editing!

Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando comes together in this psychologically disturbing Vietnam War saga. 

The sound of the helicopter wings panning from left to right as they are dissolve into a match cut with the ceiling fan – simply epic!

7. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiObc2XmVqw

Best-War-Films

Directed by Lewis Milestone, this was the first talkie war film to win the Oscar! (won both the best picture and the best director awards).

Banned in Germany soon after its release as they claimed that the Germans were shown as cowards!

Though visuals of extreme violence was consciously avoided but still the film’s depiction of WWI is damn honest and brutal.

6. Das Boot (1981)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMj0_wCn6jM

Best-War-FilmsDirected by Wolfgang Petersen this is the epic tale of the crew of a German U-boat (submarine) during the last phase of WW II. 

Highly claustrophobic as most of the film is shot inside the submarine and yet so dramatic and powerful. Some of the tensed moments in the film are deliberately slow with a nerve wrenching effect on the audience. Jürgen Prochnow is brilliant!

5. Come and See (1985)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-Ro0SZf438

Best-War-FilmsIn this film the horrors of war (WW II) is depicted in an ultra-realistic manner, often considered too graphic and brutal. 

Directed by Elem Klimov, the film revolves around a young boy who finds an old rifle and instinctively decides to join the Soviet Army. 

Original uniforms and live ammunitions were used for authenticity.

4. The Thin Red Line (1998)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCmlOhsIwBk

Best-War-Films‘Every man fights their own war’ and so does each of them!

Directed by Terrence Malick the film was nominated for Oscars in 7 categories!

A philosophical war drama starring Jim CaviezelSean PennNick NolteAdrien BrodyJohn CusackJohn C. ReillyWoody HarrelsonJared LetoJohn TravoltaGeorge Clooney.

3. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlC7XBayj0s

Best-War-FilmsDirected by  David Lean who is also famous for his other war films like In Which We Serve (1942) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

Based on the story when the British prisoners in a Japanese camp were ordered to built a bridge. The film took 7 Oscars that year, won in all the major categories!

William HoldenAlec Guinness and Jack Hawkins in their career-best performances.

2. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EsVtn2GvBo

Best-War-Films

A team lead by Tom Hanks was set to save Private Ryan (Matt Damon) and bring him home.

Steven Spielberg directed this film and according to many film-lovers it contains some of the most authentic war scenes ever filmed (specially the Omaha Beach battle sequence).

Undoubtedly the most popular war film ever made. Also Voted #1 greatest war film in UK’s Channel 4 poll in 2005. 

1. Ivan’s Childhood (1962)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=setzqMoEEUU

Best-War-FilmsThis is the story of 12 year old Ivan, a young war hero, a spy and most importantly a soldier!

Directed by the renowned Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky

The film is one of the most poetic and beautifully shot war films I have ever seen. Though it doesn’t show much of actual combat but still it manages to deliver the chills of war to its full effect.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)

+1. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2-1hz1juBI

Best-War-FilmsA biographical take on an American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield) who fought the Battle of Okinawa without a gun!

Directed by Mel Gibson, this one is an astonishing tale of a man whose religious views didn’t allow him to carry a weapon, or kill anybody. But it didn’t stop him from saving hundreds of lives and winning the Medal of Honor for his incredible courage – without firing one single shot!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comwww.imdb.com.

Ex Machina (2015)

Ex Machina review.

My Ratings: 4/5.

At one time Nathan (Oscar Isaac), the genius billionaire in a drunken feat recites these words before he finally swoons away.  …In sleep, in confusion, in the depths of shame, the good deeds a man has done before defend him.

ex-machina-poster2Another time Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), the young employee shares another quote with his boss Nathan. “I am become death, destroyer of the worlds”

These lines are extracts from Bhagavad Gita. J. Robert Oppenheimer’s quoted these exact lines after he successfully tested his infamous invention – the atomic bomb!

But what exactly did Nathan create which can be so dangerous and even has the potential to destroy the world?

A robot, Ex Machina or in Latin ‘Deus ex machina’ which means ‘a god From the Machine’.

ex-machina-poster3Mastermind Nathan, the creator of ‘Bluebook’ which seems to be the ‘leading search engine’ of the world (more like google in the real world) has recently managed to develop artificial intelligence! 

His latest robotic model is named Ava (Alicia Vikander), a female version of course. Beautiful and seductive.

And for the final ‘Turing test’ (a test that determines if the machine can pass itself off as human to another human), Nathan brings in one of his company’s young employer Cabel with the sole intention to monitor Cabel’s interaction with Ava.

By one week, if Ava doesn’t qualify the test, then she will be scrapped like her earlier versions and a new model will take her place. 

ex-machina-poster4But is Ava aware of her fate? Is she capable enough to change her own destiny?

A tensed Sci Fi thriller that revolves mainly around these three characters, a perfect combination of Nathan’s arrogant intellect, Cabel’s innocent confusion and Ava’s seductive benevolence.

Norway is the actual location of Nathan’s ultramodern house, though most of the film is shot indoor, which gives a claustrophobic feel and also symbolizes Ava’s confinement i guess.

Ex Machina is Alex Garland‘s directorial debut (also famous for writing novels and screenplays such as The Beach28 Days Later…Never Let Me Go) and undoubtedly he has done a great job. 

Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac, both did great portraying their somewhat complicated characters. Swedish actress Alicia Vikander deserves a special mention since being a robot her expressions and body-language had to be very subtle yet effective.

ex-machina-poster5But the real winner in this 1 hour 48 min futuristic drama is the brilliant use of visual effects. The amazing special effects give the film it’s much necessary believability.

Rob Hardy, the cinematographer played well with the colors, mostly used Red, Green and Blue (RGB). And the music by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury compliments the visuals and often helps intensifying the tension. 

Many famous films like Steven Spielberg‘s A.I. Artificial IntelligenceRidley Scott‘s Blade Runner and then the latest Neill Blomkamp‘s Chappie – all has their individual takes on artificial intelligence but Ex Machina is probably the first one to make a psychological thriller out of it.

A bit slow paced maybe, and mostly dialogue based but in spite of not being personally a fan of Sci Fi movies, i find it pretty impressive.

Best Modern Black and White movies (10+1list)

Best Modern Black and White movies

written by Souranath Banerjee.

The transition of Cinema from ‘black and white’ to ‘color’ is a unique evolutionary process that took years of experimentation.

Evidently in Europe (specifically in U.k and France), as early as in the beginning of 1900, the first few colored footage were made; they were mostly hand-colored short films. Then in 1914, in U.K Natural Color Kinematograph Company made the first ever full length feature film in color named The World, the Flesh and the Devil. 

In 1918 Cupid Angling was made in US by Douglass Natural Color The-Wizard-of-Oz-posterFilm Inc. which is the first American ‘colored’ feature. Then of course The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Gone with the Wind (1939) established the era of colorful films.

Eventually the dominance of ‘black and white’ films faded away and cinema was full of colors! By the late 60s only a handful of black and white films are made each year.

Nowadays the black and white medium is regarded as a rare artistic choice for stylized visuals, or specifically used to portray a certain desired mood/emotion.

And now, the list contains some of the Best Modern Black and White movies. Enjoy!

10. Pi (1998)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo18VIoR2xU

pi-poster

Darren Aronofsky‘s first feature and an amazing black and white thriller.

A paranoid mathematician who tries to unlock nature’s universal patterns with the help of the magic number Pi!

Matthew Libatique shot the dark contrast images and successfully creates the gritty atmosphere needed for the film.

9. Nebraska (2013)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT5tqPojMtg

nebraska-poster1

Oscar nominated film (nominated in six categories including ‘best film’, ‘best director’ and ‘best cinematographer’).

Directed by Alexander Payne, this black and white road movie is wonderfully shot by Phedon Papamichael.

An emotional yet humorous father-son relationship like never seen before.

8. Frances Ha (2012)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBn5dgXFMis

frances-ha-poster

Noah Baumbach presents one of the most endearing and funny film of recent times. 

A black and white comedy drama that tells the entertaining tale of an ordinary New York girl named Frances. She is quirky, childlike and sometimes a bit immature as well.

Beautifully shot by Sam Levy, the film is as spontaneous and free-spirited as it’s leading lady.

7. The Turin Horse (2011)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNkN_xCXozw

turin-horse-poster

From the master directors Béla Tarr and co-director Ágnes Hranitzky this one is an unique film with very less dialogues and absolutely brilliant visuals. 

Shot by Fred Kelemen, the film has long takes that meticulously portrays the struggle of each and every character.

Rural settings with harsh climate – black and white imagery at it’s best.

6. Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_7uQsP2TBk

coffee-and-cigarettes-poster

A series of short, single location films based on people interaction which all have coffee and cigarettes in common!

One of the coolest films ever, directed by Jim Jarmusch with unique casting for each segment.

A black and white film that uses the checker tables, the black coffee and the white cigarette smoke to it’s best advantage.

5. Control (2007)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c2_B_cWK_M

control-poster

A biography of the famous lead singer of the band Joy Division – Ian Curtis.

Directed by Anton Corbijn, the film depicts the troubled life of the musical genius which ended at the young age of 23 (he committed suicide).

The film is a simple yet stylized series of black and white visuals shot brilliantly by Martin Ruhe.

4. The Artist (2011)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OK7pfLlsUQM

Artist-poster

Nominated for the Oscars in 10 categories and winning 5 awards including the ‘Best Motion Picture of the Year’, ‘best direction’ and ‘best actor’!

A black and white film directed by Michel Hazanavicius that is arty as well as highly entertaining.

Shot by Guillaume Schiffman (oscar nominated), the film is a treat for all black and white cinema lovers!

3. Ida (2013)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xyxFsg_rrY

ida-poster

The Oscar winner in the ‘best foreign film category’.

Pawel Pawlikowski direction and amazing cinematography by Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal.

The film is uniquely in square format (aspect ratio 1.33 : 1) and interestingly most of the frames have huge amount of negative space on the top. A must see.

2. Schindler’s List (1993)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdRGC-w9syA

schindlers-list-poster

Probably the most popular black and white film of our times.

Directed by Steven Spielberg the film is a biography on Oskar Schindler’s life who helped the Jews and saved many lives during the Nazi invasion of Poland in the World War II. 

Shot by Janusz Kaminski this film has so strong imagery that one could never forget in their lives.

1. The White Ribbon (2009)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KJKvvvxY74

white-ribbon-poster

A little peaceful village haunted by a series of awful murders!

Directed by the acclaimed German director Michael Haneke, this film is a superb psychological mystery drama.

A black and white classic shot by Christian Berger, the film was also nominated in the Oscars for the Best Achievement in Cinematography category!

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most unique and cool one. A must watch).

+1. Sin City (2005)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2Dj6ktPU5c

sin-city-posterIf you want to use the word ‘stylized’ to define a film – this is the one.

Super cool visuals straight from Frank Miller‘s comic book pages, the film is an epic is it’s dark and violent story telling.

Directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez (he also shot the film), the most stylish black and white film ever.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comwww.imdb.com.

Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World review.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

My ratings: 3.8/5.

“We’re talking about an animal here.” – “A highly intelligent animal.”

“She is not eating them, she’s killing for sport.”

“Something is wrong. They’re communicating.”

Well, these are some of the dialogues in the film (even revealed in the film trailer if you remember) just to give you the basic idea of what a bad-ass dinosaur we are dealing with this time.

jurassic-world-poster4She is called the Indominus Rex (yes it’s a ‘she’). Primarily a mix breed of T-Rex and Velociraptor; which also has a bit of cuttle-fish DNA (so she can camouflage), and some amphibian DNA as well (capable of changing body temperature at will). And she also happens to be a killing machine!

Oh ya! Jurassic World the fourth franchise of the famous dino-saga is back and this time it’s bigger, though i won’t say it’s better but definitely ‘with more teeth’.

Steven Spielberg came out with the epic Jurassic Park way back in 1993 and it was a sensational experience (the best dinosaur film till date). And then followed The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and Jurassic Park III (2001).

jurassic-world-poster5And now after a gap of almost fifteen years Colin Trevorrow brings us the dinosaur theme park – the ‘Lost World’ where researchers have managed to create genetically evolved creatures from the past who are more intelligent, more dangerous and supposed to be more entertaining.

These prehistoric hybrid monsters are the star attractions of the park and people buy tickets to watch them feed and they can even take a ride with their favorite dinosaurs in a special car called The Gyrosphere.

John Hammond’s dream for a “Jurassic Park” finally becomes a reality in this film. (RIP Richard Attenborough)

jurassic-world-poster3But then (though predictable enough) the most evil creation of the park (the Indominus Rex) escapes from her captivity and causes extreme havoc that lasts for a good entertaining 124 mins.   

The star cast is good and to-the-point – Chris Pratt the raptor-tamer, Bryce Dallas Howard the non-emotional business woman turned emotional savior, Vincent D’Onofrio the bad guy, Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins the adventurous brothers to be rescued. 

Grand music by Michael Giacchino and superb visuals shot by John Schwartzman.

jurassic-world-poster1Overall a racy story-line, exciting chase sequences, dinosaurs killing humans, dinosaurs killing dinosaurs and superb VFX.

But when compared to the original Jurassic Park (since this one claims to be a direct sequel to it) Jurassic World falls short as it tries to show the emotional bonding of the main characters who are destined for not-to-be-eaten till the end credit rolls.

Watch Jurassic World in the biggest screen possible, keep your 3D glasses handy and enjoy the feeding frenzy of your favorite dinosaurs.

And for Irrfan Khan, helicopters may not be the ideal transport option.

Best of Stanley Kubrick

Best of Stanley Kubrick.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Regarded as the most talented and versatile film-maker of all times, Stanley Kubrick indeed was responsible for evolving Cinema to new heights.

Inspiration to the likes of Martin ScorseseSteven SpielbergJames CameronWoody Allen,The Coen brothersRidley Scott – in 2000, BAFTA renamed their lifetime achievement award in the name of Stanley Kubrick!

He never won an Oscar in the ‘best director’ category (the only time he won was in 1972 for his film 2001:A Space Odyssey in ‘best visual effects’ category) but all his films are immensely popular and groundbreaking in their own ways.

Introducing visual effects never seen before, using steady cams for the first time ever, shooting with lenses meant to be used by NASA and combining all that with brilliant selection of music – Stanley Kubrick is unique and awesome.

All of Stanley Kubrick’s films are favorites of mine and this list almost covers his entire life’s work.

Ok then, here we go.

10. Spartacus (1960)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcIMY1Ah3aw
Spatacus

A slave revolting against an empire – this film was the first of it’s kind.

Thanks to Kirk Douglas not only for his superb acting but primarily for looping in Kubrick as the replacement director for this film.

Won four Oscars Spartacus is one of the best historical film ever made.

Kubrick’s last Hollywood project.

9. The Killing (1956)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiDUFG56wT4

the killling

Kubrick’s first so-called professional film that has the touch of his genius.

Only in his twenties Kubrick managed to create a superb suspense thriller. One of the best in it’s genre till date.

Good performances and a gripping story line.

A classic heist story told in style – film noir at it’s very best.

8. Lolita (1962)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRVqgvW8100

lolita

Kubrick was bold enough to adopt Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel and that too successfully.

A young girl ‘a nymphet’ and a middle-aged professor (her step dad) – a scandalous affair in the making.

In those days when censor boards were proudly rigid only Kubrick could have done justice to such a plot. And believe me he did.

7. Paths of Glory (1957)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmDA60X-f_A

paths of glory

WWI was never been shown in such realistic and non-glamorous way before this film.

According to many this film is Kubrick’s first masterpiece. Shot beautifully, superb script and great acting by Kirk Douglas.

An anti-war film that stands the test of time, one of my personal favorite.

A must watch.

6. Barry Lyndon (1975)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lzSoKOs1fc

barry lyndon

An artistic, slow yet passionate film that got seven Oscar nominations and won four of them.

A simple story of an Irish man, his love and his passion shown in gorgeous details.

Kubrick’s craftsmanship as a director is simply extraordinary in this film; each frame looks like a painting.

 

5. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9f6JaaX7Wg

Full metal jacketThis time Kubrick tags the audience with a soldier’s journey- through the training till the actual war in Vietnam where as the poster says ‘the wind doesn’t blow, it sucks’.   

The first half connects us more strongly but the second half is equally important – the film is like an open-ended justification. (if that makes any sense at all).

The music is awesome – a special treat for war-film lovers.

4. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) 

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IE9CmX15PYA

Dr. Strangelove

A cup of fresh, dark, black comedy for you.

Only few filmmakers can take the most serious topic of the season and turn it into something hilarious. Kubrick yet again proves to be the master of it.

George C. Scott is too good in the film but Peter Sellers steals the show by playing three different characters in the film including Dr.Strangelove (as the title goes).

3. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEfyfcEdW4Y

Eyes Wide Shut

The last film of Kubrick – a film that denies to clarify realism from fantasy.

It talks about sexuality in a way completely different from any other so-called sexual films.

The suspense that a single note of piano can create, the exquisite acting capabilities displayed by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman – Kubrick’s ultimate swan song.

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2UWOeBcsJI

2001

According to many this film is Kubrick’s artistically most productive one.

A slow-paced film that tops the Sci-Fi genre (as most of Kubrick’s films tops their individual genre ratings).

Incredible advancements in visual effects (the film got an Oscar in this category), Kubrick not only makes a futuristic film but also enlightens the future of Cinema.

1. The Shining (1980)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S014oGZiSdI

the shining

It’s time to get scared as Kubrick contributes to the horror genre.

The film is interpreted in many different ways but still at the core it is a terrific horror thriller and probably Kubrick’s best creation ever.

Great performances by Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall and the kid who knows how to shine – Danny Lloyd.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most crazy one. A must watch)

+1. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmm5jeeH8mY

Clockwork Orange

Extreme violence, painfully sexual, emotionally draining, often perverse and deeply wicked – according to me this is the ultimate film that Kubrick made in his lifetime.

A crazy film and hat’s off to Malcolm McDowell for such a performance.

Art of film making at it’s best, Kubrick’s disturbing yet entertaining satire will make you uncomfortably satisfied.

Famous quote by Stanley Kubrick.

“How could we possibly appreciate the Mona Lisa if Leonardo had written at the bottom of the canvas: ‘The lady is smiling because she is hiding a secret from her lover.’ This would shackle the viewer to reality, and I don’t want this to happen to 2001″

Blue is the warmest color (2013).

Blue is the warmest color review.

My ratings – 4.6/5

The prime objective to make a film is to entertain the audience but in the process of doing so most of the films/filmmakers loose their sincerity. They desperately attempt to be the viewer’s wish list, too eager to please them and lure them to the cinema halls.

blue-is-the-warmest-color-poster1But fortunately a few films are still made just for the sake of creating good cinema. They have a genuine quality in them, a certain truthfulness that invariably touches the audience – Blue is the warmest color is one such rare gem.

Loosely based on Julie Maroh’s 2010 graphic novel, Blue Angel, the film won the Palme d’Or, the highest honor awarded at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Generally the award is given only to the director of the film but in 2013 (for the first time ever in the history of Cannes Film Festival) as decided by the jury and it’s president Steven Spielberg, the award was given both to the director (Abdellatif Kechiche) as well as to the two lead actresses (Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos).

blue-is-the-warmest-color-poster3This surely gives you a hint regarding the quality of performance you are to witness in this film – watching actors who don’t seem to be acting is always a special treat.

A three-hour package of emotions, a romantic love story taken to a different height with superlative storytelling, awesome direction and absolute brilliant performances.

It’s all about a young girl Adèle, a confused teenager searching for love and eventually ends up exploring her sexuality. The majority of the film deals with Adèle’s relationship with Emma, an erotic lesbian courtship – romantic, intense, sensual and of course stung by infidelity and jealousy.

blue-is-the-warmest-color-poster2Very ‘French’ when it comes to the sexual content; Blue is the warmest color has an overdose of lesbian lovemaking sequences but in the end it all balances out perfectly for the film.

The director Abdellatif Kechiche is not only successful in showing the complexity of finding one’s sexual identity but also he effectively points out the difference in acceptance of homosexuality in different social classes.

For instance Emma’s family who belongs to a higher social status than Adèle’s, freely accepts their same-sex relationship. But on the other hand Emma has to lie to Adèle’s parents by saying that she has a boyfriend just to make their friendship acceptable for the elderly middle class couple.

blue-is-the-warmest-color-posterAs the name suggests the color ‘blue’ is used extensively in the film, often too visually on the face as the blue color of Emma’s hair in the entire first half of the film. May be Emma’s blue hair represented their intensity of love for each other in a symbolic way – as in the second half Emma’s hair color fades out along with their passionate relationship.

According to some people Blue is the warmest color is all about a struggle to find ones sexuality, some say it’s a take on homosexual relations but for me the film is primarily about love. It’s simply about the quest of finding true love and then also going through the pain of loosing it.

Overall a rare so-called perfect film. A must watch.