Into the Woods (2014)

My Ratings: 2/5.

With three Oscar nominations Into the Woods is probably the most popular fantasy musical drama of this year.

into-the-woods-poster2Directed by Rob Marshall who seems to be a specialist in musicals as he made Chicago (2002) and Nine (2009) in the past; but this time though he fails to leave a mark of that extent.

Into the Woods starts with great anticipation; a certain hope for a unique story, brilliant music and some superb acting performances. But instead the film takes a path too lengthy and unnecessarily complex and soon becomes boring.

Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, the Wolf, Rapunzel, Magic beans and the Witch – different fairy tale characters connected and linked in the story but unfortunately not used wisely enough. They are all mixed up, comes in and goes haphazardly as if unsure of their own motives in the film.

into-the-woods-posterFrom the start it seems like a children-movie but somewhere along the line the film looses it’s target audience and tries to punch-in heavy dozes of romance and drama (totally unnecessary).

An array of powerful actors Meryl StreepEmily BluntAnna KendrickTracey UllmanJames CordenChris Pine and even Johnny Depp for a short mischievous role.

Neither scripted nor edited to it’s maximum potential; an innovative concept that could have been a great film.

Do think twice before you venture Into the Woods, you may get lost (both literally and metaphorically).

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

My Ratings: 1.5/5.

Written by E. L. James, an erotic fiction Fifty Shades of Grey and it’s two sequels have sold over 100 million copies worldwide and been translated into 52 languages – one of the best selling trilogy ever!

Fifty-shades-of-grey-poster6Unfortunately i missed out the experience of reading this unique novel but i was keen to watch the much hyped film based on the book (by the same name) produced by Universal Pictures and Focus Features.

And after watching the film my first reaction was ‘thank God i didn’t waste my time on the book in the first place’.

Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson Fifty shades of grey is a love story based on the ideas of a sadomasochistic relationship.

A twisted billionaire Mr.Grey (Jamie Dornan) who falls for an innocent romantic virgin Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and eventually teaches her the rules of bondage and discipline, the secrets of sexual role-play involving dominance and submission, sadism and masochism.

But sadly enough the film failed to spank me the right way and thus there was absolutely no pleasure in the pain of watching it.

Fifty-shades-of-grey-poster5Twisted sex but no twists in the storyline, stupid casting, ordinary acting performances and a few oddly edited sex scenes combined with heavy dozes of trying-to-create-a-sensual-mood kinda music.

The film is a mixed breed of soft-porn and regular romantic drama which ultimately doesn’t qualify for neither of the genres.

But importantly, ignoring a few dumb critics (including me) the film Fifty Shades of Grey is a huge commercial success grossing over 500 million worldwide, it is currently the highest-grossing film of 2015

Though I won’t suggest this film to anyone but the box office records prove that the recommendations of critics hardly make any difference in this case.

We Are The Best (2013)

My Ratings: 4.1/5.

We Are the Best! (original title “Vi är bäst!”) is the most fun film i have seen in the recent times.

we-are-the-best-poster1In the mid 70s the extreme spiky haircuts, the piercings, the colorful costumes along with the famous Punk music was at it’s peak but by the early 80s (when the film is set) people have moved on to alternative New wave music and the common belief was that Punk was dead.

And so it’s upto the three brave young girls Bobo, Clara and Hedvig to prove everyone wrong.

The three rebels who dares to be different from the rest of the world (and naturally social outcasts since they don’t have any friends other than themselves) decides to form a Punk Rock band.

A simple story told with such genuineness and conviction.

We are the best perfectly captures the spirit and enthusiasm of the youth, the fun and innocence of believing in i-can-be-whoever-i-want-to-be and the often hilarious internal chemistry between the girls.

we-are-the-best-poster2The film also (very subtly and intelligently) portrays the emotional pain a child has to endure for being different from the crowd.

Flawless acting performances by the youngsters Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne. Their dialogues and expressions are unbelievably natural.

Screenplay and direction by Lukas Moodysson, the film is said to be based on Coco Moodysson‘s comic book illustrations (the director’s wife).

Superb camera work by Ulf Brantås and awesome music by Rasmus Thord (since music plays an important role in this film).

This Swedish film is a remarkable comedy full of music, laughter and positive energy.

We are the best – a definite recommendation.

Best Japanese Horror Films of all times (10+1list)

Best Japanese Horror Films of all times

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Japan has long been a major contributor to the Horror genre and it will be a never ending list of Best Japanese Horror Films of all times!

The subtle movements of the white curtains, the rustle of the wind in the dark, sudden ringing of the phone, a thin beam of torch light illuminating a shadowy figure; be it the eerie natural outdoors or the uncomfortable corners of your rooms – these Japanese horror films explores every possibility to scare you out of your wits.

Most of these Japanese Horror Films are remade in Hollywood and in many other languages but for me the originals are always the best bet.

So let’s get ready for some scream!

10. The Grudge (2002)

film trailer:


Original title “Ju-on”

Directed by Takashi Shimizu who also directed the american version of the same The Grudge (2004), the film succeeded in scaring people all around the world. 

Endless number of sequels and remakes, this film is one of the most successful Japanese Horror Films. And probably the most scary one too.

9. Kwaidan (1964)

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Original title “Kaidan”.

A classic collection of Japanese folk tales – the film consists of four separate and unrelated stories based on supernatural elements.

Directed by Masaki Kobayashi – the most popular Japanese Horror film winning the ‘Special jury prize’ at 1965 Cannes Film Festival and also an Academy Award nomination.

8. Ring (1998)

film trailer:


Original title “Ringu”

Don’t you dare watch it because if you cannot solve the mystery of this mysterious video – you are dead.

Directed by Hideo Nakata this film has bunch of sequels and remakes but none of them scares you as much as this one.  

I guess the poster says it all!

7. Infection (2004)

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Original title “Kansen”

One error made by a doctor in the hospital sets forth a chain of incidents with disastrous consequences and also there is this weird infection that needs to be checked before it begins to spread.

Directed by Masayuki Ochiai this one is a slow and creepy film that surely gets to your nerves. Suspense and horror at it’s best.

6. Noroi: The curse (2005)

film trailer:

japanese-horror-filmsOriginal title “Noroi”

Directed by Kôji Shiraishi, made entirely in documentary style this film gives the most real feel of horror.

A film maker trying to track down a series of paranormal activities eventually discovers something too dangerous to handle.

Creepy and disturbing.

5. Onibaba (1964)

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A classic by it’s own right, the film is a historical horror drama directed by Kaneto Shindô.

The story of two women in the business of killing samurais and selling their stuff for food; the film has some of the most eerie surroundings and a deadly looking mask. 

Probably the most disturbing film in this list.

4. Pulse (2001)

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Original title “Kairo”

Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa the film was screened at 2001 Cannes Film Festival and was critically appreciated.

A promise to interact with the dead, Japanese university students commit suicides linked with some internet Web cam mystery.

Also remade in Hollywood.

3. Dark Water (2002)

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Original title “Honogurai mizu no soko kara”

Directed by Hideo Nakata, it’s the story of a mother-daughter duo who moves into an apartment that has a mysterious water leakage. 

One of the scariest and most popular Japanese Horror Film. Director Walter Salles remade it in 2005 by the same name.

2. Kuroneko (1968)

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Original title “Yabu no naka no kuroneko”.

Two women who were raped and killed by a bunch of samurai soldiers decide to seek revenge.

They turn into ghosts (ghostly black cats) and start seducing and murdering samurais.

A japanese classic directed by Kaneto Shindô.

1. One Missed Call (2003)

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Original title “Chakushin Ari”

Mobile phones can lead to Violent deaths (even if you are not using them while driving) and this film takes this unique concept to a different level.

Directed by Takashi Miike, this voice-message killer film was remade in Hollywood – One Missed Call in 2008. But again the original one is much more scary. 

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

+ 1. House (1977)

film trailer:


Original title “Hausu”

Directed by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi this is one of the most weird Japanese Horror films with a huge cult following.

A group of seven school girls on vacation and a house with an appetite!

Watch it to believe, it will alter your perception of horror films forever.

Similar Interest: Horror Anthology films

Similar Interest: Best Horror Comedies

Similar Interest: Best Horror Films of recent times

Similar Interest: Best Asian Horror Films

Similar Interest: Best Japanese weird films

Poster courtesy:

Nh10 (2015)

My Ratings: 3/5.

After a brilliant debut with Manorama Six Feet Under  in 2007, now after eight years director Navdeep Singh is back with his second venture Nh10.
NH10-poster2No doubt a hard-hitting film, Nh10 contains graphic violent scenes and doesn’t hesitate to portray the raw, brutal face of rural India.

Leaving behind the sophisticated Delhi environment, Arjun (Neil Bhoopalam) and Meera (Anushka Sharma) drives through Nh10 highway – a romantic gate away in order to celebrate Meera’s birthday.

But as they were passing through Haryana they witnessed some rowdy villagers abducting a young couple and soon enough Arjun and Meera gets sucked into a whirlpool of gruesome violence and there begins a brutal cat and mouse game that promises deadly consequences.

These blood thirsty group of villagers leaded by Darshan Kumaar (of Mary Kom fame) would stop at nothing to retain their so-called honor. 

The issue of ‘honor killing’ in the backdrop, Nh10 not only creates edgy and tensed moments of panic but also manages to showcase the backward mentality of people in the interior villages of India.

nh10-poster1Powerful performance by Anushka Sharma, she also happens to be one of the producers of Nh10!

And Deepti Naval as Ammaji deserves a special mention as well.

Decent cinematography by Arvind Kannabiran and cool editing by Jabeen Merchant.

A few illogical plot points in the story line but overall Nh10 is a very real, fast-paced film.

If you have an inclination for hand-to-hand brutal violence (preferred weapon – iron rods) or if revengeful feminist heroines make you feel good,  then probably you will like Nh10 a lot.

P.S. Did anybody else notice any similarity between Nh10 and a film called Eden Lake (2008)?

Best of Hollywood 2014

Best of Hollywood 2014 

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Best of Hollywood 2014 – is not at all an easy list to make. 2014 being an awesome year for film-lovers and thanks to Hollywood for giving us such a balanced dose of entertainment; Thrillers, Hollywood-2014SciFis, Comedies, Love stories War Dramas, Horror flicks and lots of Biographies.

But then again, it’s the time to remember the best performances of this year (no foreign language films included in this list), the awesome directorial ventures, those brilliant visuals and mesmerizing background scores – the films that touched your heart, amazed you and made you fall in love with Cinema (all over again).

But first a few honorable mentions (films that almost made the list) – WildInherent ViceThe Hundred-Foot JourneyPrideAmerican SniperCalvaryStill AliceCamp X-RayPredestinationKill the MessengerCake and Mr. Turner

And now the countdown begins.

10. Selma

film trailer:


It was 1965 and Martin Luther King leaded the epic march from Selma to Montgomery (Alabama), a nonviolent protest demanding for the right-to-vote for all black men and women in the country.

(Click for the film review)

Such a powerful film evidently backed by some outstanding performances. A must watch.

9. Gone Girl

film trailer:


Gone Girl is fast paced film that demands your full attention, a superbly crafted thriller that plunges into the depths of a psychologically twisted marital relationship.

(Click for the film review)

Brilliant performance by Ben Affleck but the real stunner is Rosamund Pike; she proves to be the perfect cast possible for the ‘gone girl’ character.

Hollywood-2014A dangerously realistic, gritty tale based on the concept of our unconscious satisfaction in watching other people’s loss and tragedy. Thanks to the news channels.

(Click for the film review)

Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) – is he a scavenger or a survivor, a psychopath or a potential businessman, a cold-hearted predator or an insane professional?

7. The Grand Budapest Hotel

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The Grand Budapest Hotel is the most stylish comedy I have seen in years.

(Click for the film review)

Wes Anderson’s obsession for perfect production design, bold color schemes, faultless framing and as always the cheeky humor brings out an unique creation. Simply wonderful to watch, probably his best work till date.

6. Interstellar

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A Sci-Fi starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathway and Jessica Chastain, Interstellar is a film about space and black holes, about dimensions and relativity; and then again it’s also about love and betrayal.

(Click for the film review)

By the acclaimed director Christopher Nolan and undoubtedly one of his best films ever.

5. The Theory of Everything

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The Theory of Everything tells the emotional story of Stephen Hawking and his then wife Jane Wilde.

(Click for the film review)

Eddie Redmayne this year won the Oscar (in the Best Actor category) playing Stephen Hawking’s character with extraordinary authenticity and brilliance. A must watch.

4. Foxcatcher

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Foxcatcher is a film that tells the tale of two troubled souls, a multimillionaire and a wrestler, both disturbed and consumed by their own ambition and distorted personal lives.

(Click for the film review)

The film doesn’t fit the mainstream, melodramatic sport-movie pattern but after watching i am sure you will be thankful it didn’t.

3. Whiplash

film trailer:


The intense story of Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller), a 19-year-old aspiring jazz drummer and Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), his brutal school music instructor.

(Click for the film review)

Whiplash is a gritty and uncompromising take on ambition and success – it stretches the boundaries of all previous student-mentor relationship based dramas.

2. Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

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Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and this year’s Oscar winner.

(Click for the film review)

Michael KeatonEdward NortonNaomi WattsZach GalifianakisEmma Stone and all others are magical in front of the camera.

The whole film is edited to look like one continuous shot, a tremendous effort and brilliantly executed.

1. Boyhood

film trailer:

Hollywood 2014

A film so real and shot through such an unreal time-span that it gives you the feel of being a part of the journey with this boy Mason (Ellar Coltrane), who was 7 years old when Richard Linklater started filming and 18 when he finally felt it’s time to wrap up.

(Click for the film review)

Boyhood is something very special, a daring experiment and totally worth it.

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

+1. The Imitation Game

film trailer:

Hollywood 2014

Based on the life of an unsung war-hero, a genius mathematician and a troubled soul who never got the recognition he deserved – Alan Turing.

(Click for the film review)

Brilliant performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley The imitation game is one of the best biographies made last year – a perfect combination of history and good cinema.

Poster courtesy:

Omar (2013)

My Ratings: 3.8/5.

Omar was been selected as the Palestinian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at last year’s Oscars and it did confirm it’s place among the top five nominees.

In fact Omar is the second film from Palestine to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film; the first one being Paradise Now in 2005. And it cannot be a coincidence that both these films are directed by Hany Abu-Assad.

Omar-poster4The film is placed in the heart of the Israel versus Palestine controversy but fortunately it’s not only about the Jew-Arab political conflict and related militant violence – it’s also a story of love, friendship and sacrifice.

The Palestinian protagonist Omar (Adam Bakri) living in the West Bank had a relatively simple life as he worked in a bakery and loved a girl named Nadia (Leem Lubany) whom he wanted to marry soon.

But then he along with his two close friends Tarek (Iyad Hoorani) and Amjad (Samer Bisharat), who considered themselves as freedom fighters, organized a sniper attack on an Israeli Military post and since that night Omar‘s life took a dangerous route.

Repeatedly tortured by the Israeli police and suspected as a traitor by his own friends Omar desperately tries to hold on to his roots; he is beaten and bruised but he never looses his hope.

omar-posterThe tall separation wall running through the occupied Palestine which Omar had to climb each time he wanted to visit his lover Nadia, is a constant reminder of the agonizing political scenario – a barrier forcibly imposed and ordained over the innocent population.  

Director Hany Abu-Assad manages to impartially summarize the terrors faced by both the Israelis and the Palestinians; a riveting political thriller perfectly blended with a love story.

Omar is a film that knits a complex web of love and hatred, loyalty and betrayal, fear and bravery, ideological differences and paranoia. 

Highly recommended for the film-lovers across the world.

Tangerines (2013)

Tangerines review.

My Ratings: 4/5.

War has always been the cause for destruction, be it human lives or the season’s crop – the Tangerines.

The story takes place during the War in Abkhazia (it was in 1990, the time when Abkhazia is trying to get separated from Georgia); and while most people fled from the war-affected villages, a couple of men from Estonia stayed back to harvest the tangerines.

The old man Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak) who makes boxes for tangerines and his friend Margus (Elmo Nüganen) who plucks the fruit and parcels it.

Ivo, a man with a kind heart gives shelter to two injured soldiers, a Chechen mercenary named Ahemd (Giorgi Nakashidze) and the other from the opposite camp – a Georgian soldier Niko (Misha Meskhi).

Tangerine-posterThough both these men were indebted to Ivo for saving their lives but they also desperately wanted to kill each other; but of course not under the roof of their savior (as they promised to Ivo they wouldn’t).

An intense drama unfolds; a tension of violence in the air with a light comic touch – a war film (or more of an anti-war film) which shows the minimum amount of actual violence/war but still manages to engage the audience.

With a dramatic and unpredictable ending and superb performances this film not only portrays the devastation of the civilians in a war zone but also questions the necessity of war in general.

A film with a remarkably strong message.

Directed by Zaza Urushadze Tangerines (original title Mandariinid) was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film in the Oscars as well as in the Golden Globes.

A superbly shot film with a brilliant story of human relations tested in the tough times of the war.

Selma (2014)

My Ratings: 4.2/5.

The Imitation GameWild, American Sniper, Mr.TurnerBig EyesFoxcatcherUnbrokenThe Theory Of Every ThingFuryKill The Messenger – and among these never-ending list of biographies produced in 2014, Selma turns out to be the one with the most impact.

selma-poster1The film Selma vividly depicts the unfortunate times when equality and respect in the society depended on one’s race and color.

Presently with a Black President behind the desk it is hard for us to imagine the amount of sacrifice and torment the Black community of United States went through in the past, the sacrifice they had to make just to claim their basic rights as a citizen.

But then again, it was the time to change the course of history forever.

It was 1965 and Martin Luther King leaded the epic march from Selma to Montgomery (Alabama), a nonviolent protest demanding for the right-to-vote for all black men and women in the country.

While under the orders of George Wallace (the then Governor of Alabama) countless innocent men and women (of all ages) were harassed, brutally beaten and even murdered but that didn’t stop Martin Luther King from keep demanding his rights (peacefully though).   

selma-posterPresident Lyndon Johnson finally had to give in and it was victory – a victory of both equality and humanity. 

The film Selma directed by Ava DuVernay brilliantly manages to portray the emotions and sentiments of the people who fought  for what they believed was right.

And such a powerful film is evidently backed by some outstanding performances – David Oyelowo (as King, he is simply brilliant), Carmen EjogoOprah WinfreyTom WilkinsonGiovanni RibisiTim Roth and others.

Selma with four Golden Globe Award nominations (won for Best Original Song) was also nominated for Best Picture and won Best Original Song at the Oscars this year.

A film that will undoubtedly touch your heart. Watch it.

Pride (2014)

My Ratings: 4/5.

Pride is not only an unique story told but it’s also a true one.

Establishing a political background during the times of Margaret Thatcher the film Pride revolves around the British miners’ strike in 1984 and how a group of Lesbian and Gay activists wholeheartedly supported the families of the jobless miners. 

pride-poster2The miners and the LGBT activists, both were fighting for their voice, their respect and their identity.

And so they managed to join hands and stand side by side, help each other (both emotionally and financially as well).

Pride is about accepting ‘who you really are’ and also about recognizing and embracing your true friends ‘whoever they are’.

Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton leads the way as Dominic WestJessica GunningPaddy ConsidineBen SchnetzerGeorge MacKay – basically everybody out there have given there best.

pride-poster4Superb casting, thanks to Fiona Weir.

Directed by Matthew Warchus Pride is a film of human connection and trust, it’s about self belief and respect as an individual as well as a community. 

Nominated and won in several award functions including Golden Globes and BAFTA, it’s also won the Queer Palm award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Overall Pride is a perfectly well-executed drama dipped in blissful British humour. Enjoy.