Entertainment Magazine

Wrapping It Up: October

Posted on the 31 October 2013 by Shantanu Ghumare @u_me_films
Another month, another wrap-up post full of this month's viewings. Did you see I have added one more tab in Menu bar at the top? Features! Even though I don't have any defined schedule for any of my features, I call them semi-regular for a reason, I have been slowly adding entries into them over the past year. I think it is time they get their own space now. I am thinking about starting another feature very soon as well and when I do, you'll be able to see it there too. Please take a look and let me know how it looks. With that, why don't we just get to the wrap up of this month?


Wrapping It Up: OctoberWrapping It Up: OctoberClose-Up(1990): Like everyone else, I have been fascinated with Iranian cinema for a while, especially after Mark Cousins talking extensively about them but I finally got to them very recently. Actual premise of it was surely chief selling point of it but I loved the execution of it as well. Actual people re-enacting their own parts, him filming during the actual trial is all fascinating but what I love the most about it was Kiarostami's camera staying away from making any judgements. It is amazing to see those moments unadulterated.
Sunshine(2007): My favorite Danny Boyle so far and I have seen most of his acclaimed works. That sure means I like Sunshine a lot but it also means that I don't like some of his other 'revered' movies as much. I like the way it takes you right into the action immediately and never leaves from there. I am not sure about the math of those last 19 hours or about the motivation of the antagonist but I loved everything up to that point and I am going to give it a chance again before passing any judgment on the last third.
True Romance(1993): I haven't seen a whole lot of Tony Scott movies but from this has a much more Tarantino vibe to it than anything else. All the violence, swearing and even the overall style of the film definitely is from QT school of film making. I kind of guessed where this this movie will go and it did, right down to the tee but 'How' it reaches there was so much more interesting than 'where'. Just like any of his other films. And what a cast! What A Cast!! There are so many of great actors that pop up, do their part and die but ss good as Slater and Arquette are, they are the ones keeping this movie interesting.
Frankenstein(1931): This month's Halloween special blind spot. I don't think you can do much better than a classic iconic horror movie for Halloween. But after watching it, I also don't think you can do much better than Frankenstein. It is a classic that not only holds up really well but I think is even more relevant today than it was when they made it. And it holds up not only story-wise but even production wise. I was very pleasantly surprised to see how unlike any other film I have seen from that period it was.
State of Play(2009)(Re-watch): I won't go as far as calling this am underrated masterpiece or anything but I do think it is an underrated movie. Even back in 2009 when I first saw it, I felt like being thrown into thick of it from the very first shot. In first half hour, our plate is full with political conspiracies, human drama and multiple other issues is just glosses over and then it goes stagnant for quite some time.When it picks up, however, it does make it worth your time, especially the subtle twists in the last few minutes. Even though in general I do love political thrillers, those last 15-20 minutes reminded me of why I like this one.
Wrapping It Up: OctoberStray Dog(1949): Another one of gems from Kurosawa. This is 17th Kurosawa film I have seen and the more I watch, the more I believe that this guy never made a bad film. Most of his films early in his career that is pre-Rashomon(1950) are probably unknown to us but 5 films I saw from that period, including this one, are as good, if not better than many, as any of his post work. Except for the soldier with PTSD angle, the way Yusa's story unfolds reminds me of classic Bollywood and I mean it in the most admiring way because classic Bollywood produced a lot of meaningful cinema. This would still be one of the best though.
Wrapping It Up: October
The Player(1992): Before going in, all I knew about it was it's filled with Hollywood inside jokes and off course, that glorious opening long shot. Even though that is absolutely true and I loved that, best part of it was it wasn't just content with being a farce on Hollywood. It had such an interesting and strong narrative of it's own that it easily could have done without all that. The end kind of rubbed me in the wrong way but I have to admit, watching who's who pop up out of nowhere was so much fun.
Stoker(2013): Did anyone else find it strange that her name is India? I mean, I wasn't bothered but it was just weird I Guess. It's a typical park film, dark and eerie with cold, whimsical characters. Kept reminding me of his own Thirst(2009) because I was even expecting him to reveal they are vampires at one point. Beautifully shot and sound editing really caught my ear. Wasikowska was great, Goode was very creepy. I was able to forecast quite a bit of it but it still kept me interested. I am not sure why would she go after Sheriff in the end though?
The Changeling(1980): I did not see many but this is one of the horror movies I saw for this month of Halloween. My pull for this movie was to watch George C. Scott in one of his post-Patton(1970) roles but I found more to like here than that. As Steve said in the comments of this post, I love the minimalistic approach of this movie. Not only Horror elements of it are still believable, I like how it takes its time developing the story and even making some sense of it away from them.
The White Ribbon(2009): In a typical Haneke fashion, I know that I have seen this movie now but I am not sure if I have understood it. The note on which it ends kind of left me with a feeling that few strange things did happen but what's the big deal? since (Possible Spoiler!) nobody ever knew what actually happened or who did it? It sort of feels like cheating but knowing Haneke, that might be the exact thing he was going for. You never know! It sure kept me into it for whole two and half hours though.
Wrapping It Up: OctoberWinter Light(1962): Second of the Bergman's Silence Trilogy. I think you have to be in a certain mindset to sit down and watch his films. I wasn't but I still had a very typical Bergman reaction to it. In a way that I did like in parts but I don't think I have understood it enough or could relate to most of it enough to actually pass any definitive judgements about it. It is still a mystery to me. All I can say is it definitely isn't one of his more accessible films and I definitely like the first one, Through a Glass Darkly(1961), better.
Wrapping It Up: October
All the King's Men(1949): There is absolutely nothing I can fault this film for actually. It had a decent script, Crawford, McCambridge and even Joanne Dru were really good in their roles and it held its banners high almost throughout. It's just that I've seen too many films that follow the same trajectory for any character to make me care for them any more and it followed that trajectory point by point. My only real disappointment was John Ireland who was so stoic, he reminded me of Tobey McGuire and that is never a good thing.
Bringing Up Baby(1938): I don't like slapsticks. I know this is not any slapstick but 'the' slapstick film but believe me, this is best I can do. Because of Katherine Hepburn, I was warming up to it a bit. I don't think it is coincidental that only two slapstick movies I can stand star her. If not for that police station sequence in the end, I might have rated it little higher but that brought me back to my usual reaction while watching them: repeating 'Why the hell are they doing this?' through my teeth while stomping my feet and clenching my fists. 
The Ice Storm(1997): After going through a bit of good streak, this is second Ang Lee movie in a row that has left me kind of underwhelmed. The adult drama and their issues of infidelity made quite sense and I think I would've liked it more if it was just about that. But I wasn't sold on any of the kid's storylines. I am not even sure about why was it set in 1973 as except for the couple of Nixon references, which it could have done without, I don't think there was anything specific to the time period. If there was, it went completely unnoticed by me.
Wrapping It Up: OctoberA Man for All Seasons(1966): I have absolutely no idea what to say about this movie. This is my 64th Best Picture Winner of 86 so far and there certainly have been worse films than this one to win that award. There are a couple of good preformances and script mostly concentrates on the issue at hand but this film is so vapid that I am finding it difficult to accept this as the best of the year despite knowing very well that Oscar is far from being synonymous with best. You better get used to that because I have a feeling at least 12 of remaining 22 will also fall in line.
Mission: Impossible III(2006)(Re-watch): It is certainly not MI-1 or even 4 but it is not 2 either. What an epiphany, right? Well the thing is until I am watching one of first 3 MI movies, they all blend into each other for me. When I catch them somewhere, I remember them vividly enough. I can distinguish the fourth because it is latest and I still remember watching it in the theater. In the not-so-vivid moments, this is the one with Philip Seymour Hoffman in Vatican. That's it!
A Passage to India(1984): I feel bad about talking down the last film of one of the Great directors but this film probably commits the biggest crime any film can - it lacks any ambition. I heard someone describe David Lean's last film as a drawing on a vast canvas with tiny strokes and that might be the best way to describe it. In its setting, in scope it has potential to be that epic Lean knows how to deliver but it's story, characters and even it's execution continually fails it. I don't think there are many films I feel so apathetic about every character in it.
Wrapping It Up: October
The Peacemakers(1997): Pretty standard, run of the mill political action thriller. It is so run-of-the-mill that I probably shouldn't even use the word thriller about it. What's so thrilling about the routine, right? It is so run-of the mill that it didn't need talented people like Nicole Kidman and George Clooney even though it was before they became George Clooney and Nicole Kidman. And the worst thing is they didn't even look at each other romantically. What's use of having two of the most beautiful and handsome people on earth in a film and doing nothing? That's a wastin'!
Snakes on a Plane(2006): The shit you watch on TV! But I will be perfectly honest here. It was way better than I expected. Off course, I expected it to be some kind of horror B-movie shitfest. So topping it wasn't that difficult but I have to give the credit, however little, where it is due. As ridiculous it sounds from outside, oh! it is ridiculous in many aspects, it had few genuine moments in it. What else do you want? It IS a B-grade thriller with Samuel Jackson after all.
Wrapping It Up: OctoberSuspiria(1977): Every so often, you wait to watch certain classic for a log time and when you get to them, you never understand what it made it such a classic? Well, I certainly 'understand' what made Suspiria such a classic. I just don't think it is deserving of such a title. There are multiple problems with the story, acting is too loud, direction takes it on the path that I don't really care about. Sure it 'Looks' pretty and incessant soundtrack does something but I don't think that makes for a classic.
2 Fast 2 Furious(2003): Yup. Never seen it before. I might be rating it just 2 and 1/2 stars, which is actually quite low by my standards but I quite enjoyed it. Real trick, once again, is not expecting anything. I wasn't expecting story to make any sense or even to exist, for any characters to root for or developing some sort of structure or anything really. I knew it would dumb, fun, action movie and it was just that. What can I complain about then?
Total Count: 21. 19 First Time Watches and 2 Re-watches .
2013 YTD CountTotal Count: 218. 199 First Time Watches and 19 Re-watches.
It wasn't as happening month of Halloween as last year but I did manage to watch some horror films, including the Blind Spot entry. Apart from that, there is Diwali coming up next week and right after Diwali, I am starting a new job. I don't know if it will affect my blogging in any way yet. I don't think it will drastically, at least immediately, but I will keep you posted as even I just will have to wait and see.
So, how was your month? Did you see anything interesting? What do you think of the movies I saw? Any favorites?

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