The Shawshank Redemption - A Testament To The Human Spirit

                               Movies are the greatest thing in the world. I love how they can make you feel good in all sorts of way. Some make you laugh, some make you think, some thrill you, some make you think, some impress you... And then there's these very rare pictures that go beyond all this, that come and touch you so deeply that you'll never be quite the same. Movies that make you want to live fully, that make you believe that it's all worth it. The Shawshank Redemption is one of these films that you can't just love but cherish. Shawshank Redemption has been reviewed so many times, but films like these are the inspiration for me or any movie buffs to write about movies. Even though this review, might not capture the feel of the movie, I'd just like to try. 

                                The film concerns itself with a twenty-year friendship between Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a banker sentenced to life for the murder of his wife and her lover, and Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), a con who has already been imprisoned for two decades when Dufresne arrives on the scene in 1947. The script charts Andy’s attempts to build a new life on the inside, his refusal to lose faith contrasting with Redding’s weary resignation, and works its way to a bittersweet finale with a source of satisfaction.

                             In 1982, Stephen King  wrote a novella(short novel) entitled Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. It was (and still is) one of his few mainstream efforts, bereft of supernatural occurrences and graphic murders. In 1987 a filmmaker by the name of Frank Darabont wrote to King and requested an option over the novella. Darabont proved himself a master of the art of adaptation. He had taken liberties to improve its translation to a visual medium. He changed characters (Red was a white Irishman in the novella), scenes (the ending is extended past King’s inconclusive finale) and dialogues (many of the best lines in the film are Darabont’s). 

                           It would have all been for nothing, however, without the universally exceptional efforts of the cast. As written, Red spends his time observing Andy fondly and describing prison life. But Mr. Freeman's commanding presence makes him a much stronger figure than that. The sheer charisma of the man is all-but overpowering, an image heightened by Darabont’s decision to utilize voice-overs to advance the narrative.

                          Central to the film's success is a riveting, unfussy performance from Robbins. Mr. Robbins plays it intensely, and he ages effectively from newcomer to father figure during the story.  James Whitmore's, Brooks is a brilliantly realized character, and the scenes with him attempting to cope with life outside of Shawshank represents one of the film's most moving - and effective - sequences.

                      The Shawshank Redemption is definitively not the usual, exploitative prison movie. There are some rough, unsettling moments, and we learn that the warden and his guards can be as crooked as the cons, but the movie is really about the human spirit. It uses the hard, disheartening world of prison to show that even in such an environment, life can bloom. There is a difference between living and simply existing, a difference many of the prison inmates eventually lose sight of, and it may just get you thinking about your life, and the fact that not all walls can be seen with the naked eye. Mostly, though, it reminds us of that we all hold the keys to our own prisons.

                     Shawshank Redemption might have flopped in the box-office, but it is the most divine movie experience you will find in this world. When the closing credits roll you will feel renewed, and hear these words in your mind:

“Get busy living, or get busy dying”. 
"Fear can hold you prisoner........ Hope can set you free."
"Hope is a good thing, may be the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

Shawshank Redemption - Imdb                     

Legendary Actress : Meryl Streep

                                Meryl Streep is said to be the greatest living actress in Hollywood today by the film fraternity and the viewers. She has portrayed an astonishing array of roles in a career that has cut its own unique path from the theater through film and television. She received her long-awaited third Oscar for Iron Lady in the 84th Academy Awards, and also has a record breaking 17 Oscar nominations. Her on-screen prowess is considerable; her ability to elicit emotional responses from the audience is uncanny. Streep's variable career has allowed her to form a varied and salient relationship to American culture by taking on roles that reflects the issues of the day. She excels in adaptability , often taking on roles that have defined the realm of woman's issues.
  • Born Mary Louise Streep on June 22, 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, to pharmaceutical company executive Harry Streep and commercial artist Mary Streep. Meryl describes herself at age seven as already looking like a forty year old and acting like one too! She got her first applause by age twelve when she sang “O Holy Night” in French in her school’s Christmas concert. She was so good, in fact, that she stunned her family and classmates and others urged her parents to get her singing lessons.
  • Streep had never acted in a drama before her sophomore year (second year under-graduate). An honors exchange program led to Dartmouth where she studied play-writing as well as set and costume design. After graduating , she won a scholarship to the Yale School of Drama where she received a Master of Fine Arts degree. Then, in New York City, she made both Broadway and off-Broadway appearances, and was honored with two Theater World Awards. 
  • Streep began her feature film  in Julia, directed by Fred Zinneman. In her second screen role, Streep starred opposite Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken in The Deer Hunter, receiving her first Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a working-class Pennsylvania girl who's lonely, small-town life is irrevocably altered by the Vietnam War.
  • She performed the stage plays at night, and during the day alternated filming Manhattan for Woody Allen and Kramer vs. Kramer with Dustin Hoffman. As Hoffman's troubled ex-wife in a custody battle, she garnered her first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
  • A perfectionist in her craft and meticulous and painstaking in her preparation for her roles, Meryl turned out a string of highly acclaimed performances over the next 10 years in great films like Silkwood (1983); Out of Africa (1985); Ironweed (1987); and Evil Angels (1988). Her career declined slightly in the early 1990s as a result of her inability to find suitable parts, but she shot back to the top in 1995 with her performance as Clint Eastwood's married lover in The Bridges of Madison County (1995).
  • Trade Mark : Known for being a perfectionist when preparing for roles. Known for her ability to master almost any accent. She frequently plays real-life characters.
  • Before making it big, she was a waitress at The Hotel Somerset in Somerville, New Jersey, USA.
  • In 2007, she ranked #6 on Entertainment Weekly's 'The 50 Smartest People in Hollywood'. Premiere Magazine ranked her as #46 on a list of the Greatest Movie Stars of All Time in their Stars in Our Constellation feature. She was voted the 37th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly. Ranked #24 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.
  • Her performance as "Karen Silkwood" in Silkwood (1983) is ranked #71 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time. Her performance as "Sophie Zawistowska" in Sophie's Choice (1982) is ranked #3 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time. 
 Meryl Streep Quotes :

"But ... in my own experience of male and female directors, people have a much, much harder time taking a direct command from a woman. It's somehow very difficult for people."

"Hello? How did this happen? I was only the sixth woman to receive it, but they found 26 men to give it to. I thought that was embarrassing." [on her Lifetime Achievement Award from the AFI] 

"Let's face it, we were all once 3-year-olds who stood in the middle of the living room and everybody thought we were so adorable. Only some of us grow up and get paid for it." 

" When I was 20 I made music in public park to afford accommodation. One night I hadn't earned enough, I actually slept in the open in Green Park [in London]. The view was of the Ritz Hotel and I vowed I'd stay there one day. And I have.

                                                 It is with some trepidation that I have written about Meryl Streep.  After all, how does one write a brief summary of the world’s best female actress? One can understand much about a person’s soul by their actions and words.  Meryl’s quotes and actions tell of a women who places family high on her list of precious things, a person who strongly supports a woman’s right to freedom, equality, safety and opportunity. Thank you Meryl for portraying a depth of humanity that is unparalleled in its artistic perfection as well as in its keen regard for women’s challenges, rights and freedoms. 

         Whatever the future will hold for Meryl, moviegoers can be sure that it will be just as stunning as her work in the past has been.

Meryl Streep Oscar acceptance for Iron Lady

Meryl Streep - Wikipedia 

Martial Arts In Movies

                                   Action is an easy concept to understand, and it holds the attention as long as it's on screen. One doesn't watch a action movie to grasp some deeper meaning ; the motive is enjoyment, not spiritual enlightenment. When this attitude is taken towards the martial arts films, "Hong Kong", as a place and culture became as a style, devoid of  foreignness for the viewers. For people who know and follow this art, it's not just a defensive technique, it's a way of life which makes you a better and strong person. These films are one of the purest genre of action movies. This genre has inspired many boys and girls to take up martial arts as a hobby and making it a global phenomenon.

The Beginning
             The first martial arts films out of China did not feature authentic martial arts. It involved artificial elements  usually with supernatural abilities such as sword sorcerers, palm powers, and flying. Martial arts films discarded the more stage-driven elements of the earlier films and replacing them with authentic martial arts forms, weapons, and styles, also secured the role of the martial arts instructor as an invaluable member of the production team. 

American Impact
           Movies have always been an influence on American culture. Martial arts in particular have has an effect on American culture, which in turn has contributed greatly to how we view martial arts in general. Even the language are different, the ideas behind the films may be a lot more familiar than one might realize. The format relies less on literary devices and more on non-stop action. 

                       The 1960's were the golden era of the Hong Kong studios , but distribution was limited to Asian countries. This all changed when Bruce Lee came onto the screen. He had something that others at the time didn't : a personality and charisma that translated well to the screen. Many of his contemporaries at the time were excellent martial artists, but they did not present a compelling persona outside of their skills. Not only did he present a realistic view of how martial arts are done , but defined a whole genre. 

Martial Arts In Japan
                Japanese martial arts films are a direct contrast to the Hong Kong style. The Japanese samurai film brings not only sword fighting and action , but "philosophy, and complex states of mind. Because of the many underlying metaphors, such as falling cherry blossoms symbolizing the suddenness of death , may be instantly recognizable to Japanese audience, but are less than obvious to others. Therefore, it may be no surprise that the samurai film is set slightly more to the side in the public eye than the Hong Kong martial arts movies. That is not to say, however, that these films have not made an impact. 

                                       When martial arts were introduced to movies, they didn't just make people want to be superhuman and sign-up for classes ; they revolutionized the concept of fighting. For instance, until the 1970's fights were fought with the hands. If one used their feet , then they were considered a crybaby. Now, if one just started swinging they would look clumsy and lacking in skill (not including boxing). The full body is used to fight, and the victor uses theirs more efficiently. 

                                    For audiences, violence has always been a part of children film and television programming. Nowadays , with the inclusion of martial arts and a little comedy films such as Kung-Fu Panda , showcase actual fighting to younger viewers. Another example is the movie Karate-Kid. A classic tale of the underdog rising above his enemies.

                              In today's movies, we see some of our favorite actors being given pre-production training in martial arts and the type of choreography that you would only ever have seen used with someone like Jackie Chan or Jet Li in the past. But movies now rely so much on special effects and very little martial artists. That's what the movies are missing these days. Though there are few hopeful movies like 'Ip Man.'

                           Mega trendsetters like Matrix series has directly contributed to the entire video game industry, because of martial arts. All of this would not have been possible , if a few people in the begining, had not given the world , a taste of how martial arts can really be. Finally, I'd like to conclude with a quote from Bruce Lee:

"The martial arts are ultimately self-knowledge. A punch or a kick is not to knock the hell out of the guy in front, but to knock the hell out of your ego, your fear, or your hang-ups."

Trust - Hazards of The Internet Age

                                 For most of us, the biggest threat the internet poses is that it's as easy to click on wrong information as it is the right stuff. But for innocent adolescents and teens trying to discover who they are, a chat room is like a best friend. Some of those poses as much of a risk as walking alone through an alley at night.
                                              This film 'Trust' talks about the inevitability of not being able to protect your loved ones. The agony that parents go through when they have failed in keeping their children safe and protected. It is a very good movie that few will see, because it deals with a subject that makes people squirm. What's more, this subject is dealt in a effective way, which will depress , disturb, and haunt the viewer for days. Yet for those , who can take this as a relevant message for today's society, Trust is a special movie experience.

       Annie (Liana Liberato) is a typical 14-year old sub-urban girl in Chicago. Reading her instant-message conversations on-screen, the viewer is clued in to a secret life that her parents (Clive Owen and Catherine Keener) barely suspect—an ongoing, increasingly intimate correspondence with a boy in California. Annie thinks she has struck up an Internet friendship with a boy her own age. They chat around the clock, and the boy reveals that, in fact, he is 20. Later, "Charlie" confesses to being 25. Then he announces that he is coming to Chicago, and when she goes to meet him at the mall, she finds a 40-year-old man with a sickening smile and a smooth line of talk about how age doesn't matter.
                               She is shocked to the point of tears. But this seasoned pedophile manages to stop her crying and convince her to come with him to a motel room. Anne's father who, upon finding out that his daughter has been taken advantage of by a  scum, starts becoming disturbed. He wants to find the guy and kill him. The  case also draws in the FBI. The rest of the movie is about the specific consequences of this particular crime, how it affects relationships, self-image and the family structure.

            Director David Schwimmer of "Friends" fame, aims for realistic depiction rather than the typical Hollywood thriller format that this could have turned into, especially after FBI agents get involved. His direction elicits our deep feelings and fears about the dangerous use of the Internet by pedophiles and the devastating impact their sexual assaults on children can have upon the victim's family. Clive Owen gives a standout performance as Will. He starts the movie as a loving, outgoing husband and father, then becomes angry and helpless. One of the excellent scene is towards the end, when  Clive Owen, breaks down saying that he has failed in protecting his child. Catherine Keener lends sympathetic support as the mother. Liberato as Annie, handles the wide range of emotions her part demands, as well as the transition from happy-go-lucky teen to traumatized victim. Charlie is well played by actor Chris Henry Coffey, because the moment you see this guy, you want to smash his face against the wall.

                                   According to a statistics in America, in 2010 there were more than 8,000 reports of online enticement received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children cyber tip line. There were 3000 arrests that same year, but the disparity in numbers is sad proof that many of these creeps don't get caught. Don't think this subject of pedophiles is non-relevant one for a developing countries. The problem is , in developing countries incidents like this never gets reported and they don't have any strong laws.
                                 "Trust" is not a crowd-pleasing revenge film. It does not offer justice to the damaged life’s/ family. Though it is rated R for "disturbing material involving the rape of a teen, language and some violence," the rape scene and the whole issue is handled discretely and sensitively. What Trust conveys, at its best, is that ultimately parental protections are not foolproof, and that is the greatest horror of all.
                                 Trust might alert the teenagers to a real danger. It also helps them to see things differently and understand how parents and children so close to each other can suddenly, quickly become estranged during the teenage years.  

         Trust is thought-provoking, mature and well acted.  


Woman In Black - Cliched Atmospheric Thriller

                                         There came a point in "Woman In Black" when i started to wonder: How often can Daniel Radcliffe walk down the same creepy hallway holding the same flickering candle searching for some bump in the night? It's a traditional story , where all the elements are in place : isolated mansion surrounded by marsh, mysterious deaths, frightened villagers and predictable secrets. All of this takes place in Victorian England, where superstition often trumps reason.

                                     I think there is no need for explaining the plot. It's very simple. The story takes place in a village , where being under 10 years old is not a good thing. No Country For Young Kids would also be a suitable title for this film. The movie is based on Susan Hill's popular 1983 novel of the same name.

      This is our first look at Radcliffe following the  "Harry Potter" franchise.The casting of Radcliffe is a good marketing strategy. It has elevated a limited release movie to a potential mainstream hit. As the lawyer, Arthur Kipps he doesn't bring more charisma to the movie. He is too young to play as a father for a 4-year old. Even with his square jaw and dark circles Radcliffe still looks like a boy wizard. Thankfully, the well-chosen supporting cast is on hand to stabilize the movie slightly, especially Ciaran Hinds as a skeptical local landowner and Janet McTeer as his deranged-by-grief wife. 

                           The children also deserves praise for their unsettling stillness. The locations, particularly the marshland area of the house, and production design are memorable, with a attentive cinematography by Tim Maurice-Jones. The score effectively augments the tension. Director James Watkins, whose previous feature film credit is the 2008 horror-thriller “Eden Lake,” has an eye for ghostly atmospherics. But he is too buried in the atmosphere , and rather could have just shouted "Boo" in the viewer's face for thrills. 

                            The climax has some kind of 'bittersweet' ending, which you could predict, if you are frequent horror movie-goer. The film avoids gore for chills, which is a good thing and remains as a traditional horror movie, but it doesn't  provide enough  thrills for the viewers. 

                        Woman In black will definitely make you jump. But will you remember what forced you out of your seat a week from now or a month? Probably not.


Woman In Black - Imdb

Shattered Glass - A Cautionary Tale

                                   Our society is rampant with deception from advertising to corporations and individuals evading taxes, politicians breaking campaign promises, and countless other minor and major violations of the truth. Many people tend to see deception as either dubious and therefore an unfit topic for conversation, or completely obvious as 'the lubricant' that keeps society going and therefore unworthy of discussion. Now, why am i talking about deception?, because the film Shattered Glass presents the ethical issues of fabrication and the deception of the writer, Stephen Glass, to his editor and co-workers. He deliberately sensationalized his stories in order to gain his reader’s attention.

      The year is 1998, and Glass, at 25, is the youngest investigative writer-editor at The New Republic. Padding through the corridors of the prestigious Washington weekly , Glass is a rising star, but he takes care to present himself as the responsible person , flashing a nervous quick smile as he flatters coworkers , mixing charm and self-deprecation with an ingenuousness that makes you want to pet him. When he thinks he's made the tiniest mistake, he asks, imploringly, ''Are you mad at me?'' 

Glass thought that he could make a bigger splash with less effort if he faked facts and sources. Soon, he was making up entire stories, and there was a big enough hole in the New Republic's fact-checking process that he was able to get away with it. 27 of the 41 stories he wrote for the magazine were partially or entirely false. 

          Mr. Christensen, best known for his light-saber work as the young Anakin Skywalker in the latest ''Star Wars'' episodes, finds the perfect balance between creepiness and charm. He presents the character as a wide-eyed and seemingly naive kid, with a lot of childish mannerisms, with a need to be liked. The performances of Hank Azaria, Peter Sarsgaard, Steve Zahn, Chloe Sevigny, and Rosario Dawson a do more than complement Mr. Christensen’s central characterization; they provide a sane backdrop for Stephen’s deceptions to steadily unravel against.

Shattered Glass, is the feature debut of Hollywood screenwriter Billy Ray. Ray said that,  It's very dangerous when people can no longer believe what they read. At that point, he notes, people tend to get all their news from television or stop seeking it entirely -- two bad solutions. A fine script and taut direction moves this movie like a thriller, as Glass tries desperately to cover his tracks and compounds his lies with more and more lies. 

                      One question remains open to interpretation at the end : Why did Glass do what he did? Was he just lazy? Was he a pathological liar? Was he fascinated by the idea of fooling people into believing the stories he fabricated? The truth is probably a mixture of these possibilities. 

                      Integration is one of the important things in journalism, and , when it is called to question, we begin to doubt everything we read in newspapers and magazines and see on television.The movie almost boggles the mind exactly how in depth the journalistic verification process goes in an effort to bring the public true information; the amount of editors it takes, how many revisions the writer makes and the number of times each article is read and reread before print.

                   Shattered Glass is a cautionary tale about the weakness of a profession that is supposed to protect our freedoms by always revealing the truth -- no matter the cost.   

Trailer :      

Shattered Glass - Imdb     

Genuine Movie Scenes

                                    All the movies have a script, and this script must be followed by the director when filmed. Most of the time, movie scenes are planned and everything is acting. But this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, what you see on the screen is far more real than you know. Unscripted changes might be made by actors with a made-up line or simply a new idea. Some of these famous scenes evokes genuine emotions, creates fear or surprise or a spontaneity. 

Here are some of the movie scenes with real emotions , that are not scripted :

The famous chestburster scene from the original Alien movie might have given a shock to many. But how could the actors involved in the scene show a realistic response? It's simple. The actors were asked to rehearse their dialogues, and were told something was going to happen at the end of the scene. They had no idea that a creature would burst from John Hurt’s chest, or they would be showered with blood. If u watch this scene again , you could feel that the terrified screams are completely genuine. 

Lord of The Rings : Two Towers
In Two Towers, there's a scene when Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas, searching for their lost Hobbit companions Merry and Pippin, come upon a pile of slain orcs. The pair are assumed dead. In frustration and anger, Aragorn kicks an orc helmet and breaks down screaming. It turns out that after a number of takes, kicking that helmet caused actor Viggo Mortensen to break two of his toes. The scream was a actual pain , a pain that he channeled into a fantastic performance.

Taxi Driver
The famous “you talkin’ to me?” monologue in Taxi Driver was actually completely improvised by Robert De Niro. The original script just said “Travis looks in the mirror”, but Scorsese liked what De Niro did , he kept it in the film. 

Fight Club
Many unscripted moments appear in David Fincher's Fight Club. In a early movie scene, when Brad Pitt and Edward Norton have their first fight outside the bar (the famous “You hit me in the ear!” line), Norton was not supposed to actually hit Pitt. However, before the scene, Fincher pulled Norton aside and told him to hit for real. Norton complied, and Pitt’s stunned reaction was entirely genuine. In another scene, the pair are seen drunkenly hitting golfballs from the yard of their home. This scene also wasn’t in the script at all, and was simply the work of Norton and Pitt, getting drunk and thinking it would be fun to hit golfballs at the catering truck. Both these scenes can be seen in this trailer. 

Apocalypse Now
Perhaps this might be the best example. the brutal breakdown of Martin Sheen’s Captain Willard in the opening scene of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now is far more real than you can imagine. In the documentary Heart of Darkness made about Apocalypse Now they explains that , the scene was shot on Sheen’s birthday. Sheen was extremely drunk and actually smashes his hand for real. The mental breakdown was genuine and the blood that he smears upon his face is entirely real.

The Silence of The Lambs
Although he has less than 25 minutes of screen time, Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal as the cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The incredibly famous line, “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”, was immortalized by Hopkin’s hiss, which he originally did as a joke. The result disturbed Jodie Foster (playing Agent Starling) so much that the look on her face in genuine. 

Gran Torino - The Legacy of Clint Eastwood

                             "Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn't have (messed) with? That's me." As the spitting, swearing, hate-spewing lead character of "Gran Torino," Clint Eastwood delivers a performance as America's most lovable vigilante. It is an odd enjoyable film that doesn't require anything from its audience than attention. while it is the sort of film critics love to gnaw on, and also a movie made for popcorn munchers.
                                        Often loners or outcasts, typically establishes his heroism by rescuing or saving a group of racial minorities who are depicted as too childlike, infirm, or weak defend themselves from peril.  In “Gran Torino,” Eastwood’s Kowalski takes the image of  heroism to a new level.

    In the opening scene of this extraordinary spiritual movie, Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), a Korean War veteran, is standing in front of a working-class Detroit Catholic church at the funeral of his beloved wife. He scowls at the disrespect evidenced by the unruly children of his two upscale sons. Walt sits on his porch all day long, when he's not doing house repairs or working on his prized 1972 Gran Torino. Kowalski carries the same anger and scorn for others to his urban neighborhood, including the Asian family next door. They are Hmong immigrants, whose people hail from Laos and Thailand; during the Vietnam War they helped the Americans and when the Yanks left, they fled for their lives.

                   He has no use at all for the family next door. But when a group of Hmong gangbangers tries to recruit Thao (Bee Vang) and the ensuing disturbance spills onto his lawn, Walt is suddenly involved in his neighbors' lives. When he sees Sue, Thao's sister being harassed by some African-American punks, he rescues her from harm's way. This endears him to his neighbors even more. And over time, with traditional Asian food and Chinese beer breaks down his defenses. Is it a believable transformation? Eastwood, at times laugh-out-loud funny, at others surprisingly ugly in what he says (occasionally both at the same time), makes Walt's change seem genuine.

         Eastwood puts in a stellar performance as Kowalski, a working-class stiff whose toxic prejudice is slowly whittled away through his contact with his Hmong neighbors. The pleasure in watching this miracle take place is what makes Gran Torino one of the best films. He also directed the movie, from a screenplay by Nich Schenk. Hmong roles were filled by nonpros and quite adequately so. As Thao, Bee Vang shows more growth and development of personality. He and Eastwood evidence the right amount of chemistry - certainly enough to allow us to believe that they care for each other against all odds. Ahney Her as Thao's sister, Sue, gives a bright and energetic performance. Apart from the lead characters Sue is the one we're most likely to remember long after the end credits have expired. 

                                 The film gets extra points for its climax and unconventional resolution, which i will not disclose here. The movie serves as a reflection of how human beings view one another.  Of course, it could be argued that as it is a White writer, all that is being presented is a limited Euro-centric view of the world.But, films that deal with inter-communal dialogue, will always face criticism from at least one direction, or perhaps many. The fact that racism and humanism can be delivered  within the same film, is the exact brilliance of this film.

                        One more reason to watch the movie : What other figure in the history of the cinema has been an actor for 55 years, a director for 38, won two Oscars for direction, two more for best picture, and at 79 can direct himself in his own film and look meaner than hell? None, that's how many.

Trailer : 

Gran Torino - Imdb   
Rated R for language, and some violence                    

The Straight Story - A Old Man's Odyssey

                                            Many say, 'Pride is a double-edged sword.' It can give a person dignity and a sense of honor, but it can also take away through arrogance and vanity; sometimes it is the very cause of the injustice that an individual may experience.This theme is explored in the movie 'The Straight Story', where director David Lynch, have chosen a 73 year old man as the protagonist. The Straight Story is a G-rated movie, and was distributed by Walt Disney pictures. But don't think this is a kids movie, because they might find this movie slow and boring. Straight Story is a cinematic food for adult and mature audiences, that is devoid of violence, sex, or cursing. It is an honest and engaging attempt about real people from the heartland of America.

    The Straight Story is based on a real event in the life of a real person. It is a is a comedy of reunion,  in the later years of Alvin Straight, one of those unobtrusive men who generally live and die anonymously. Straight (Richard Farnsworth) has two bad hips, choked lungs, and poor eyesight. He lives in Laurens, Iowa, with his middle-aged daughter Rose (Sissy Spacek), who is a little "slow" mentally. When Alvin hears that his brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton) has suffered a stroke, he decides to go visit him. "There's no one who knows your life better than a brother that's near your age," he says. "He knows who you are and what you are better than anyone on Earth." Alvin has been estranged from Lyle for ten years, and he believes it is time to swallow his pride and reach out to him.

                       But it's not easy to make the journey because, Alvin doesn't have a driver's license anymore, and he doesn't like to accept help from others. He decides to make this pilgrimage on a old lawnmower pulling a trailer with his supplies and room for him to sleep at night. The cross-state journey, which takes six weeks during the late summer and early fall, is chronicled episodically, with a genuine emotional impact. 

        I asked myself a simple question after watching this movie: If I hadn't known the director's identity beforehand and hadn't seen the opening credits, would I have recognized this as a Lynch effort? The answer is probably no.For those of u who don't know , David Lynch, I'd like to say, he is a master in crafting bizarre and compelling movies, which sometimes is very hard to understand. He mostly relies on shock tactics to arrest the audience's attention. Yet, he surprises us with a quiet and emotional family tale of reconciliation. His portrayal of American heartland is simple, but not naive. 
                       A movie like this would never work unless the lead actor hits all the right notes, and the immensely charismatic Farnsworth surely does. It's impossible to imagine the film without him; his soft voice, deep blue eyes and effortlessly manly stature embody the qualities of the good American father figure/buddy. 

                      One of the most excellent scene comes up , when Early in his trip, Alvin encounters a female hitchhiker. She spends some time around a campfire with him. She has run away from home, but he gives her the following advice: "A warm bed in a house sounds a mite better than eating a hot dog on a stick with an old geezer traveling on a lawn mower." When Alvin finally reaches brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton), the meeting is also a deeply moving scene. For Alvin and Lyle show their feelings in none of the expected ways.They encounter each other, motionlessly and almost speechlessly, and only because we have been through the journey with Alvin and have thereby learned to read his inner contradictions of alienation and commitment.

                      "The Straight Story" is an emotional journey, fulfilling and touching, that put a broad smile on my face and kept it there, from the start of the film to the end. This is the kind of small, unexpected movie that doesn't draw crowds, but those who see it will feel privileged to have been one of the few.

  Trailer :     

The Straight Story - Imdb                                   

Clint Eastwood : Silver Screen Legend

                                     The lone ranger cowboy rides into the screen, with a cigar in his mouth, and also with a stunning background score by Ennio Morricone, sets the pulses racing. The definition of a cool persona in the movies was a standard set by Clint Eastwood. Today, with a diverse career that spans over six decades from television and blockbuster movies, to writing screenplay, directing, and winning Academy Awards, Clint Eastwood has established himself as one of the most respected actor and a brilliant versatile director. 
  • Born in San Francisco on 31st May 1930. His family frequently moved California, before settling in  Oregon. He moved to Seattle in 1951 and worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor for the military for two years, before returning to California.
  •  He also worked as a logger and a gas station attendant, among other things, before coming to Hollywood in the mid-1950's. In 1953, he was encouraged by fellow Army friends, to move to Los Angeles and try acting. They saw that he had the rugged good looks and mysterious aura that might impress the big shots in Hollywood.
  • After his arrival, he played small roles in several Universal features. But he was soon dropped when some execs decided his Adam's apple was too big. He swallowed his pride and, over the next few years, he dug swimming pools between playing bit parts in movies and on TV. 
  • Then, in 1958, whilst going to visit a friend, it seemed his luck had finally changed. He was approached by a man in a suit, a studio executive. He took a long look at Eastwood and asked, “Are you an actor?” It turned out that they were looking for someone to play the second lead in a western series called 'Rawhide' and Eastwood looked just like a cowboy. He could be the handsome cattle-driver!, Eastwood accepted and filming started shortly after.
  • Throughout the '70s, he was the world's biggest box-office draw, but his critical reputation didn't begin to turn until 1980, when New York's Museum of Modern Art honored him with a career retrospective.
  • As a filmmaker, Eastwood learned his lessons from the best of his previous directors, Don Siegel and Sergio Leone. Their approaches perfectly suited Eastwood's restrained acting style, and he integrated their them into his filmmaking technique with startling results, culminating in 1993 with his "Best Director" Oscar for The Unforgiven (1992).
  • Trade Mark : Known on-set as a director for filming very few takes and having an easy shooting schedule. His characters are often men struggling to overcome their past and atone for their crimes. Frequently uses shadow lighting in his films.
  • Ranked #2 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. He was voted the 16th "Greatest Movie Star of All Time" by Entertainment Weekly. Premiere Magazine ranked him as #43 on a list of the Greatest Movie Stars of All Time in their Stars in Our Constellation feature. 
  • His performance as Blondie in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) is ranked #50 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time. His performance as "Dirty" Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry (1971) is ranked #42 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.   
  • Received the Career Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Received an honorary C├ęsar Award in Paris, France, for his body of work. He was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts on February 25, 2010 for his services and contributions to the arts. President of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1994.
  • He has Won four Oscars. On February 27, 2005, at age 74, he became the oldest person to win the Best Director Oscar for Million Dollar Baby (2004). His 96-year old mother was in attendance at the ceremony. He directed 10 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances.
  •  Has 7 children with 5 different women. Six of his children have appeared in his films. Sondra Locke, one of his wife  wrote an autobiography titled "The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly", which included details about her 14-year relationship with him.
  • Supports various charities and foundations , including : Artists for Peace and Justice, Best Buddies International, Best Friends Animal Society, City of Hope, Film Foundation, Image of Change, Red Cross, Unite for Japan. 
  •  Dislikes hunting, saying that he doesn't enjoy killing an animal for no reason. Although he has been associated with violent movies throughout his career, he personally detests it. 
  • He has always disliked the reading of political and social agendas in his films, which has occurred from Dirty Harry (1971) to Million Dollar Baby (2004). He has always maintained that all of his films are apolitical and what he has in mind when making a film is whether it's going to be entertaining and compelling.
  • Claimed that the trait he most despised in others was racism. Contrary to rumors, he is not a vegetarian. However, he does keep to a strict lowfat diet.

Clint Eastwood Quotes :

"Most people who'll remember me, if at all, will remember me as an action guy, which is OK. There's nothing wrong with that. But there will be a certain group which will remember me for the other films, the ones where I took a few chances. At least, I like to think so."

"They say marriages are made in Heaven. But so is thunder and lightning." 

"Every movie I make teaches me something, and that's why I keep making them. I'm at that stage of life when I could probably stop and just hit golf balls. But in filming these two movies about Iwo Jima, I learnt about war and about character. I also learnt a lot about myself." 

"If you believe in reincarnation you're putting too much on the other side. I believe you have just one shot at life, and you should do the best you can with that shot. And I suppose you should be thankful that you've been given the ability to do certain things in life, and not be greedy enough to want to stay around forever."  

"I've always had the ability to say to the audience, watch this if you like, and if you don't, take a hike."

                                               Clint Eastwood, even though 81 years old is still at the peak of creative powers. Although he is cutting back on screen time, Eastwood does not appear ready to down his tools yet behind the scenes and directed J.Edgar recently. The dominant movement in Eastwood’s career as a director has been towards a focus on characters and interpersonal relationships, deepening an investigative project begun many years before. Looking back over Eastwood’s impressive career, there is no doubt that his success on both sides of the camera has assured him a place in cinema history. The lean legend shows no signs of tiredness yet, with more projects still in the pipeline. 

               The sheer classical elegance of Clint Eastwood's screen presence is a delight for all movie-lovers to behold.  

Clint Eastwood - Wikipedia                            

Turtles Can Fly - Wake Up Call For Humanity

                                         We all know life is hard. But there are movies that makes us escape the reality. We are so particular about the cast. We want to know if it is a hit. We sometimes wait  for recommendations. But 'Turtles Can Fly', is a movie which haunts us with the reality.  
                                        Many of us take our lives for granted. We wake up in the mornings stretching a little and there is a  smile in our faces as the dawn breaks. We desire for materials, like smart phones, Bikes, cars and various other gadgets. Sometimes we are disappointed by situations, when they don’t go our way. Whenever you feel sad about some petty things, watch a movie like 'Turtles Can Fly.' It could make us feel, how much blessed we are with our precious lives.

   The teen, Soran (Soran Embrahim), is nicknamed Satellite because he's the go-to guy for anyone in his village who wants a satellite dish installed. Long before anyone else, the budding entrepreneur recognized that dishes would be the only way to pick up news of an impending invasion. Led by Soran, the boys also attempt to rid the countryside of land mines, leftovers from the Iraqi military's attempts to take over their village on the border between Iran and Turkey. 

                  Another youth, Henkov (Hirsh Feyssal), his arms blown off by a bomb, is thought to be clairvoyant, the locals' traditional method of obtaining information. Henkov's pronouncements have an eerie way of coming true. He's traveling nomad-like with his beautiful sister Agrin (Avaz Latif) and a very young boy whose relationship to them doesn't become clear until near the end. Soran falls for her. Latif plays Agrin with a faraway look explained in a flashback showing the horror her family has been put through.

              This riveting and heart-breaking Iranian film is written and directed by Bahman Ghobadi whose film A Time for Drunken Horses was also about the desperate measures taken by children to survive in a surrounding of death and destruction.  he conveys the misery of kurdish refugees without a trace of self-pity or excess. It's difficult to think of a filmmaker working today who is as committed to mastering the art of pure despair. The performances given by the children cannot be called acting as all the child actors in this movie were actual refugees . 

                       Satellite is a great character , a survivor possessed of charisma, wit and wisdom beyond his years.  By far the most unerasable character in "Turtles Can Fly," though, is the mysterious Agrin, whom Latif plays with breathtaking fierceness and power. In Agrin, Ghobadi has created one of the most haunting, unsettling and uncompromising portraits of psychic damage in recent memory. All the child actors bring electrifying authenticity and presence to their roles. 

                       The landmines the children collect from the fields to sell to the U.N. or to arms merchants can explode at any moment, and the best ones, says Satellite, are "made in America." In war zones around the world, even for years after the end of combat operations, these weapons continue to take lives and limbs, ugly and dangerous imports from the supposedly free world.

                      The movie has raised many questions :  If a child goes missing in a developed country, an amber alert is issued on the internet and the television - Is it ok for a child to die in a war simply because he/she was born in Afghanistan or Iraq or Kashmir or Africa? What gives people the right to put fellow human beings through such misery? Can people who inflict such implicit cruelty to so many people in general be fit to be called humans? 

                    If history has thought us one thing - it is that - War is almost never an answer to anything. The Iraq war to us, unfolded through news clips of President Bush and Saddam Hussein. But that's all in the background. In the foreground are the often forgotten casualties of war. They'll be harder to forget after seeing "Turtles Can Fly.''I recommend this movie, because it isn't just a movie, it's a emotional experience for any human being.

Trailer : 

Born Into Brothels - Transforming Power of Art

                                       ALL TOO often, we see poverty and hopelessness, and simply register them as head-shaking abstracts. Those little girls with runny noses or those hunched-over souls in lines for food,  aren't real people somehow. They're part of a kind of suffering. We subconsciously congratulate ourselves for even noticing.
                                                  A long time ago, in the villages of  Africa, children were treated like kings. The community knew that their gifts would carry on the legacies of the tribe, so it was the responsibility of adults to draw out the best of each child. How different is this philosophy from the attitude toward children in most places in the world today! You might wonder, why i am telling all these things. The documentary, 'Born Into Brothels', takes us right into the homes where the children play. Where is their homes??? 

                                             The place of their home is Sonagachi, Calcutta's red light district, where the children of prostitutes essentially see two types of adults: their mothers and a steady stream of male strangers, all with the same dehumanizing intentions. 

British photographer Zana Briski originally went to Sonagachi to document the lives of its women. But after meeting and quickly befriending their children, she altered her plans. She not only made a film about the kids, she tried to give them a future. 

"Born Into Brothels," is about her attempts to change the perspectives of eight children -- literally and figuratively -- through photography workshops. Briski recruited New York docu editor Ross Kauffman to help her record the process, and the observed results confirm her enthusiastic assessment of some of the kids' talents. Numerous photos show a real eye, which in fact led to multiple international shows of the work in New York and Amsterdam.

          Briski and Kauffman go easy on the noble intentions and steer clear of larger statements about third world poverty and exploitation. Instead, they focus on the children, who are funny, and desperate to get out of the hellhole that is their lives. We quickly come to know them as individuals: Shy Kochi, bossy Shanti, prankish Manik, serious Gour, placid Suchitra. Two seem especially blessed with potential:  the charismatic Puja, who serves as occasional narrator, and her friend, the chunky, sensitive Avijit.

                              ''Born Into Brothels" doesn't flinch. It shows these children navigating a hopelessly ruined adult world, aware that their own time is running out. The girls have it the worst: They know only education will save them from the line and that no school in India will take the children of sex workers.(In most cases, their own families are pressuring them to take up prostitution as soon as possible.) 

                              There's a measure of suspense toward the end, as Avijit's chance to be part of a children's photo-editing panel in Amsterdam looks to evaporate after his mother dies in a mysterious fire (probably set by her pimp) and the boy sinks into depression. Although some may be annoyed at the image of the concerned Westerner playing God in the lives of unfortunate Third World childrens, few could deny that these are kids desperately in need of a helping hand. The documentary doesn't talk about any political agenda., it just generates genuine emotion. 

                              ''Born Into Brothels" dignifies a handful of children for a Western audience far beyond what a charity photo in a magazine can do.More important, it gives them a chance to record their world. Most important of all, it opens the door to let some of them escape. Watching this documentary , makes us clear that, each child has a  gold mine of creativity and wonder inside that is meant to be shared with others.

                              Briski has a foundation called 'Kids With Cameras', which supports the kids shown in the film and also sends other photographers out into the world to teach these children about photography.

                    A book containing photographs taken by the children in the film is available from Kids With Cameras.
Born Into Brothels - Imdb

Malcolm X - A Exiciting and Compelling Biopic!

   "The journey of spiritual growth requires courage and initiative and independence of thought and action. While the words of the prophets and the assistance of grace are available, the journey must still be traveled alone. No teacher can carry you there."
— M. Scott Peck, (American Psychiatrist)

                            In Malcolm X, Director Spike lee uses the film medium to track the spiritual journey of this controversial black Muslim leader, preacher, and activist.  It happens to be a spiritually enriching testament to the human capacity for change. This historical, ambitious epic movie manages to sustain itself for 3 hours and 21 minutes. The film is carried by the quiet intensity of Denzel Washington as Malcolm X. 

Who is Malcolm X ?

                              Malcolm Little was born on may 19, 1925  was an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist. He indicted the white America in harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. . Detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacy, antisemitism, and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history. He went by many names: Malcolm Little, then Red for the color of his hair. 'Satan' during the early part of his 6 1/2 -year prison stint; then Malcolm X, his Black Muslim name, and finally, after his break with Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam, he called himself El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. In his 39 years , Malcolm X was many things : criminal , prisoner, leader, mystic, martyr.

Movie Analysis
               In the title role, Washington smooths the political figure's rough edges with his immensely likable personality; he also charges his quieter moments with passionate fire. Everyone who has a stake in Malcolm's legacy will argue about aspects of his character that seem overblown or skimped, but none can deny the conviction and grace of Washington's portrayal. Director Spike Lee convincingly tracks both the low and the high roads of Malcolm X's spiritual journey. His enormous affection for his hero suffuses his work, nevertheless resists the temptation to sanitize Malcolm as Richard Attenborough did Gandhi. The other performances convincingly mirror the man's charisma and its positive and negative results.
                    Malcolm X is a good movie, which is also educational. Sometimes going to see a movie that is good for you is like eating a food that is good for you, but that you don't like, broccoli, for instance. Malcolm X, I'm happy to say, is educational, but, like good food, is not hard to swallow. Near the end of his 39 years, Malcolm abandoned separatist teachings after his pilgrimage to Mecca, brought him into contact with devout Moslems of all races. And just as Malcolm opens his mind to the possibilities of global harmony, he attained his martyrdom. 

                 Lee and company have performed a powerful service: they have brought Malcolm X very much to life again, both as man and myth. "Malcolm X" closes with Nelson Mandela's reading of one of Malcolm's more celebrated speeches, and finally with a attempt to tie it all together with cute schoolchildren. It's a little much, but then so was "Gandhi."  Watch this sincere and heartfelt film , if you could afford 3 hours in your precious life.

Trailer : 

Se7en - Twisted Brilliance

                              Originality in movies is a rarity, with many central themes having been plundered to the point of audience exhaustion. What the viewer can occasionally hope for is a fresh new slant or re-interpretation. "Se7en" is such an example of classic horror thrills, up-ended and twisted into a bewildering web of tension.  Seven isn't transparent or moronic, and it doesn't insult the average viewer's intelligence. David Fincher's second feature, after Alien³, cuts against most expectations for this sort of genre piece, with a striking performance from Morgan Freeman.

             The title refers to the Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Envy, Wrath, Pride, and Lust. The film successfully points out that, in today's society, these sins are looked upon as normal--what were once considered deadly are now considered everyday. That is, until a serial killer decides to wake people up by killing sinners in ways that symbolize their respective transgressions. The victims in Seven range from a high-price defense lawyer to a prostitute to a vain fashion model, showing how sin infiltrates every level of society. 
                       The two conflicting heroes of Seven are Detective William Sommerset (Morgan Freeman) and his eager new partner, Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt). Sommerset is a hardened, experienced cop who is less than a week away from his much-desired retirement. His eyes are always dark and heavy, and we get the feeling that he was seen too much evil in the world. He was once an excited idealist like Mills, but years of probing the underbelly of society have worn him down. Although the new cop/old cop routine is well-worn, it is an intricate necessity in Seven because it is essential to the shocking finale. I won't even hint at what it is or the identity of the serial killer.

          Freeman's is a supremely nuanced, moving performance as the seasoned, bruised and solitary Somerset. This is screen acting at its best. Pitt turns in a determined, energetic, creditable job as the eager young detective. Gwyneth Paltrow gives as much human dimension as possible to her few scenes as Pitt's sensitive, uncertain wife.The actor, who plays the serial killer , is not listed in on the opening credits for the purpose of surprise; but i will say his performance is appropriately creepy and disturbing. Cinematographer Darius Khondji (City of Lost Children) and production designer Arthur Max have sculpted a dark, murky world, parts of which are illuminated only by flashlight. Everything is dark and grungy, and even in open spaces there is an uncomfortable, claustrophobic feel. 

                                  Director David Fincher, since Se7en  has solidified his standing as one of Hollywood's most creative and unorthodox talents with The Game (1997) and Fight Club (1999), Zodiac (2007), The Social Network (2010), and the recent The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011), but at the time, nothing could have prepared us for the sheer visual intensity of Seven. His techniques in Se7en are confidently different. Rather than lingering gore shots, we get a diffused layering of the visual and verbal , to  nauseating effect.

                               Although Se7en seems excruciatingly violent, there is little physical violence depicted on-screen. We never actually see the killer doing the deed-- only the results rendered in harsh detail by make-up and special effects. In a film like this , the viewer is placed alongside the police officer in the role of a outsider, following the killer's trail. You have the knowledge, that another murder is bound to happen , but you are powerless to stop it. The pace is fast and the shocks build beautifully.  The only problem with Se7en is Brad Pitt's Mills is not a likable character. He is cocky and arrogant with an inflated opinion of himself. 

                      Se7en is a worthwhile and a very watchable film , but don't look for a lot of deep social commentary. Lean back , peer into the darkness and watch this gut-wrenching film as it is structurally brilliant. 

Trailer :