By virtue of being in NLS, I've been exposed to a lot more music and movies than I would otherwise have been. I've decided to review some of the movies that belong to that genre, namely thing I would have never watched if I had chosen the life path that I was expected to, which was just a mallu boy studying engineering in College of Engineering Trivandrum. The movies are not numbered in any sort of order.1. Rumble Fish
I've always had a fascination for Francis Ford Coppola's work, and Apocalypse Now is one of my favourite movies, but if I'm asked to name the one movie that he's made that I love the most, the answer has to be Rumble Fish. I didnt even know of the existence of the movie till I was in 2nd year, and it was only as late as Fourth Year that PM and Sal played this movie when I was lounging around in their room. Five minutes into it, I was mesmerized. This is one of those rare movies where each frame is dripping with raw coolness.
The characterization is out of the world. Matt Dillon was an actor i despised and never thought capable of the kind of thing he did to the Rusty James character. Naivety, the desire to be tough and cool, a fear of being alone, and a certain endearing stupidity have all been incorporated so well into the character that I have almost forgiven Dillon for There's Something About Mary
. Mickey Rourke, as the Motorcycle Boy does justice to a character that in the novel, remarks that it is "a bit of a burden to be Robin Hood, Jesse James, and the Pied Piper."
Add Dennis Hopper, Diane Lane, Nicholas Cage, and Lawrence Fishbourne all doing justice to their roles, and what we have is a perfectly and seamlessly allotted characterization. And that's not all. Certain shots in this movie give me the goosbumps. The shot of the clouds passing by indicating the passage of time took me back a long way to a sunday afternoon in my early childhood when I watched breathlessly as V. Shantaram used moving shadows of jail bars to show the passage of time in Do Aankhien Baarah Haath.
The smoky look fo the movie was apparently inspired by a 1951 War movie by Anatole Litvak called Decision Before Dawn.
Having never heard of it before, I decided to Youtube it and came up with this. Its a matter of perspective I guess.
Finally, there are those who have argued with me that the film's stylistic quotient is overt and hence bad. I tend to react vitriolically to any such criticism, because for me, thats the whole point of the movie. The style is important in the message, and mistake me not, this is a movie with a message. Do not forget that the book on which the movie is based won the ALA Best Books for Young Adults, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, and the Land of the Enchantment Awards. Without the style, the movie wouldnt be what it is.
2. Tropa De Elite
Why do I like a movie thats been decribed by Jay Weissberg as "a one-note celebration of violence-for-good that plays like a recruitment film for fascist thugs"? Simple, thats exactly why I like it. I happen to belive that violence plays a very important role in a third world society and this movie reletlessly potrays the side of developing countries that movies like Slumdog Millionaire
don't even begin to skim. If you have seen City of God, then this movie will change you once more. In one sentence, it is City of God on Speed
The story of how I watched this movie is fun. Kumara the dude got it from somewhere, and one fine day came yelling " Macha I have this mindfucking movie that you HAVE to see." So we saw it. And guess what? It blew me away compltely. If its true that it is inspired by real events, as it claims to be, then I'm in awe. This movie will shock you, perhaps disgust you, perhaps move you, but you will not be the same after you have seen it. I'll give you a small taste of it. This is the absolutely fabulous opening scene.
If you are the sorts that likes gory action movies, this is you ultimate adrenaline rush. But its not just that. The movie throws open a lot of debate on Corruption in a Developing Society. Sample this.
Or see this one, aptly titled in Youtube as The Seeds of Evil.
And hey, if there's anyone out there who thought that Jack Nicholson was right in A Few Good Men
when he said "Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and curse the Marines; you have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives and that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use then as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to
", then Capt. Nascimento in this movie will be your messiah for the next few years. He doesnt tak as much as Nicholson did, but he does much more.
At the end of the day this is one of those movies that will keep you glued throughout the time you are watching it, and leave you thinking for weeks afterwards.3. The Thin Red Line
If you want to see a war movie, I'd suggest you go watch Apocalypse Now. If however, you want to see the best shot war scenes, you have to look at The Thin Red Line. But make no mistake, this no war movie. It's neither an epic nor an action flick. It can only be described as yet another Terrence Malick movie. The thing about this movie is despite the HUGE star cast, the movie is not about the characters. This ia director doing what he does best, indulging his sense of aesthetics. Nobody captures nature better than Malick and he's at his best in doing that here. Malick movies dont offer much by way of explanation in terms of dialogue but the visuals say it all. And the Soundtrack. What songs. The best in my opinion was "Jisas Yu Holem Hand Blong Mi" which was sadly left out of the OST. Here
is a link to teh song though.
That said, the movie had some immortal lines. This is a tribute video with some of the best lines of the movie.
And to understand what I mean by the visual brilliance of a Terrence Malik film, check this video out.4. Vanishing Point
If I'm asked which is my favourite movie of all time, I'd be at a loss to explain how I dont have one favourite movie. But if asked to give an indicative list, Vanishing Point is one movie thats sure to make the list. This was a movie I foun on Karan's hard drive and noone in my friends circle seemed to know anything about it. After I saw it, that was hardly the case. After a while people started refering to it as "that movie Jian pimps all the time." There's reason behind it. Perhaps no other movie fascinated me the way this one did. I cant really explain the reasons for that. The movie was about a guy who goes on a speed rampage on America's great desert Highways in a '70 Dodge Challenger, that most sexy and masculine of all great American muscle cars.
Maybe its the technique of storytelling employed. Maybe its the amazing shots of the desert and the road. Maybe its because I think its the greatest road movie ever made (Easy Rider
does not even compare.) Maybe its the quotes. And there are so many damn good ones. Like Super Soul's "And there goes the Challenger, being chased by the blue, blue meanies on wheels. The vicious traffic squad cars are after our lone driver, the last American hero, the electric centaur, the, the demi-god, the super driver of the golden west! Two nasty Nazi cars are close behind the beautiful lone driver. The police numbers are gettin' closer, closer, closer to our soul hero, in his soul mobile, yeah baby! They about to strike. They gonna get him. Smash him. Rape... the last beautiful free soul on this planet
." Maybe Its teh ending. I dont know what really makes this movie truly GREAT. But it is. Take my word for it.
Check out this trailer of the movie for some awesome scenes.
And all you Taratino fans, what do you think this entire sequence from "Death Proof" was inspired by? (The car the girls are driving is? yes, a white Dodge Challenger)
And any Audioslave fans out there should know that the great video of "Show me how to live"
was nothing but scenes cut from Vanishing Point with Chris Cornell's irritating face instead of Barry Newman's. Check it out for yourself.
Make no mistake, this is the grandaddy of all road movies. It's a great influence for entities as dissimilar as Tarantino, Primal Scream and Audioslave. And as far as the ending goes, This quote from wiki sums it all.
"The ending (and, by extension, the overall theme of the film) has been the source of much debate. The viewer is left guessing why Kowalski insists on driving to San Francisco immediately and then drives heedlessly across four states to his death. Kowalski himself says only "I gotta be in Frisco 3 o'clock tomorrow afternoon." And when Jake scoffs that he's being put on, Kowalski says, "I wish to God I was."
Barry Newman offered his interpretation of the film's ending in an interview printed in the March 1986 issue of Musclecar Review. He said, "Kowalski smiles as he rushes to his death at the end of Vanishing Point because he believes he will make it through the roadblock." The August 2006 issue of Motor Trend magazine has a sidebar with Newman, in which he explains that Kowalski sees the light glinting from between the two bulldozers. "To Kowalski, it was still a hole to escape through. It symbolized that no matter how far they push or chase you, no one can truly take away your freedom and there is always an escape." Newman also theorized that the entire film itself was an essay on existentialism. Kowalski drives to drive, with no real purpose for doing what he's doing. He decides to give his own life its definition and meaning, with complete freedom over his actions."
Maybe thats why I like it. Doing things because you feel freedom in not having limits while doing them.