Category Archives: American Movies

The Reader – Movie Review

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Movie: The Reader

Releasing Year: 2008

Director: Stephen Daldry

Writer/Screenplay:  David Hare

Country of Origin: U.S.A & Germany

Running Time: 124 minutes

Languages: English, German, Greek

Genre: Drama, Romance, History

The Reader Movie Review:

Well ‘The Reader’ is a movie about an affair between a woman in her mid-thirties, Hanna (played by Kate Winslet) and Michael who is 15 (played by David Kross and in the later part of the movie played by Ralph Fiennes in his 60s). A movie with Nazi Holocaust as the backdrop. I have seen so many movies on this topic-the list is endless. But that event in the history of mankind, still inspires people to make movies on it. As there are so many aspects to it which the world hasn’t stopped thinking about. But ‘The Reader’ is much more than an expression on the futility of human cruelty. It is about love, reconciliation, and a woman’s pursuit to find redemption. Hanna defends herself in the war-crime trial and like many of us, realizes the severity of her crime much later in life, when it’s too late.

The Reader is a good comment on classic human behavior of ‘doing without thinking’. Hanna in the movie, at least had the courage to admit that she was one of the guards in selecting the Jews every month (as to who will go to the gallows). But her other colleagues just follow the bandwagon of ‘fallacy,’ denying their involvement in the crime. A very typical of human behavior of not wanting to rise above mediocrity, as we don’t wish to lose our comfort zone.

Michael’s affair with Hanna was more based on sexual relationship. Michael as a teenager discovers his own sexuality with Hanna who also wisely guides him in the act of lovemaking. There are good number of scenes of nudity and the experience of orgasmic fulfillment. But the relation between the two runs much deeper….more so, for Michael. Hanna is illiterate and loves to be read to. And Michael a good, animated reader reads to her some of the best works of literature (Homer’s Odyssey, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The lady with the little dog). This reading followed by sex forms a bond between them-an experience, a relation that will affect Michael for a lifetime.

Life often gives us a chance to look back at our behavior, analyse our past actions, and rise above our errors to become a more wholesome and a responsible human being. But very few can justify this chance-just a few like Hanna did in The Reader.

At the end of the movie Michael meets a Jewish woman (a survivor of the Holocaust) with an expectation of the Jewish victims to understand Hanna. The woman does not forgive Hanna’s crime but does make an effort to understand the culprit better, which for me is a step towards forgiveness. This effort of great character does somewhere make the Jewish woman a slightly more satisfied human being. And therein lies the power of forgiveness.

The Reader Performances:

The performances by Kate Winslet and David Kross as young Michael are commendable. Bob Marley once said, “Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.” In this movie, Michael Berg finds that one worthy person.

 

Reviewed By: Pallavi Patil

Black Panther – Movie Review

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Movie: Black Panther

Releasing Year: 2018

Director: Ryan Coogler

Writer/Screenplay: Joe Robert Cole, Ryan Coogler

Country of Origin: U.S.A

Running Time: 134 minutes

Languages: English, Wakandian (Some dialogues)

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-fi

Black Panther Movie Review:

With the introduction of Black Panther in the Marvel movies, the world is seeing the addition of African continent in otherwise American-centric marvel world. The first mention of Black Panther came in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War movie. Where  Prince T’Challa (Black Panther) after the death of his father, King T’Chaka at a UN meeting allies himself with Tony Stark (Iron Man) and fights against Captain Steve Rogers (Captain America) and his allies, that included Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier). In post credits he is seen talking to Captain Rogers and we get an idea that he has taken Bucky to his nation, Wakanda.

Black Panther Story-line:

The movie starts as T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is getting ready to crowned as the future King of Wakanda. For the first time, the audience get to know the real Wakanda and the “origin of Black Panther”. At the crowning ritual, T’Challa is challenged by M’Baku (Lord of the Jabari tribe, the only tribe that refused to accept the Black Panther as the King and Protector of the nation of Wakanda). T’Challa defeats him, but he allows M’Baku to live instead of killing him.

Soon T’Challa gets to know that an identified object made of Wakanda made of Vibranium is stolen from a London museum. The man behind it is, Ulysses Klaue (a fugitive that is wanted by Wakanda). The King decides to undertake a mission in Busan, South Korea and bring Klaue to face trial in his kingdom. Accompanied by his elite forces’ general Okoye and his ex-love interest, Nakia, T’Challa fails to bring Klaue home. Instead, the King brings a CIA agent, Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) to heal as he took a bullet while defending Nakia during a gunfight with Klaue’s men.

Meanwhile, a man claiming to be of royal blood shows up at the Wakandan border, he brings Klaue’s body with him and wins the support of W’Kabi (who wanted Klaue dead to avenge his family’s death caused by him). The man is N’Jadaka / Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, an expert killer and member of the US army. He is also the cousin of T’Challa and now lays his claim for the Wakandan throne, T’Challa accepts Killmonger’s challenge. He is defeated by Killmonger in a ritual combat and thrown over from a cliff. Seeing the gravity of the situation, Nakia takes the Queen and Shuri (T’Challa’s sister) to safe place alongside Agent Ross.

They go to Jabari tribe for help and find that T’Challa is not dead. Lord M’Baku tells T’Challa that now they are even as he has returned his favor of  life for a life. T’Challa asks M’Baku’s help to retake the throne, but M’Baku refuses to give his men as he sees this is of no interest for his people.

In the climax, Killmonger and W’Kabi fight against Black Panther and his supporters. With the help of Agent Ross, Shuri, Nakia and Okoye, T’Challa defeats his cousin and kills him.

Why to Watch Black Panther?

Director, Ryan Coogler has given us a wonderful cinematic treat in the form of Black Panther movie. The screenplay, background music, action scenes, cinematography and acting all are brilliant. Everyone has performed their role to perfection and the portrayal of Wakanda as an African country is really overwhelming to watch. Black Panther movie also has references where we get to know that how colonial powers have exploited the continent of Africa, and now the African youth is rearing to catch up with the rest of the world. This is clearly visible in the post credit scene when at the UN meeting, T’Challa announces that his country will no  longer remain in the shadows and will share its technical knowhow and resources with the rest of the world.

My Verdict of Black Panther

I am giving 10/10 to this film and is super excited for the Infinity War, where once again we will see Black Panther. I loved the plot and its execution, there is never a dull moment in this film. I especially loved the background score that had a great blend of traditional African and modern techno music. So, if you are a Marvel fan then don’t wait anymore to watch this movie.

 

Reviewed By: Mirza Yusuf Faiyaz

Yusuf is a History student and a teacher by profession, but has immense interest in arts and culture. He thinks that Cinema as an art form is an extension of a country’s soft power.

Heat – Movie Review

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Movie: Heat

Releasing Year: 1995

Directors:  Michael Mann

Writer/Screenplay: Michael Mann

Country of Origin: U.S.A

Running Time: 170 minutes

Language: English

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Heat Movie Review:

Neil McCauley: A guy told me one time, “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.” Now, if you’re on me and you gotta move when I move, how do you expect to keep a… a marriage?

To be able to detach yourself from all the emotional strings attached when you see the heat coming around the corner is the discipline Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro) follows to perform his job as an expert thief. This movie is an LA crime saga starring Al Pacino (Michael Hanna, the LAPD Police detective), Robert DeNiro (Neil McCauley, a professional criminal), Chris (Val Kilmer, another associate in Neil’s criminal gang). This is a superb cat and mouse chase between the intelligent cops and highly efficient criminals. The difference is that there is no mouse. Both are highly intelligent cats and are masters of their professions.

Heat - 1995 Movie - Al Pacino
Heat – 1995 Movie – Al Pacino

Heat Movie Story-line:

McCauley leads a gang of very efficient thieves who rob banks etc. They know their craft very well. In this gang there is no place for thoughtless, immature murderers. This alienates Waingro (played by Kevin Gage) from the gang, early in the movie. The camaraderie between the gang members is awesome. They really care for each other. All the characters in the movie are very well fleshed out. All of them including Chris’ wife Charlene (played by Ashley Judd) and Hanna’s wife (Lauren) played by Natalie Portman) are well aware of  the realities of their life and know to express themselves well. In their own situations they can express their happiness and complaints. They talk…they communicate. Both the cops and the criminals (along with their wives) have no fancy illusions and are aware of the consequences of their actions. All this makes them the humans that they are…rather than portraying them as just means of to show a clichéd action packed drama.

Heat 1995 Movie Best Scene
Heat 1995 Movie Best Scene

Heat Movie Acting Review:

The characters of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro are very similar. Both are very good at what they do and know their craft well. Both do not know to do anything else other than what they are doing. Al doesn’t know anything else than being a good cop while DeNiro can’t do anything other than executing a good theft. Both can’t keep their women happy due to their nightmarish schedules and ‘living on the edge’ kinda existence. This similarity between them evokes a mutual respect for each other. More so from Al Pacino’s side. The scene where both confront each other over a cup of coffee is superb. Both know to answer each other and there you feel the ‘HEAT’ in the movie.

Chris (Val Kilmer) loves his wife Charlene too much to let her go. He will escape the cops but not without her. He does not care for the 30 secs principle.  And this love is what saves him eventually. Charlene who is fed up of his criminal ways saves him from the cop. Towards the end of the movie, McCauley (DeNiro) wants to settle one last score with Waingro. After that he would completely disappear from the crime scene with his girl. And that’s where he enters his doom. The plans go awry and when he sees heat around the corner, he does manage to say goodbye to his beloved within 30 seconds. What an irony…..Chris does not follow that principle of the crime world to say a goodbye to all his loved ones when he sees danger around the corner. But it’s exactly this his love that saves him. Where as McCauley sticks to his principles and meets the tragedy…

My verdict of Heat Movie:

This is what I feel about cinema in general-A movie might not always provide you with answers to your questions about life, existence, relationships, God, etc. The point is-does the film provoke you to ask ‘questions’? A good movie with its content, script, direction, acting, editing, music, etc., equips the viewer with a more thoughtful mind to be able to react in the right way to things happening around him.

 

Reviewed By: Pallavi Patil

Wonder 2017 Movie Review

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Movie: Wonder

Releasing Year: 2017

Director: Stephen Chbosky  

Writer/Screenplay: Jack Thorne, Steve Conrad, Stephen Chbosky

Country of Origin:U.S.A

Language: American English

 

Wonder 2017 Movie Review:

Having read and loved the book by RJ Palacio, I couldn’t wait for the movie even though most movies don’t match up to the book. Wonder, however, is a great movie. It is warm and funny, and emotional and lovely… Just like the book it’s based on.

Wonder Story-line:


The best and strongest part of the film is the cast. Each of the characters look perfect for the role. Julia Roberts plays the role of anxious loving mom perfectly and Owen Wilson is the funny encouraging dad, just the way it’s in the book.

At some places the video element has made the movie better than the book. I liked the background music. That and the references to the wookiee and man in the space suit added to the viewing pleasure. Also, I felt movie was able to capture Via’s sentiments better than the book at places.

However, there are a couple of places, I felt the movie felt short. I had pictured August’s face different and much worse than what was shown in the film. But, Jacob Tremblay put his heart and soul in the character and compensated for the mismatch by his awesome performance. Mr Tushman’s speech at the end of the book was way better than what they have covered in the movie. It didn’t give the kind of impact it did in the book. But, despite these little things Wonder is a fantastic movie. You may like it even better if you’re haven’t read the book.

 

Reviewed By – Aparna Kunal Jain

She manages a Facebook Group called “The Movie Club“…!  Join it to connect with Cinema enthusiasts from around the world.