Tag: movies

I recently watched Free Solo, 1917 and Greyhound. Here are my thoughts.

Free Solo

This was such a thrilling documentary. I have rarely used that adjective for a documentary. But this one is so very different. I cannot fathom someone’s possession for their passion can blind them to the risks rather conspicuous to the rest. I was aware of the free soloing as a form of climbing. What took me by surprise was the level of planning that goes into the preparation. In hindsight, it was foolish of me to think that wasn’t the case, that the act was spontaneous.

1917

I can’t think of a better way to captures the immediacy of war than how Sam Mendes does with 1917. The single-take narration grips one right from the beginning and never lets off even for a moment. I was with the characters throughout their journey, feeling their anxiety, their pain. I entered every new terrain, turned every dark corner equally uneasy. What Mendes and his cinematographer Roger Deakins manage to achieve is absolute brilliance. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and was left gasping by the end. A cinematic masterpiece.

Greyhound

Another war flick that, sure, aimed to be different. A fast-paced action thriller about battleships is not very common. However, the economical 75 minutes of the runtime itself felt too long. The fights felt repetitive and with no other thread to hold the plot together, it was easy to skip over. Tom Hanks sells the character though. However, I am tired now of seeing him play the perfect guy. He needs to play some grey characters now, someone with a few flaws.

Bonus – Quarantine Special

I also finally watched the Quarantine special episode of Mythic Quest. This is the best show on Apple TV+, period. And this special episode was exactly what I needed now — an understanding of what I and most of us are going through in current times. What’s commendable is that it does so without giving up on the hilarity. As the episode came to the climax, it had me jumping with momentary joy. With my eyes full of happy, hopeful tears and my fists clenched, [spoiler alert] I joined Ian to shout out loud “Fuck you Coronavirus”.

I just watched Hamilton and am left breathless — what an experience this was. I’m so glad that Disney decided to release it digitally worldwide so that the people world over can witness the extravaganza. There were so many moments when I was singing and swaying along or sitting stunned in my seat mesmerized. No doubt, the live experience would be many-fold grander. But there’s no chance in hell I would get to see this show live ever. At least, I can appreciate now why it is praised so much by anyone who has been lucky to experience this live.

I never knew I would enjoy a Broadway Musical so much. This makes me wonder what else have I missed. Are there any such great shows that are available to stream? I do want to explore and watch more from this form of art too.

Every Pixar Movie Ranked *

Pixar Animation Studios

Vox Media has an updating list of all the Pixar movies, ranked by their Culture team from worst to best. They have been doing this since last year. So it is interesting to see the list updated with every Pixar release.

Since the release of its very first feature film, Toy Story, in 1995, Pixar has become one of Hollywood’s most celebrated animation studios. Ranging from superhero adventures to tales of a lonely robot on a post-apocalyptic Earth, the studio’s 22 movies to date have earned plaudits for being artistically adventurous and telling stories ostensibly aimed at kids that have just as many adult fans. 

Yep, absolutely. I whole-heartedly agree. I and my family had recently watched Onward and had thoroughly enjoyed it. So when Vox says lets take a look back at the high highs and low-ish lows of the acclaimed animation studio”, even I want to attempt that. I do not agree with Vox Culture team’s ranking. So I want to put my own rankings out there.

* Nope, not gonna do that. I can’t rank all of them. There are 22 — how can you ever say if The Bug’s Life is worse than Cars 2. So, I will just give out my top ten; this is not a commentary in any sense. I am not a film critic. I can’t explain why one is artistically better than the other. What I can say is why I like, nah, love each movie in here.

10. Cars (2006)

As far as I can recall, this was one of the early movies I saw from the Pixar studio and I was left completely mesmerized. It was also the first time I realized how emotional an animated movie can leave you. The story was wonderful, made me emotional at many moments. And it wove the same magic for my daughter. So this remains a special movie, to this day; doesn’t matter if it is actually a good movie or not.

9. Onward (2020)

We watched the one the most recently as we were stuck at home for more than 3 months. And the fun we had as a family throughout was completely unforgettable. It made us laugh, made us cry and at times even terrified. It made us forget about all the terrible news that was spread through the world outside — makes it a very special movie for me.

8. Monsters Inc. (2001)

Again, another of the early movies from Pixar. I wasn’t a parent then, but it made me aware for the first time what parenting would be. As I watched Sulley and Mike struggle to keep Boo safe, at the same time growing closer to her, it made me worried and equally excited for the parent that I was one day going to be. I fell in love with Boo as she expressed myriad of expressions through her toddler face.

7. Inside Out (2015)

This has to be one of the smartest and most creative animated movies ever made. Such a creative story stitched into a brilliant movie. The colours, the characters, their journeys alone and together. How they drove the central human character was fascinating. This was again a movie that made me realize what I need not do around my daughter as she reaches adolescence one day. The story was clever, the execution was top-notch and the emotional attachment was to the point.

6. Wall-E (2008)

Another clever movie from Pixar. The first half without any spoken words was absolutely brilliant. I still can’t fathom how the studio made us fall in love with a squarish droid. He doesn’t speak, he doesn’t have any human features. But he expressed so many emotions that many of the well-paid actors fail to do. Wall-E’s struggle to express his love for Eve had me root for this lovely droid throughout the movie. Wish humans didn’t arrive later in the movie to spoil what could have been the finest movie of all times.

5. Toy Story (1995)

Another movie that I watched way back in my teens when I had started to believe I had become too grown up to watch animated movies any more. Pixar prove me wrong — boy what a masterpiece this one is. A movie with a brilliant story that also teaches you so much. Still being so much fun at the same time. Toy Story completely defined the roadmap for future animated films — they had to cater to the kids and the adults with a kid within at the same time. This movie did it so perfectly.

4. Coco (2017)

I love music. And I love getting emotional while watching a movie. Especially if it weaves stories around families. So Coco fit just the right spots for me. Boy, oh boy. Such a wonderful ride it was. Those mesmerizing colours. The peppy, moving music. The story that has you gripped throughout. Coco was an experience of a kind. Again, such a meaningful movie that teaches you the importance of a family. I had a tear rolling down my cheek during the final reunion song.

3. Finding Nemo (2003)

Another film that touched my yet-to-be-a-parent’s heart. I was rooting for the worried, clown-fish dad throughout his transformation. And I can’t recall how many more times have I rooted for this guy since then. I watch this movie every now and then with my daughter. She loves it; she asks me many questions about what plays out in the movie. I pull her close to me into a hug and answer her to the best of my abilities. Knowing very well, that soon she too would want to explore more and I would have to stop being overprotective and let her do that. Anyway, see that’s what even thinking about this movie does to me.

2. Toy Story 3 (2010)

There’s just so much to love about this movie. The friendship, the bond that we’ve seen grow over the 3 movies, comes so close to a culmination here. Full of laughter. Full of life-lessons. Full of heartbreaks. This is one hell of a movie – not just an animated one. Period. As Woody looks at Andy walking away while sitting close to Bonny towards the end, am sobbing away with joy. There are so many plots here and each one betters the last. This one is a string of masterclass at film making, one after another.

1. Up (2009)

Just with that masterful opening montage, this one enters my top ten list any day. I had a lump in my throat right at the beginning. The movie follows it up with weaving such a beautiful story about Carl and his relation with Russel and the many friends he makes over their journey to Paradise Falls. I loved each character in this movie. Russel. Kevin. Dug. Even Muntz for that matter. The movie had me empathize with this antagonist too before he goes all bat-shit crazy, that is. And of course, finally Carl. I loved Carl so much that I had one character based on him in my fictional short story series. Up will always remain a very special movie for me.

Best Moments from other movies

There are of course many other movies from Pixar that didn’t make the list but have some brilliant scenes. When She Loved Me song from Toy Story 2. All the action sequence from The Incredibles. Speech on criticism and creativity in the finale from Ratatouille. These movies could very well have made the list, just for these scenes. But, for me, the others on the list are just very close. So these remain the honourable mentions.

Managed to book tickets to Endgame — boy, the craze for the movie is off the charts. In recent times, I’ve avoided the frenzied rush to the theaters. But I had to catch the end of this saga in all its glory with its most ardent fans, myself included. I join the frenzy, hence.

Experience watching Interstellar

So, I finally watched Interstellar yesterday; after days of, literally, closing ears and eyes on every mention and reference of this word. It is difficult, not to know anything you usually want to know first-hand about. No one else to blame though; I should not leave the decision of ruining a movie or a book to others. That call should stay only with me after experiencing it. This post is about my experience of watching the movie I waited so long for.

Experience, yes. About the movie, no. There are too many intelligent posts already written about it. Reviewing it, explaining it. The plot, the science, everything. This is not a post where I intend to do any of that. This is post where I intend to jot down my thoughts of going through an extravagant experience like Interstellar in India. I want to do this especially given I was watching a movie after a break of more than a year & half. I wanted to see how technical advances have improved, if so, the overall movie going experience.


So here it goes.

  1. Experience of booking a movie has improved since I last did it. Apps have improved a lot. I was pleasantly surprised when the app supported adding the movie ticket to Passbook as an event entry pass. Nice effect and effort of customizing the app to the platform it runs on. Surprisingly, and sadly, not many try to do that.

  2. But using the said pass at the movie theatres is still not possible. I searched for the machine or the person to whom I could flash the pass and enter without a physical ticket. Not possible yet, at least not at all the movie theatres. You still have to collect a physical ticket, show it to a person who tears a part of it & hands over what remains as a proof of your approved presence. They do have a machine to collect the tickets though. However anyone, with the booking id, can print the ticket without any validation. He, then, can flash it further as a valid entry pass. Plus it’s heading read Booked by Internet”. Sigh.

  3. Multiplexes continue to ruin the theatre experience in India. The aim to maximize the earnings out of the small retail spaces is punishing the viewers. Each Screen” has a maximum of 8-10 rows, with each sitting 15-20 folks. That limited is a Screen. In such small spaces, we have 3 tiers of convenience, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Like a regular middle class person, I selected the middle-tier. Surprisingly, the distribution is as any corporate evaluates its employees’ performance. 10% are awesome. 10% suck. All others are regular blokes who are just okiesh. Same was the case here; 1 row of platinum folks and 1 row of silver. In between the 8 rows of fools. Platinum folks sat with their necks held high, not because they paid more. But because they could hardly see what rolled on the screen without doing so. Then I do clearly recall a silver” person turning around and laughing at the golden” dummy sitting behind; pointing at his silliness to have paid more. Sigh.

  4. Because Screen”, the hall, is so small, the actual screen itself is made small. And so very close to the eyes. To be frank, except for the darkness and the silver bloke pointing & laughing at the dummy goldie, this was not that much a different experience than sitting a foot from my LED television at home. Interstellar deserved better. Multiplex are to know that. Sigh.

  5. Every movie is to have an intermission. After all , we believe in giving businesses to many. If there’s no intermission, how are the samosa, pop-corn walas to get their earnings? So a movie is abruptly stopped. Usually I feel every Hollywood movie-maker is aware of this fact; so I could find a logical break being put in every movie. But I think the person who is handed this responsibility uses it to break when he has to pee the most. Be it, then, at the most inopportune place, in middle of some secret revealing dialog. Who cares; he has pee to handle.

  6. People still chatter during the movie. That is after they have settled into their chairs after arriving late. Especially when in a group during a Hollywood flick. More so if the said group is all guys surrounded by another group of girls. Some smarty has to show off his knowledge or crack a foolish, unrelated joke. Happens.Every.Single.Time. I literally watched half the movie with my left ear closed to avoid one such Einstein explaining every single scene that unfolded on the screen.

  7. And then the usualities’. National anthem is still played, with half standing in respect and others poking there noses around. Head-shadows of late comers are still seen. Mobiles are still not on silent mode. Samosas and pop-corns are still money-wise costly and taste-wise cheap. Torch-bearers still enlighten the lost and side-tracked, searching for the seats. Sigh!


Anyway, Interstellar was a great movie; it deserves a better treatment than is accorded. Wish I had chosen a single screen theatre, booked a balcony ticket after standing hours in queue and experienced this marvel on a huge screen listening only to the whistle, and not chatter. Or else simply stayed home, catching it on my LED television. A foot away. Sigh!