In this landmark week of Chennai Express, where no Hollywood film has released in India, it’s been wonderful to see everyone buying overpriced movie tickets to see a movie they think sucks to update their Facebook statuses about how the movie sucks and why everyone is buying its overpriced tickets. But if you are one of the few strong-willed, self-respecting or fortuitous souls who’d much rather stab your own eyes than see a Rohit Shetty film, here are some DVD recommendations to get you through the week:
You probably recognise Michael Shannon as Man of Steel’s General Zod, also known as the guy who battled Superman in a climactic battle that was longer than the lifespan of Mukesh (of ‘Smoking Kills’ fame). Or, if you are a person of taste, you may know him from Revolutionary Road, Boardwalk Empire and Take Shelter. And if you too get the creeps by his natural face, or can imagine him most likely to be the physical embodiment of the monster under your beds, then Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman is just the movie for you.
Shannon plays the titular character in this dark and gritty biopic of mafia hitman Richard Kuklinski, who was so cold-blooded that they nicknamed him The Iceman. The film also stars Ray ‘I-can’t-stop-doing-gangster-films’ Liotta, David Schwimmer (yes, Ross! In a ponytail!), Chris Evans, James Franco and Winona Ryder, but epic cast aside, the film is worth watching just for Shannon’s superlative performance. Kuklinski probably wouldn’t have been able to play himself better.
Another movie with a great cast is the mumblecore-ish indie romcom, Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies, that stars Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson (New Girl’s Nick), Ron Livingston (Office Space), Anna Kendrick and Jason Sudeikis. A film literally about two drinking buddies, Kate (Wilde) and Luke (Johnson) who are each in a relationship, explores the dynamics of the age-old question, ‘Can a boy and a girl just be friends?’ by upping the ante and throwing into the mix two interesting elements: Beer, and Olivia Wilde’s hotness. Given the cast’s strong indie credentials (Johnson’s Safety Not Guaranteed was my favourite indie of last year, Kendrick’s 50/50 was my favourite indie of 2011), the film is good fun to hang out with. But if you get your buddies along, and play a drinking game where you drink beer for each time they drink it in the movie, an epic night is guaranteed.
But if you had to choose just one movie to watch this week, let that be South Korean gangster flick, New World, directed by Park Hoon-jung, the writer of I Saw The Devil (another crime film you *must* watch). About an undercover cop (Lee Jung-jae) planted in Korea’s biggest and deadliest crime syndicate, the film is a suave, masterful, suspense-filled and outstandingly plotted crime drama that raises questions about loyalty, ethics, honour and duty. The film is so good that there’s a good bet that somewhere, Sanjay Gupta is plotting an ‘inspired’ version of it.
There are trailers and then there are trailers that make the world a better place just by being released. The trailer of CBGB, a film by Randall Miller, about a cult New York night club that gave birth to American punk music in the ‘70s, is one such trailer. Starring Professor Snape or Alan Rickman, as he is known to muggles, as the dry (of course) founder of CBGB, who led the revolution of original punk music, and co-starring Donal Logue, Ashley Greene, Johnny Galecki, Rupert Grint, Malin Ackerman, Stana Katic, Justin Bartha and then some, the movie looks like the *trippy* version of 24 Hours Party People!
Another awesome trailer out this week is the trailer of Her, Spike ‘Being John Malkovich’ Jonze’s science fiction romcom. About a man (Joaquin Phoenix in a role only Joaquin Phoenix can play) who falls in love with the voice of a computer operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson, so it makes perfect sense), the film promises to be at least as evocative and heartwarming as the episode of The Big Bang Theory where Raj falls in love with Siri.
George Clooney is back in writer-director mode with The Monuments Men, which looks like the World War II version of Ocean’s Eleven, but no, not like Inglorious Basterds. About a group of men tasked with saving pieces of art from being destroyed by the Nazi, the film co-stars Matt Damon, Bill Muray, John Goodman and Jean Dujardin. So yes, this will probably be nominated for Oscars too. Speaking of Oscar nominations, the full-length trailer of Ridley Scott’s The Counselor, starring (take a deep breath) Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz is out, and it leaves you wondering: HOW does Hollywood manage to get such epic casts together, when our multi-starrers star Abhishek Bachchan and Bobby Deol and are directed by Abbas-Mustan!?
The trailer of Lady Diana’s biopic, Diana is also out, starring Naomi Watts with a new nose, and Lost’s Sayyid (Naveen Andrews) in a role where he only cuts people because he’s a doctor. Paul Greengrass continues his long lasting tradition of showing America as the country so evil that in the trailer of his Tom Hanks starrer, Captain Phillips, Somalian pirates look humane in comparison. Finally, the new trailer of Thor: The Dark World is out too and in a completely novel and original move, the film promises to be so dark that it even has the word ‘dark’ in its title.
Bruce Willis will not be in The Expendables 3 because apparently, he’s “greedy and lazy” (according to Stallone). While I’m still pissed Anil Kapoor or Mallika Sherawat are not part of the film either, here’s what the rest of the cast of The Expendables 3 looks like (so far): Sylvester Stallone, Jason Stathom, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Jackie Chan, Wesley Snipes, Arnold Schwarzennegar, Kellan Lutz, Milla Jovovich and Steven Seagal. That’s all.
Which actor, Indian or otherwise, do you think should be part of the film? Sunny Deol? Suneil Shetty? Danny Denzongpa?
Note: This column first appeared on Firstpost.com on August 13, 2013
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