Category Archives: UK Movie Recos

My all-time favourites from the United Kingdom

The 30 Best Indies of 2015

#ICYMI:
THE 50 BEST TV SHOWS OF 2015: http://goo.gl/exsraC
THE 35 BEST FILMS OF 2015: http://goo.gl/Z796RR
THE 100 MOST AWAITED FILMS OF 2016: http://goo.gl/KLHbTP
THE 35 MOST AWAITED TV SERIES OF 2016: http://goo.gl/b20Hr7
THE COMPLETE POP CULTURE CALENDAR OF 2016 (WITH RELEASE DATES): http://goo.gl/JMWW7c


I love indie films and I especially love happy, feel-good, uplifting indie films, which are my favourite of all kinds of films. In 2015, I didn’t nearly see as many Indies as I’d have liked to but there are many that stayed with me. Here’s a list of 30 of my favourites; 20 of them happy and 10 others that are dark/edgy:

20 BEST HAPPY INDIES OF 2015

  1. SPRING: Because the film is about love at its purest and it made me want to write: Spring Movie Recommendation.
  2. ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL: Because ‘death’ as a coming of age device has never been captured so poignantly (with such a perfect comic tone).
  3. COMET: Because the creator of Mr. Robot, Sam Esmail, is just as good a director as he’s a showrunner (and this scifi romance is a must watch).
  4. AMIRA AND SAM: Because Martin Starr is an underrated indie rockstar and this is the year’s most unexpectedly awesome romcom for me.
  5. DOPE: Because it’ll be tough to find a better ode to hip hop culture of the ‘90s than this refreshing comic of age comedy.
  6. PRIDE: Because no one can make you smile and cry at the same time like the Brits (and this ode to the LGBT community will lift your spirits!).
  7. PAPER TOWNS: Because whatever Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber write is solid gold and this ode to teenage friendship is just that.
  8. MISTRESS AMERICA: Because Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach know something about today’s young urban 20-somethings that no one else does.
  9. HECTOR & THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS: Because it’s a Simon Pegg starring travel comedy about happiness and that’s SUCH an epic throughline.
  10. TOP FIVE: Because Chris Rock’s back and he gives us a spanking, fresh, all check-boxes ticked romcom that’s a blast in every scene.
  11. STANDBY: Because while Ireland’s Before Sunrise may be a long way away from reaching that level, but has enough charm to keep you smiling through its runtime.
  12. SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE: Because in the garb of a mainstream commercial romcom, Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie give you a beautiful, thoughtful love story about sex.
  13. THE REWRITE: Because Hugh Grant never gets old and this romcom, though totally missed by everyone, will take you to the genre’s good ol’ 90s.
  14. MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT: Because it’s got Emma Stone and Colin Firth and is directed by Woody Allen and do you need any more reason than that?
  15. NIGHT OWLS: Because there is something admirable about Adam Pally’s blabbermouth routine and Rosa Salazar is a firecracker on screen, which makes this is a great ‘night-in’ romcom.
  16. INFINITELY POLAR BEAR: Because Mark Ruffalo is such a fucking fantastic actor and he really needs to be in everything, so this lovely portrayal of bipolar disorder by him will make your heart swell.
  17. THE END OF THE TOUR: Because James Ponsoldt can make you feel for a stone if he wanted, so this five-days-in-the-life-of David Foster Wallace is stuffed with the feels.
  18. DEAR WHITE PEOPLE: Because a smart and funny satire about campus race relations is a refreshingly cool way of tackling the issue!
  19. WHILE WE’RE YOUNG: Because Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach know something about today’s not-so-young urban 30-somethings that no one else does.
  20. HAPPY CHRISTMAS: Because Joe Swanberg directs Lena Dunham, Anna Kendrick and Melanie Lysnkey and the result is indielicious.

 

10 BEST DARK INDIES OF 2015

  1. JOHN WICK: Because this is Keanuissance (Reevaissance?) at its kickass, brutal, violent, head-smashing, bone-breaking, batshit crazy best in a full blown action classic.
  2. EX-MACHINA: Because when three of the greatest young actors of today, Oscar Issac, Domnhall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander, come together for one scifi film, you know it’s going to be fantastic.
  3. ’71: Because the period of The Troubles always makes for gripping cinema and with Jack O’Conner and Richard Dormer leading the cast, it makes for thrilling cinema too.
  4. IRRATIONAL MAN: Because when Woody Allen does dark comedy he does it like no one else and when Joaquin Phoenix & Emma Stone team up, it’s a match like none else too.
  5. COP CAR: Because there is a reason Jon Watts got handpicked to direct the next Spiderman and it is all too clear in this terrific road thriller.
  6. THE GUEST: Because Dan Stevens breaking out of his Downton Abbey nice-guy routine is a how-to on ‘playing against type’ in this action thriller.
  7. CHI-RAQ: Because when Spike Lee gets it right, he gets it right and how, and this satire on Chicago street violence is his best work in a while.
  8. IT FOLLOWS: Because indie horror is a tough genre to get noticed in so when a movie manages to creep out of nowhere to creep you out, it instantly becomes memorable.
  9. THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT: Because the sheer number of young talent in this film is enough of a reason to watch it, and the film tops it up by being an uneasy, uncomfortable watch.
  10. BIG GAME: Because the Scandinavians know how to get their thrillers right and this low-budget actioner starring Samuel L. Jackson and a kid is a throwback to the good ol’ ‘80s.


#ICYMI:

THE 50 BEST TV SHOWS OF 2015: http://goo.gl/exsraC
THE 35 BEST FILMS OF 2015: http://goo.gl/Z796RR
THE 100 MOST AWAITED FILMS OF 2016: http://goo.gl/KLHbTP
THE 35 MOST AWAITED TV SERIES OF 2016: http://goo.gl/b20Hr7
THE COMPLETE POP CULTURE CALENDAR OF 2016 (WITH RELEASE DATES): http://goo.gl/JMWW7c


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© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

The 100 Most Awaited 2016 Movies

#ICYMI:
THE 35 MOST AWAITED TV SERIES OF 2016: http://goo.gl/b20Hr7
THE 50 BEST TV SHOWS OF 2015: http://goo.gl/exsraC
THE 30 BEST INDIES OF 2015: http://goo.gl/xfRuOk
THE 35 BEST FILMS OF 2015: http://goo.gl/Z796RR
THE COMPLETE POP CULTURE CALENDAR OF 2016 (WITH RELEASE DATES): http://goo.gl/JMWW7c

Note: This piece was written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoonfor Huffington Post. An edited version of the piece can be found here: https://goo.gl/04ZsS6
2016 is going to be an unbelievable year at the movies. There’s SO MUCH HAPPENING! DC, Marvel, Scorsese, Linklater, Kashyap, Bharadwaj and SO MUCH MORE. I have put together a list of MY most awaited 100 films below. There are movies I have left out on purpose because I may not be excited about them and movies that I have put in because I may be more excited about them than others. So having given the disclaimer that this is a list of films ‘I’ am most excited about, check out my 100 below:

THE 25 MOST ANTICIPATED HOLLYWOOD FILMS

  1. DEADPOOL: Because Ryan Reynolds and that trailer! Time to make the chimi-fucking-changas!
  2. BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE: Because BATMAN V SUPERMAN WHAT PART OF THAT DOES NOT EXCITE YOU!
  3. EVERYBODY WANTS SOME: Because Richard Linklater is back with a ‘spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused and I WANTS SOME.
  4. FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM: Because JK Rowling! And magic! And wizardry! Accio Release Date!
  5. THE NICE GUYS: Because the guy who made Kiss Kiss Bang Bang teams up with the guy who was in LA Confidential and the guy who was in Drive and this looks like it will be one of my all time favourites.
  6. SUICIDE SQUAD: Because, to quote David Ayer, ‘Enough of Good vs Evil, it’s time for Bad vs Evil.’ Also, JOKER + HARLEY QUINN = WIN!!
  7. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN: Because Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke and Peter Sarsgaard and Matt Bomer and Vince D’Onofrio in this remake!! WHYISTHISNOTMAKINGMORENEWS?!
  8. DOCTOR STRANGE: Because Benedict Cumberbatch is Doctor Strange and that’s the only reason I forgive Marvel for not casting Keanu Reeves in it.
  9. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR: Because it should have been the most exciting movie of the year but the trailer didn’t live up but I still have hopes because WARRRRRRR.
  10. X-MEN: APOCALYPSE: Because though I’m not a Bryan Singer fan, Oscar Isaac as the villain is SUCH FANTASTIC NEWS.
  11. KUNG FU PANDA 3: Because GET, SET, PO!!!
  12. BOURNE 5: Because Matt Damon is back! Paul Greengrass is back! Julia Stiles is back! I can’t stop with the exclamations!
  13. THE JUNGLE BOOK: Because even though I’m looking forward to Jungle Book: Origins more (because Andy Serkis), Bill Murray and Idris Elba on this makes it unmissable.
  14. WARCRAFT: Because though I haven’t played the game, Duncan Jones helming it makes me think that this will probably be better than anyone’s expecting this to be.
  15. THE CIRCLE: Because James Ponsoldt, an international treasure where I’m concerned, directs Tom Hanks, Emma Watson and John Boyega. How are more people not dying to see this!
  16. GAMBIT: Because Channing Tatum as a superhero is dope, yo.
  17. THE GREAT WALL: Because Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal star in a film directed by Yimou Zhang and this could totally be the event movie of the year.
  18. ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE: Because this is my favourite animated series of all time (yes, of ALL TIME).
  19. LA LA LAND: Because Whiplash director returns with a jazz musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and there is no way he could have topped himself on paper.
  20. PASSENGERS: Because America’s sweethearts Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence star so this better be the movie of the year.
  21. ZOOLANDER NO. 2: Because BLUE STEEL FACE (And that Benedict Cumberbatch cameo!).
  22. ASSASSIN’S CREED: Because Michael Fassbender stars and there is no reason greater than that.
  23. ARMS AND THE DUDES: Because Jonah Hill and Miles Teller together in a Todd Philips movie is bound to be the dude movie of the year.
  24. STAR TREK BEYOND: Because they should have ended with the last one but with Justin Lin attached, the series could Live Long and Prosper.
  25. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY: Because Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla was one of the worst blockbusters I’ve ever seen so I have no idea how this will turn out.


THE 15 MOST ANTICIPATED INDIAN FILMS

(NOTE: The most anticipated Indian film for me would be BANK CHOR since that’s the first film I’ve worked on as a Creative Producer and that releases SOON :D. The list below is movies besides Bank Chor, of course.)

  1. RANGOON: Because Vishal Bharadwaj is making a ‘Casablanca’ like love story featuring Kangana Ranaut along with Shahid ‘Kaminey’ Kapoor and Saif Ali ‘Langda Tyagi’ Khan.
  2. DANGAL: Because Aamir Khan.
  3. RAMAN RAGHAV 2.0: Because Anurag Kashyap is going back to his indie thriller roots with this one.
  4. AE DIL HAI MUSHKIL: Because Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma come together for a Karan Johar Film so this better be the romcom of the decade.
  5. FAN: Because have you seen Shah Rukh Khan’s Gaurav? I mean!!!!
  6. KAPOOR & SONS: Because Shakun Batra’s Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is one of my favourite Hindi films of the last five years and this one has Alia Bhatt so it will be a cracker.
  7. UDTA PUNJAB: Because Abhishek Chaubey has pulled in a stellar starcast in Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and KAREENA KAPOOR, set against the backdrop of the drug trade in Punjab.
  8. RAEES: Because SRK looks like a badass and him facing off against Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Farhan Akhtar is going to be a treat.
  9. KI & KA: Because the first stills look absolutely amazing and Balki looks set to charm the hell out of us.
  10. DHONI: Because Neeraj Pandey has not set a foot wrong so far and Sushant Singh Rajput is going to play Dhoni like a champ.
  11. MANMARZIYAN: Because I loved Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana and I can’t wiat to watch Ayushmann-Bhumi again on screen.
  12. MOHENJADARO: Because Ashutosh Gowarikar directs Hrithik Roshan again and hopefully this film will not be as long as the time between that age and ours.
  13. MIRZIYA: Because Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra is a fantastic director and from everything I’ve read about Harshvardan Kapoor, his sensibilities seem on point (he assisted Anurag Kashyap!).
  14. DINESH VIJAN’S UNTITLED FILM: Because after Dinesh Vijan broke up with Saif Ali Khan, the first two things he produced independently (Badlapur and Finding Fanny) were better than anything else he’s done before so I give him the benefit of doubt.
  15. BAAR BAAR DEKHO: Because even though this film has Katrina Kaif and that probably means it will end up sucking, it’s an Excel film by the writer of Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara and Dil Dhadakne Do, so I have my hopes high.


THE 10 MOST ANTICIPATED HOLLYWOOD DRAMAS

  1. SILENCE: Because Martin Scorsese directs Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson in this historical drama.
  2. THE BFG: Because Steven Spielberg is making a family film after ages and this one’s adapted from a Roald Dahl book!
  3. STORY OF YOUR LIFE: Because Denis Villeneuve (of being amazing fame) directs Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Michael Stuhlbarg in a sci fi drama about aliens landing on earth.
  4. THE FREE STATE OF JONES: Because Matthew McConaughey is starring in this civil war drama from the writer of Big and Seabiscuit.
  5. BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK: Because Ang Lee directs a script from Simon Beaufoy that stars a cast featuring Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart.
  6. THE ACCOUNTANT: Because the director of Warrior directs Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick in an action thriller and that’s all we need to know.
  7. DEMOLITION: Because the ever-dependable Jake Gyllenhaal costars with the ever-dependable Naomi Watts in a drama by Jean-Marc Vallee.
  8. SULLY: Because Clint Eastwood is still going strong at 85 and this time directs an autobiographical film starring Tom Hanks about a pilot who landed a plane on water, saving lives.
  9. MONEY MONSTER: Because Jodie Foster directs, George Clooney and Julia Roberts star, and it is a political thriller.
  10. SNOWDEN: Because it is a biographical drama from the king of biographical dramas, Oliver Stone, about Edward Snowden, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.


THE 10 MOST ANTICIPATED ‘SUMMER’ FILMS

  1. JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK: Because although not a summer release, Tom Cruise reunites with Edward Zwick after The Last Samurai… actually just because Tom Cruise.
  2. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS: Because I thoroughly enjoyed the first installment so let’s hope there’s more Cowabunga, Dude!
  3. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES: Because what a bloody insane cast with Matt Smith, Charles Dance, Jack Huston, Lena Headey, Sam Riley, and Lily James and what a crazy ass idea.
  4. THE HUNTSMAN – WINTER’S WAR: Because even though the first part sucked, this one has Emily Blunt (and Jessica Chastain!) and we all know Emily Blunt can do no wrong now.
  5. INFERNO: Because screw Dan Brown, anything Tom Hanks does is immensely watchable plus this has Irrfan Khan too.
  6. INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE: Because even though I’m sorely disappointed that this has no Will Smith, it’s got the same director and well, Jeff Goldblum again, so fingers crossed.
  7. THE LEGEND OF TARZAN: Because Margot Robbie as Jane!!!
  8. JUMANJI: Because our childhoods are back!
  9. NOW YOU SEE ME 2: Because basically they’ve got Daniel Radcliffe to star in another movie about magic and that deserves nothing but respect.
  10. BEN-HUR: Because in spite of zero buzz, Jack Huston as Ben-Hur is fascinating casting, and there’s also Morgan Freeman and Toby Kebell, so let’s hope it’s ‘epic’.


THE 10 MOST ANTICIPATED HOLLYWOOD THRILLERS

  1. HIGH-RISE: Because Ben Wheatley directs Tom Hiddlestone and Elisabeth Moss and a fantastic concept of class war in a high rise and I simply cannot wait.
  2. JOHN WICK 2: Because come on!
  3. TRIPLE 9: Because another fabulous trailer, Lawless director John Hillcoat at its helm and a crazy ass cast in Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus and Kate Winslet!
  4. MIDNIGHT SPECIAL: Because Jeff Nichols is special and when he teams up with Michael Shannon for a scifi thriller again it will be even more special and when the cast has Adam Driver, Joel Edgerton and and Kirsten Dunst, you know this is going to be a must watch.
  5. GREEN ROOM: Because it’s from the director of Blue Ruin, it’s got enormous festive buzz and because Patrick Stewart fights off Neo Nazis!
  6. FREE FIRE: Because there will be one more Ben Wheatley crime thriller this year with another amazing cast that includes Sharlto Copey, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson and Cillian Murphy.
  7. THE WITCH: Because it’s got better reviews than any other horror film in recent history.
  8. THE PURGE 3: Because this film has been my guilty pleasure for two installments now and I can bet part three will not let me down either.
  9. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN: Because the novel’s supposed to be as good as Gone Girl and this one stars Emily Blunt (who can do no wrong) and Rebecca Forguson of MI5 so this could be gooood.
  10. THE NEON DEMON: Because Nicolas Winding Refn directs Keanu Reeves in a thriller shot at 60 fps, are you kidding me!


THE 10 MOST ANTICIPATED HOLLYWOOD COMEDIES

  1. LIFE ON THE ROAD: Because Ricky Gervais’ David Brent is back and is on the road with a band so this will be AMAZING!!
  2. GHOSTBUSTERS: Because Paul Feig directs Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig again so this is obviously going to be a comedy classic.
  3. THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY: Because Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong play estranged brothers one of whom becomes a spy and the other remains a village idiot and then they meet again and this is just going to be hilarious amiright?
  4. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE: Because The Rock and Kevin Hart come together in an action comedy and I repeat: THE ROCK and KEVIN HART come together in an ACTION COMEDY!!
  5. KEANU: Because Key and Peele make their big screen debut so how are you not jumping with joy already?
  6. CONNER4REAL: Because The Lonely Island are writing and starring in this movie and there is no information about it except the certainty that it will be hilarious.
  7. RIDE ALONG 2: Because I loved part one and Kevin Hart and Ice Cube is the best buddy cop duo since Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon.
  8. KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES: Because Greg Mottola of Superbad fame directs a spy comedy starring Jon Hamm, Zach Galifianakis and Wonder Woman Gal Gadot!
  9. BAD MOMS: Because the guys who wrote The Hangover are making their debut movie and it stars Mila Kunis and Christina Applegate and Kristen Bell as bad moms so this could just be mean girls but with women.
  10. NEIGHBORS 2: Because even though Bad Santa 2 is also releasing this year and I’m personally looking forward to that more, Seth Rogen needs representation in a list like this and so he will get it!


THE 10 MOST ANTICIPATED HOLLYWOOD DRAMEDIES/ROMCOMS/INDIES

  1. HAIL, CEASOR: Because this is the final part of the ‘Numbskull’ trilogy feat. George Clooney by the Coen Brothers and to top that, it has Scarlett Johannson, Channing Tatum, Josh Brolin and Jonah Hill too!
  2. ME BEFORE YOU: Because my favourite screenwriters of this generation, Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter and writing this romantic drama and I have no doubt it will turn out amazing.
  3. GOING IN STYLE: Because Zach Braff directs a bank heist comedy featuring Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin!
  4. EDDIE THE EAGLE: Because Dexter Fletcher is an underrated gem of a Brit director (check out Wild Bill if you haven’t) and this may just be the feel good film of the year.
  5. WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT: Because Tina Fey is producing this war comedy that she is also starring in, plus it’s got Martin Freeman and Margot Robbie and Billy Bob Thornton!
  6. THE BRONZE: Because this raunchy sex comedy got tremendous reviews at Sundance last year and is the directorial debut of The Big Bang Theory’s Bernadette (Melissa Rausch)
  7. BRIDGET JONES’ BABY: Because Renee Zewelleger and Colin Firth are back again and let’s admit it, this is going to be a trip down good ol’ memory lane.
  8. MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2: Because Nia Vardalos and John Corbett are back again and let’s admit it, this is going to be a trip down good ol’ memory lane.
  9. TUMBLEDOWN: Because Jason Sudeikis has proved with his recent choices that he’s a capable leading man and this film has a lovely logline about love and death, and also stars the lovely Rebecca Hall.
  10. MASTERMINDS: Because though this film has been going through release hell, it’s got a crazy cast in Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis and Kristen Wiig so can’t wait!


THE 10 MOST ANTICIPATED HOLLYWOOD ANIMATED FILMS

  1. FINDING DORY: Because Finding Nemo.
  2. THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE: Because Angry Birds Movie!
  3. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS: Because great teaser.
  4. SAUSAGE PARTY: Because first animated film by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg!
  5. STORKS: Because voices by Key and Peele and Andy Samberg and Kelsey Grammar.
  6. KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS: Because what animation movie has the cast of Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes and George Takei!
  7. TROLLS: Because Anna Kendrick leads this and Anna Kendrick is the best.
  8. SING: Because it’s a music animated comedy featuring Matthew McConaughey, Scarlett Johannson and Reese Witherspoon (what!).
  9. MOANA: Because THE ROCK makes his animated debut.
  10. PETE’S DRAGON: Because it’s the remake of a much loved animated classic.


#ICYMI:

THE 35 MOST AWAITED TV SERIES OF 2016: http://goo.gl/b20Hr7
THE 50 BEST TV SHOWS OF 2015: http://goo.gl/exsraC
THE 30 BEST INDIES OF 2015: http://goo.gl/xfRuOk
THE 35 BEST FILMS OF 2015: http://goo.gl/Z796RR
THE COMPLETE POP CULTURE CALENDAR OF 2016 (WITH RELEASE DATES): http://goo.gl/JMWW7c

 

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Liked/disliked the piece? Think I’ve left out some films? Think my list is shit? Think I’m awesome or really, really not? Leave your comments below 🙂
Note: This piece first appeared in Huffington Post on January 14, 2016
Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.in/nikhil-taneja-/the-100-most-awaited-movies-of-2016/

Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

2012 Roundup: The 20 Best Films You’ve Not Seen

Having gone through innumerable ‘Best Of’ lists over the past month, there is only one conclusion to be made: There is no such thing as the “definitive” list of the best movies of the year, since each ‘Best Of’ list depends only on the movies the critic compiling the last has managed to see in the past year. Because thanks to multiple film festivals, quick DVD releases, wide indie distribution and.. *ahem*… the internet, there’s far more variety of outstanding movies available for consumption than what the mainstream media thrusts in our faces. But at the same time, with the amount of brilliant international television out there, it’s not possible to watch *everything* without ensuring  a clot in your brain.

So, having watched around 200 movies this year, here’s a helpful guide to the 20 best movies you have probably NOT seen this year, but you really must! This list includes independent cinema from across the world, including India, and is subjective and limited to the 200 or so movies I’ve seen, and which made me feel. There are probably many more fantastic indie movies I’ve missed, and I’d love to hear your suggestions and recommendations in the comments.

20. GOD BLESS AMERICA God Bless America was this year’s guilty pleasure. Written and directed by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, who has earlier directed The Jimmy Kimmel Show, the movie follows a miserable 40-something insurance salesman, who goes on a rampage to rid the society of its ills – including worthless reality television contestants and people cannot park decently – along with 16-year old accomplice who is tired of it all too. The movie is hilarious, bizarre, demented, over-the top, wacked out, and a giant middle finger to the world at large.

19. CABIN IN THE WOODS The craziest thing about this year was the fact that The Avengers was probably *not* Joss Whedon’s best film of the year. Cabin in the Woods, which was co-written and produced by Whedon and directed by Drew Goddard (frequent collaborator of JJ Abrams), took every horror movie cliché and turned it on its head to come up with probably the smartest horror film in a while. About a bunch of friends (including Chris ‘Thor’ Hemsworth) who travel to a remote cabin and start dying mysteriously, nothing is as it seems in this must-watch film.

18. HIGH SCHOOL High School is a laugh-out-loud stoner comedy set in high school… and hence the ingenious name. The film by writer-director John Stalberg is about a geek who accidentally gets stoned for the first time in his life one day before a drug test in his high school. To avoid his future from getting jeopardised, he decides to get his entire school stoned before the test. With a plot that crazy, the laughs come fast and loud, and Adrien Brody’s side-splitting turn as a drug dealer makes this movie one of the year’s funniest!

17. CHRONICLE What Whedon did to Cabin in the Wood, newbie writer-director Josh Trank, along with co-writer Max Landis, did to Chronicle. A movie about three friends who accidently gain superpowers, Chronicle brilliantly fuses together elements of superhero, sci-fi and found footage movies to give a refreshing, intelligent and fun take on a bunch of genres that have been so done-to-death that you puke on hearing the term “hand-held camera”.

16. GOOD NIGHT GOOD MORNING The Hindu film critic Sudhish Kamath’s sophomore film after 2006’s The Four-Letter Word, Good Night Good Morning was a fresh, inventive, witty and wonderfully crafted rom-com, that’s as far a cry from Bollywood as dreamy lead actress Seema Rahmani is from your typical Bollywood showpiece ‘heroine’. Co-written by Kamath and Shilpa Rathnam, the film is about an all-night conversation about love, life and all that in between, between two strangers trying to belong.

15. END OF WATCH David Ayer, who has in the past written Training Day and The Fast and the Furious, came out this year with End of Watch, a gritty cop drama-meets-buddy movie about two young officers who inadvertently cause events that make them a mob target. The film is polished yet stark, cinematic yet realistic and entertaining yet honest, and boasts of two of the finest performances of the year by Jake Gyllenhall and Michael Pena.

14. STARBUCK Before India came out with Vicky Donor, in 2011 Canada came out (no pun intended) with Starbuck (that had a wide theatrical release in 2012), a French comedy by writer-director Ken Scott about a forty-something slacker who discovers that he has 142 children from the sperm he had donated years ago. A funny, sweet, heartwarming and feel-good comedy, Starbuck is a unique film that’ll make you warm and fuzzy about family ironically through its theme of artificial insemination.

13. KSHAY Kshay is the unlikeliest of Indian movies you’d ever see in your life, and yet one of the most confident, well-crafted and riveting ones. A psychological thriller about a woman’s obsession with an unfinished sculpture, the film that’s been made on a shocking micro-budget of Rs 4 lakh, is an accomplished, brave and original piece of Indian cinema that’ll give you hope about the future of our movies, in the time of Bodyguard and Rowdy Rathore.

12. RUBY SPARKS The writing debut of actress Zoe Kazan, who also stars in the movie, Ruby Sparks is a romcom that blurs the line between reality and fantasy and ends up as one of smartest and sweetest films in recent times. Made by Little Miss Sunshine directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the film stars Paul Dano as a writer who falls in love with a character in his own novel – as she comes alive. A novel film about both love, loneliness and writing, Ruby Sparks is a wonderful watch.

11. THE RAID: REDEMPTION Indonesian action thriller The Raid: Redemption or Serbuan Maut, written and directed by Gareth Evans, is orgasmic-level of awesome where action movies go and is possibly one of the best you’d ever see. About a SWAT team trapped in a building with a crime lord and his ruthless killers, and featuring possibly one of the longest martial arts fight sequences ever, the hand-fights, raw energy and visceral violence in the film will leave you giddy for more.

10. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK Two years after his inspiring Oscar-nominated The Fighter, David O’Russell goes back to a genre only he does in a manner quirky and smart enough to spawn its own genre – the comedy drama. Silver Linings Playbook is a family drama, a romcom, a character study as well as an ode to the dysfunctional people and relationships in life all rolled into a fun, honest film with delightful performances by Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Anupam Kher.

9. SLEEPWALK WITH ME The debut film of writer-director and lead actor Mike Birbiglia, Sleepwalk With Me follows a struggling comedian who tries to get noticed at the cost of a long romance and regular sleep. The film is one of the year’s most amusing and likeable, and only uses humour as a garb to say meaningful and intelligent things about relationships that are always best said funny.

8. HOLY MOTORS Holy Motors is a one-of-its kind bizarre, inventive, crazy, random and awesome movies of the year that’ll give you an experience you rarely have at the movies. About a day in the life of Monsieur Oscar (an exceptional Dennis Lavant), who goes from being a beggar to an assassin and dons many other avatars through the course of the film, Holy Motors entertains, bewilders and thrills as Leos Carax lives up to his reputation of an auteur.

7. LIBERAL ARTS How I Met Your Mother actor Josh Radnor’s follow up to his charming Sundance-winner Happythankyoumoreplease, Liberal Arts is an even more enchanting, assured, intelligent and feel-good take on love and relationships. A film reminiscent of Midnight in Paris in its celebration of nostalgia, conversations and the liberal arts, the movie is exactly what you need to put a smile on your face.

6. JAGTEN One of the year’s most brilliant films, Jagten (The Hunt) is a tense, taut and terrifying psychological drama about a man wrongly accused of sexual abuse and the consequent mass hysteria that endangers his life. A collaboration between two of Denmark’s contemporary cinematic greats – director Thomas Vinterberg and actor Mads Mikkelsen, Jagten is a powerful film that will make you think as much as it thrills.

5. EK MAIN AUR EKK TU Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is only a Karan Johar production in name and budget, but its heart and soul is as indie as you could find. The debut film of writer-director Shakun Batra, EMAET is about two weeks in the life of its uptight, troubled and pushover protagonist as he meets a quirky, confident girl who teaches him about life and living. A refreshing, uplifting and happy film about love and relationships by a director who has nothing but a bright future ahead.

4. THE INTOUCHABLES A French comedy-drama about friendship, The Intouchables is based on the true-story about the unlikely camaraderie and bond that’s forged between a quadriplegic millionaire and his caretaker, an ex-con. The film about hope, trust and possibility, does for disability what few others have ever managed by driving home the pointing that… it really doesn’t matter. But it does so in a hilarious, irreverent and loveable manner, ending up as one of the movies of the year.

3. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD Writer-director Benh Zeitlin’s debut film, Beasts of the Southern Wild, is a beautiful, moving and inspiring tale about the defiance, optimism and courage of a six-year old girl in the face of certain doom. One of the most polished, poised and powerful feature film debuts in a while, the movie will make you feel like few others, and has a heart like no other.

2. WILD BILL English actor Dexter Fletcher (best known for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) delivers a fantastic, enjoyable and profound debut film about the relationship of an ex-con with his two sons who were abandoned by both him and his wife. A smart, entertaining, well-acted and beautifully-crafted crime drama about life and relationships amongst people who rarely have either, Wild Bill is one of the best Brit films you’d seen in recent times.

1. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED Undoubtedly my favourite film of the year, Safety Not Guaranteed is about three magazine employees who travel to a small town to interview a guy who placed an ad looking for a companion to time travel with. But it’s not just the wacky premise that the film is a must-watch for. The film is essentially about friendship, about a sense of belonging, about hope, about the power of belief, about magic and about the fact that miracles do happen, if you want them bad enough to!

10 Other Notable Indies:  Valley of Saints, Teddy Bear, Smashed, The Sapphires, Pitch Perfect, Moonrise Kingdom, Goon, Detachment, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

10 Notable Mainstream Films: Argo, Cloud Atlas, The Hobbit: An Unforgettable Journey, Life Of Pi, 21 Jump Street, The Dictator, The Dark Knight Rises, Project X, Looper and Ted.

5 Notable Documentaries: Supermen of Malegaon, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, The Imposter, This is Not A Film and Indie Game: The Movie.

Note: This column first appeared on Firstpost.com on December 31, 2013

Link: http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/the-20-best-films-you-have-not-seen-in-2012-574297.html
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

Hollywood Bowl #5: Telluride Festival 2013 Roundup

On its 40th anniversary, the Telluride Film Festival (TFF) strengthened its reputation as one of earliest Oscar predictors in the world today. The festival, which is located in the small mining town of Telluride in Colorado, USA, was the first one to showcase the 2013 Best Picture Oscar winner, Argo, last year, and in its earlier avatars, premiered a host of other Oscar nominees and winners, including The King’s Speech, The Descendants, Slumdog Millionaire and Brokeback Mountain.

While these films may have their ‘world premieres’ later at bigger festivals like the Venice Film Festival or The Toronto Film Festival with the red carpets and all the razzmatazz that comes with it, with what it calls ‘sneak peeks’, TFF has been instrumental in giving Oscar voters and pundits an early heads up on the films that stand strong chances of nominations. That’s because TFF has now started attracting a strong audience of Academy Awards voters every year as attendees, who are both here to catch the early Oscar buzz, and by being there, contributing to it.

TFF is also a rare festival in that it doesn’t reveal its lineup of films until just a day before the festival, and has thus, in a strange way, has become the cult indie fest that relies on its cultivated loyal fan following to populate itself every year. And this year, the festival’s followers got more than their money’s worth with some of the most anticipated films of the year showing at TFF before their official world premieres, including 12 Years a Slave, Prisoners and Gravity. Here’s a look at some of the films that made the most noise at the recently-concluded TFF, 2013:

  1. 12 Years a Slave

London-based filmmaker Steve McQueen, who has twice missed Best Picture Oscar nominations for his critically acclaimed films, Hunger (2008) and Shame (2011), can be rest assured a nomination this time, and possibly even a win, if raving reviews and insane buzz around his new film, 12 Years a Slave, are any indication. The film, a historical drama based on the life of a free black man who has kidnapped and sold into slavery, has received unequivocal acclaim, with critics predicting Oscars (not just nominations) for lead actor Chiwetel Ejifor (American Gangster, Love Actually) for his heartbreaking performance and for director McQueen himself for what is being touted as the finest movie ever directed on slavery. The film also stars Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch and Paul Giamatti, so you have all reasons to be excited!

2. Gravity

Being hailed as one of the most visually immersive cinematic experiences ever, the 3D thriller Gravity, about two astronauts trying to survive outer space after an accident, is also most likely to nab multiple Oscar nominations this season. Starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock and directed by Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men and Y Tu Mama Tambien), the film has elicited awe from critics, audiences and even director James Cameron, who called it the “best space film ever made”.  With its supposedly unparalleled use of 3D and the strength of Bullock’s harrowing performance, critics are predicting that this could be Bullock’s second Oscar win after Blind Side (2009).

3. Prisoners

While critics are divided over whether or not Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s English-language debut, Prisoners, is going to bag an Oscar nomination, they are certain of one thing: the film sees career-best performances from actors Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal.  A crime thriller about a father (Jackman) who will go to any lengths to find his kidnapped daughter, even if it requires him to be at odds with a police detective (Gyllenhaal), the film is being compared to the likes of David Fincher’s Se7en and Zodiac, and even Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River. The film’s script, by Aaron Guzikowski, was long listed as one of Hollywood’s best unproduced scripts.

4. Nebraska

Director Alexander Payne’s (Sideways, The Descendants) new film, the black and white road trip drama-comedy about a troubled father-son relationship, had earlier premiered at The Cannes Film Festival 2013 and earned decent reviews, but its reception at TFF elevated it to being a rather special film. Bruce Dern, who played the alcoholic father to Will Forte’s son in the film, has already won the Best Actor award at Cannes, but with the buzz that the film generated – some even calling it the Best Film at TFF – he seems to be a likely Oscar contender and the film itself could surprise with an Oscar nomination, like Payne’s The Descendants did in 2011.

5. Under The Skin

A film that polarized audiences and critics alike at TFF was Sexy Beast director’s new film, Under The Skin, which stars Scarlett Johannson as a seductive alien. While everyone agreed that the film was distinctly original and that Johannson is outstanding in her unnerving portrayal of the alien, the film has been called everything from ‘silly’ to being a ‘cult’ film.

6. Starred Up

Another father-son story that received much acclaim at TFF was director David Mackenzie’s (Young Adam, Spread) brutal prison drama film about a violent teenager (Jack O’Connell) who’d much rather stay behind bars to be with his father (Ben Medhelson), than get out into the real world. Critics believe that the film, which they likened to Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet, has managed to find the fine line between an emotional family drama and a starkly realistic incarceration movie, with a career-making performance by O’Connell.

7. Salinger

Shane Salerno’s documentary, Salinger, about JD Salinger, author of the cult novel, Catcher in the Rye, became one of the most talked about events of TFF. The film about the reclusive author who disappeared from the public eye for 45 years, passing away in 2010, revealed that the author’s private work will be published posthumously in 2015, which is possibly one of the most important literary announcements of the year. The documentary itself received mixed reviews, for the fact that the film gathered its footage and pictures by intruding into the privacy of the man who wanted nothing but to remain private.

8. Labor Day

Up In The Air and Juno director Jason Reitman’s new film is an emotional love story about an escaped convict (Josh Brolin) who takes refuge – and then kidnaps – a lonely single mother (Kate Winslet) and her son. While critics were somewhat divided over whether the romance is able to shine through the suspenseful tone of the movie, Reitman has received universal acclaim for his most mature and powerful directorial attempt yet, and that, of course, Winslet is eternally brilliant.

9. The Invisible Woman

Actor Ralph Fiennes followed up his directorial debut, war epic Coriolanus, with a period drama The Invisible Woman, about the secret relationship of author Charles Dickens (played by Fiennes) with a younger woman (played by Felicity Jones), in the last few years of his life. While Coriolanus wasn’t lapped up the critics, this time around Fiennes is being praised for his exceptional direction of the movie, and for extracting a career-making performance out of Jones (Like Crazy).

10. The Lunchbox

After getting fantastic reviews at Cannes 2013, Indian director Ritesh Batra’s debut film, The Lunchbox, starring Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddique and Nimrat Kaur, started gaining momentum for being a potential Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee. Almost every important publication from The Hollywood Reporter to The Wall Street Journal called the film charming and endearing and counted it amongst their favourite films at the fest. The film releases on September 22 in India, and is easily a must-watch.

Some of the other highlights of the festival include: Hayao Miyazaki’s final film before retirement, The Wind Rises, an animation film based on the life of a World War II fighter plane designer; Pawel Pawlikowski’s Polish-language film, Ida, a sincere 1960s drama about an 18-year-old orphan in the backdrop of communist Poland; the 26-year-old granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola, Gia Coppola’s debut film, Paolo Alto, on teenage angst, based on James Franco’s book of the same name; Asghar Farhadi’s follow up to the Oscar-winning A Separation, relationship drama The Past; Penn and Teller’s provocative documentary Tim’s Vemeer exploring the relationship between art and technology, JC Chandor’s survival film about a man lost at sea, starring Robert Redford; Israeli filmmaker Yuval Adler’s thriller on the Israel-Palestine conflict, Bethlehem and Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland’s three-part HBO miniseries about 1969’s Prague Spring.  Two Cannes winners, Inside Llewyn Davis and Blue is the Warmest Color continued receiving rave reviews at TFF too.

 

Note: This column first appeared on Firstpost.com on September 10, 2013

Link: http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/hollywood-bowl-telluride-film-festival-tff-roundup-1097961.html
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

Hollywood Bowl #4: We’re The Millers, Safety Not Guaranteed, Seven Psychopaths, Drug Wars

We’re The Millers released this week and there’s only one thing you should know: Jennifer Aniston plays a stripper in the film. Let me repeat that in case your brains exploded with that information: Jennifer Aniston plays a stripper in the film. And yes, she has enough sequences in the film (that are, amazingly, left uncensored by our censor boards) to justify her profession. If you are a man, this is probably all you need to know to go watch We’re The Millers NOW.

In case you are a woman, or a man who clearly doesn’t know what’s good for him, We’re the Millers is also one of the funniest movies out this year, after The Heat, of course. Filled with massively inappropriate humour that is offensive to just about everybody (and hence, hilarious), We’re the Millers is a road trip movie about a drug dealer (Jason Sudeikis) who hires a stripper, a homeless girl (Emma Roberts) and a kid in his building (Will Poulter) to smuggle drugs across the US-Mexico border. The movie’s script brings out every comedy cliché in the book, but the brilliant cast delivers them so well, it’s hard to stop laughing.

Will Poulter (the star of two of the British indie films of the last decade, Wild Bill and Son of Rambow) is easily the best thing about the movie (apart from Aniston’s anti-ageing body, obviously) and with his hilarious performance, guarantees for himself a long career of frat pack comedies, once Vince Vaughn finally realizes he’s too old for this s**t.

Two other films released this week: Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, and Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and they are exactly as clunky as their names. Percy Jackson is still a decent-ish watch, merely because of the presence of Nathan Fillion, who makes anything a decent-ish watch, merely because of his presence (although Stanley Tucci is pretty damn good too). And while Mortal Bones had a better cast on paper, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Lena Headey, Robert Sheehan and the like joining in, at a length of 2 hours plus, the movie is 2 hours longer than it needed to be.

 

DVD Roundup

Undoubtedly my favourite film that’s out on DVD this year, Safety Not Guaranteed is about three magazine employees who travel to a small town to interview a guy who placed an ad looking for a companion to time travel with. It’s not just the wacky premise (that’s based on a true incident, by the way) that the film is a must-watch for.  Aubrey Plaza is indie Jennifer Lawrence level-awesome, and Jake M. Johnson (New Girl’s Nick) is downright hilarious and should do a lot more movies. There’s also an Indian kid making his debut, and Karan Soni is far better than the clichéd love-less nerd role that he plays. The script by Derek Connolly is genuinely one of the funniest, most hopeful, and strangely moving you’d come across, and Colin Trevorrow’s assured direction has landed him the job of directing Jurassic Park IV. Don’t miss it!

Another comedy that should be watched just on the street cred of the people involved is the British indie flick, Seven Psychopaths, which is directed by the outstanding In Bruges director, Martin McDonagh and has a stunning cast that includes Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken. A black comedy about seven psychopaths (with the most awesome reasons for being so), the movie is as original, unique, disruptive and mad as they come.  About a struggling screenwriter who (Farrell) who gets entangled with the mob because of his psychopath friends, this Tarantino-esque movie’s going to make you laugh and leave you in awe.

Hong Kong-based director Johnnie To’s new crime and underworld film, Drug War is out, and though it’s not as fantastic as some of his other gangster films like Election, it’s a perfectly good time at the movies. About a cartel boss who is arrested in a raid, the film takes on the usual crime themes of betrayals and survival in its own unique way: a mix of equal part art and equal part pulp. One and a half hours of a solid action thriller.

 

Trailer roundup

Just a few decent trailers released over the week till yesterday, but today the internet was bombarded with awesomeness. You need to watch the trailer of Under the Skin to realize why there can never be enough horror films. British director Jonathan Glazer’s (of Sexy Beast fame) creepy-as-hell nod to the Alien movies, starring Scarlett Johansson as the alien in human form is going to leave you afraid to see more, and yet want it desperately, at the same time.

A film about Allen Ginsberg and Lucien Carr, that also brings to life Jack Kerouc and William Boroughs, is probably every beat generation fan’s wet dream. Exciting new talent Dane DeHaan stars along with Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) in Kill Your Darlings, in what promises to be a heady movie about a heady time in literary history (with a heady trailer to boot). 

And then there is Neighbors. From Nicholas Stoller, the director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek, here comes your new R-rated comedy starring Seth Rogen *yawn*. But wait, does this actually look funny or does it actually look funny? A film where Zac Efron is the douchebag to Rogen and Rose Byrne’s mellow husband-wife couple? Also starring Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz Plasse, Lisa Kudrow and Jake M. Johnson and Carla Gallo in what seems like a battle of the generations? Yes, please!

A film that could potentially be Matthew McConaughey’s genuine shot at an Oscar, Dallas Buyers Club (Directed by C.R.A.Z.Y. director Jean-Marc Vallee) about a Dallas cowboy who contracts AIDS and then illegally helps treat people with HIV, genuinely looks like the kind of movie we’ll all be talking about for long. Check it out.

Also out: British indie crime flick, The Rise, starring the who’s who of young Brit talent, from Luke Treadaway to Iwan Rheon; James Franco’s weird teaser for his next as director, Child of God; Bounty Killer, a B-movie that looks quite mad;  The Turning, a collection of short stories with a trailer of short shots that have no meaning whatsoever, and Ass Backwards, one of those Sundance comedies that are supposed to be heartwarming, but, umm, aren’t.

 

Note: This column first appeared on Firstpost.com on August 29, 2013

Link: http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/hollywood-bowl-anistons-stripper-act-and-mcdonaghs-seven-psychopaths-1086981.html
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

Hollywood Bowl #3: jOBS, Pain and Gain, Trance, Liberal Arts

After a two week lull at the cinemas, you’d expect more of a strike back by Hollywood this weekend. But studios still stayed clear of releasing a big movie this weekend, even as Chennai Express piled on more money in three weeks than Rohit Shetty has spent on car explosions in his lifetime… which is a LOT.

Ashton Kutcher’s indie film, jOBS, was released with much fanfare, though, but India’s surprising interest in Kutcher didn’t stop it from being the movie that Apple fanboys would be glad that Steve Jobs isn’t here to see. Because, let’s be honest, even if Ashton Kutcher was like the long-lost twin of Steve Jobs, he could never be Steve Jobs. Because he is Ashton Kutcher. And that’s probably why Kutcher’s also produced the film: because no sane man would’ve ever cast that dude from classics like Dude, Where’s My Car!, Guess Who, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, in a biopic of the world’s greatest tech idol.

jOBS, the movie, fails at its most basic level, because it is clearly just a story of Kutcher trying to be Jobs. And where Kutcher does try his heartfelt best to rise to the occasion, the script puts him in his place, just like Jobs did to everyone else, because he was mean and because that’s all the film tells us. Pirates of the Silicon Valley still remains the best Steve Jobs movie but that may soon change when Aaron Sorkin finally finishes writing his version of Jobs’ life. (Please let them cast Noah Wyle for it, please!)

Priyanka Chopra’s voice starred in animation flick Planes this weekend but, and I’ve been waiting to use this pun ever since I saw it, the film doesn’t take take off. The Hollywood film to watch this week is Kick-Ass 2 and you can read my review here (please put link). Indie maverick Q’s (of Gandu fame) ‘Tagore on an acid trip’ film Tasher Desh has also released, and it’s a must watch if only to see Q annihilating the rules of Indian cinema film-by-film.

DVD Roundup

I like Michael Bay. No, he is not Hollywood’s Sajid Khan, because Khan, in his life, won’t be able to come up with a kickass action comedy like Bad Boys, let alone a mega-budget film franchise like Transformers that is valued at the same amount of money as the continent of Africa. Bay makes the most popcorn of popcorn films and those films have Megan Fox or some sweet, sweet action, so I genuinely have no grudges from him.  And when, every once a while, he makes a film like Pain and Gain, I like him even more.

Pain and Gain is Bay’s first attempt at a black comedy and it’s a damn good one at that. Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie took pay cuts along with Bay to make this low-budget crime-comedy about three bodybuilders who kidnap a rich businessman to extort his money, but obviously, things go wrong. The film is based on a true story and it is well-acted, absurd, hilarious, dark – almost bordering on noir… almost! – and consistently interesting. Check it out and for once, you may not have to leave your brains behind.

A film where you’d definitely need your brains is Danny Boyle’s indie psychological thriller, Trance, starring the very talented James McAvoy, the very fetching Rosario Dawson and the very married to Monica Bellucci Vincent Cassel. A mind-bender on the lines of a trademark Christopher Nolan puzzle, Trance may not be the best in the genre but it’s fascinating for what it is: one of the best contemporary British directors’ take on mind-benders. Oh, and did I mention that Dawson reprises Alexander here?

I have plugged this film before in one of my columns but since the DVD of the film released this year, I will plug it again: Josh Radnor is awesome. Mary Elizabeth Olsen is awesome. And Liberal Arts is awesome. If you thought that How I Met Your Mother’s Ted Mosby is Radnor’s swan song, you have not see his directorial debut, Happythankyoumoreplease. And you certainly have not seen the brilliant Liberal Arts, which is as good an indie rites-of-passage comedy drama, as any before. Watch it.

Trailer Roundup

LOTS of very interesting trailers this week, but the one I’m most excited about is About Time, Richard Curtis’ third film as a director after Pirate Radio and the best romantic comedy of all time, Love Actually. The writer behind Black Adder, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral and basically, Hugh Grant’s entire career, is back with a romcom about a time-travelling man in love, so this movie is going to be fantastic (all the more since Curtis claims this may be his last).

The Coen Brothers are not interested in slowing down as writer-directors, although the same cannot be said about their films, which consistently remain slower than ever. Inside Llewyn Davis also seems to be a slow film about a slow folk singer-songwriter (Drive’s Oscar Isaac) in the 1960s, the slowest decade in USA’s slow-moving academy of the time. So obviously, the film’s going to be great!

The best looking trailer of the week’s award goes to the PG trailer of James McAvoy’s next film, Filth, directed by Scottish director Jon S Baird (of little-known gem, Cass fame). The film could not *be* any more Scottish (read: awesome) with sex, drugs and a rock-n-roll trailer, and they’ve managed all that in a PG trailer! There’s also Paul W.S. Anderson’s Pompeii, a trailer that may best be described as Dante’s Peak-meets-Gladiator, or the trailer where we find out that Jon Snow (Game of Thrones actor Kit Harrington) has abs.

But the trailer I found most interesting this week is Mark ‘The Hulk’ Ruffalo’s Thanks for Sharing. A comedy drama about sex-addicts (see what I mean?) with a cast that includes Gwyneth Paltrow (looking STUNNING), Tim Robbins, Josh Gad and Joely Richardson, this one looks like an indie ‘smash’ hit (yes, that was an Avengers pun). There’s also the teaser trailer of Stranger, JJ Abrams ‘Mystery’ Project, and since we have no clue what it’s about or that Abrams was ever making such a movie, it meets all criterion for interesting too.

In other trailers, there’s Divergent, which is basically The Hunger Games with Shailene Woodey (The Descendants) and which will probably make just as much money. +1, a Groundhog Day gone wrong thriller set in a college party (yes I came up with that), looks quite neat and so does The Grandmaster, a movie about Bruce Lee’s master, that is presented by Martin Scorsese. Finally, there’s The Book Thief, starring Geoffrey Rush, and All The Boys Love Mandy Lane, my favourite indie director Jonathan Levine’s horror debut. Check em’ out

BATMAN

The internet exploded when Ben Affleck was announced as Batman, who, according to news, may be signed on for as many as 13 movies (though the real number may be close to 12). Personally, I think it’s a great idea. He’s the guy behind Argo, The Town and Gone Baby Gone, and I think he deserves a chance to wash away the sins of Daredevil. Also, what if Ashton Kutcher bought the Batman franchise and then played him himself? Yes, it could’ve been worse!

What do you think of Affleck as Batman? Who should’ve played him instead? (I still think Michael Fassbender was the best bet)

 

Note: This column first appeared on Firstpost.com on August 29, 2013

Link: http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/hollywood-bowl-ashton-kutcher-is-not-steve-jobs-and-richard-curtis-is-back-1069001.html
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

Hollywood Bowl #2: The Place Among the Pines, Cockneys vs Zombies, Warm Bodies

So once upon a time in Mumbai dobaara, no Hollywood film released on the weekend because Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara! released on the weekend. Apart from the innovative new spelling of the alphabet ‘a’, the film itself is *so* different that the ‘80s have apparently called Milan Luthria and demanded to have their decade back. If you too wish that you were born 70 years ago just so that you would’ve had better films to watch when growing up, here are some DVD recommendations from around the world to reinstate your faith in the movies:

DVD Roundup:

If you have seen Blue Valentine, then you’ve probably been desperately looking forward to seeing how director Derek Cianfrance will again make us feel feelings we didn’t know we could feel. While Cianfrance’s new film, The Place Among The Pines, about the twists of fate and the consequences when two lives accidentally collide, is not as good, it is still a great movie, and surprisingly, for a reason more than the presence of Ryan Godsling (err, not a typo): the presence of Bradley Cooper.

Yes, I did have mini brain convulsions when writing that sentence, but the fact remains that in a movie that stars both Gosling and Cooper, we are predisposed to consider Cooper too pretty to be a good actor, instead of Gosling. But the fact is, Academy-nominated Cooper (more convulsions happening) knows his sh*t, and this movie will make you believe it. Cooper steals the show in this uniquely structured crime thriller-drama that deals with themes of destiny, family and karma in powerful and thought-provoking ways you’d not have expected. Watch the film to also find out why Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) is one of the most exciting young actors today, and is most likely to get a lot of action in the days to come.

Speaking of action, but of the actual action kind, you really *do* need to watch this extremely cool British B-movie movie that’s probably the funniest take on zombies since Shaun of the Dead. Matthias Hoene’s Cockneys Vs Zombies is exactly as awesome as it sounds: a bunch of lowlife East-Enders, including some hilarious oldies from a retirement home, decide to not die at the hands of those wretched zombies who, in most movies, seem to have a deep-rooted love for eating British brains (considering everyone from Benedict Cumberbatch to Sir Ian McKellen, who can blame them!) The oddball heroes of the film are lead by Alan Ford, who you know as Brick Top from Snatch and Alan from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The man is 75 years old but woah, can he kick some ass!

And then there’s Warm Bodies, directed by one of my favourite contemporary young directors today. Jonathan Levine has made three movies before this, two of which are among the best films I’ve seen in the last decade: Ben Kingsley-starrer The Wackness and Joseph Gordon-Levitt starrer 50/50. Those films are reasons enough to never miss a Levine film again, but the quirky plot of Warm bodies – a zombie who falls in love with a human – should convince you further. Yes, a zombie romcom, and like the meme goes, still a better movie than Twilight!

Trailer Roundup:

‘Have you seen Don Jon yet?’ That’s probably the question that every movie buff will be asking every other movie buff six months from now, when Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut is out on, err, accessible platforms. Till then, the trailer of this modern day interpretation of Don Juan – about a Jersey Shore dude (Gordon-Levitt) who is addicted to porn and falls in love with a hottie (Scarlett Johanssan), should keep you interested. This was the most buzzed-about comedy at Sundance this year, so add it to your list of must-watch films.

Another film that really seems to be a hilarious must-watch is director Ask Hasselbach’s Danish superhero comedy, Antboy. Pelle is a 12-year-old who accidentally becomes a superhero, and then must rise up to the challenge of saving the world from the supervillian, The Flea. Has Kick-Ass’ Hit Girl met her match? Check the trailer out and comment below!

The trailer of ACOD (Adult Child of Divorce) is out and with a cast that includes Adam Scott, Amy Poehler, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Richard Jenkins, Jane Lynch and Catherine O’Hara, and it seems to be exactly that kind of indie movie that you’d watch or *not* watch, depending on which side of the scale your love tips for any film with a cast that includes Scott, Poehler and Lynch. It’s got good buzz, so check it out anyway.

Another vampire movie set in college is coming soon, and from the trailer, Vampire Academy seems to be the kind of movie that may wash away the sins of Twilight. The good news is that it’s directed by Mark Waters, the director of Mean Girls. The, umm, other news is that it’s produced by our Reliance Entertainment, which is the studio that’s brought to us Bodyguard and Dangerous Ishq in the past. So…

Another young adult fantasy novel adaptation, How I Live Now, about a girl (Saoirrse Ronan) trying to survive during World War III is out, and that’s all that will be said about it. And while the trailer of Blue Caprice, a psychological thriller about a sniper father-son duo, behind 2002’s Beltway sniper attacks, doesn’t look that good, the film’s got excellent buzz and is supposed to be a far more riveting movie than the trailers make it look.

The trailer of John Turtorro’s Woody Allenesque film starring John Turturro and Woody Allen, Fading Gigolo, is out too, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

Casting roundup:

Vin Diesel is more or less confirmed to join the cast of Marvel’s upcoming superhero movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, about an eclectic bunch of cosmic superheroes, which include a tree and a raccoon. Diesel will play the tree. If that doesn’t sound weird enough, here’s the weirdest (or the most interesting) cast that’s ever come together for a superhero film: Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation), Zoe Saldana (Star Trek), Dave Bautista (WWE!), Benicio Del Toro, John C. Reilly (!), Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead), Lee Pace (The Hobbit), Karen Gillian (Dr Who) and Djimoun Honsou (Blood Diamond) co-star in this film. The raccoon hasn’t been cast yet *ahem*.

Diesel was earlier rumoured to be starring in the Avengers sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I was more excited about that than I’m of him voicing a tree. Which superhero do you think Diesel would be more suited for? Leave your comments below!

Note: This column first appeared on Firstpost.com on August 21, 2013

Link: http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/hollywood-bowl-zom-coms-a-tree-that-sounds-like-vin-diesel-and-more-1049395.html
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