Tag Archives: Funny

Movie Recommendation: Across The Universe (2007)

Perhaps our generation can never truly understand the significance of freedom as much as the previous generation, which had to fight for it. Perhaps we can never truly understand war as much as the youth who were conscripted in armies to fight for causes they didn’t even understand. Perhaps counterculture can never mean as much to us as it did to the band of young revolutionaries who defied norms, mores and conventions, and gave rise to it.

And these are just a few of the several reasons why 2007’s Julie Taymor musical, Across The Universe, is an important watch. The other reasons – and there are MANY – include a young romance set in the backdrop of the Vietnam War, the rise of the psychedelic movement, a glorious ode to The Beatles with the best EVER cover soundtrack featuring 34 songs by the band, a cameo by Bono, and of course, Evan Rachel Wood (*sigh*).

The movie, a major portion of which is told through fantastic cover versions of Beatles’ classics such as ‘All my loving’, ‘I want to hold your hand’, ‘With a little help from my friends’, ‘Strawberry fields forever’ and ‘Hey Jude’, is essentially about the love story of ‘Jude’ and ‘Lucy’ (don’t you love it already?). Jude (Jim Sturgess), who belongs to a modest background in Liverpool, travels to New Jersey to look for his father. In a new country where dreams come true, Jude befriends ‘Max’ (Joe Anderson) and ends up falling in love with Max’s sister, Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood).

When Max is conscripted for the Vietnam War, Lucy joins the anti-war movement, and this causes a drift between Jude and her, in the lead up to the climax of both the revolution as well as their romance. In the midst of all this, there’s also the story of a band of musicians (‘Sadie’, ‘Prudence’ and ‘JoJo’) all trying to find their place in the days of rebellion.

While self-righteous critics have pointed out the lack of a plot in the movie, the movie symbolically achieves what its remarkable screenplay conveys through dazzling visuals and iconic music – a counterculture phenomenon. So you don’t really need a reason to watch this movie… all you need is love.

Starring: Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther, TV Carpio
Written By: Julie Taymor, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais
Directed By: Julie Taymor

Note: This recommendation first appeared in MTV Noise Factory, August 2011 issue
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.

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Movie Recommendation: (500) Days of Summer (2009)

Ask any guy and he’ll swear to you that we don’t like ‘chick flicks’. We’ll furiously fight till our last breaths with our girlfriends so we can get out of watching them. But it’s really not so much because we mind them, no. It’s actually more to do with the fact that we’d rather they be called ‘romantic comedies’ or ‘dramedies’ or even ‘romance dramas’ than ‘chick flicks’.

But let’s get real: ‘chick flicks’ are the only kind of ‘romantic comedies’ there are, aren’t they (and ahem, well, we don’t really win a fight with our girlfriends either, do we)? So whenever we are doomed to watching man-wannabe Hugh Grant gets serenaded by Julia Roberts, we know very well that it’s all make-believe. Because in a dude version of Notting Hill, the guy would instead be telling the girl, ‘I’m just a guy, standing in front of a girl, asking her to laugh at his jokes’.

All this changed when Marc Webb, who’s now helming the Spiderman reboot, came out with the defining romantic film of this generation, (500) Days of Summer. But as the narrator clearly states, the movie is a ‘boy meets girl’ story; it is not a ‘love story’.

The film is probably the first ‘rom com’ that deserves the epithet, ‘dude flick’, but it would be wrong to call it just that. Yes, it‘s told from the point of view of a guy, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Lewitt), who gets his heart broken by a goddess among girls, Summer (Zooey Deschanel). Yes, it’s neither typically romantic nor a typical comedy and has a non-linear structure, so it’s not really a formulaic ‘chick flick’. And yes, somehow, girls just don’t seem to like this movie as much as guys do.

But the reason that it’s not just a ‘dude flick’ either is because it poses a question that in some way, has defined the growing up years of each one of us, boy or girl. It’s also a question that has rarely been asked or answered on screen – that we all seem to know how to fall in love, but how exactly do we go about falling out of it?

If you’ve ever fallen hopelessly in love and have had your heart broken by that person you now remember only as ‘b**ch’ or ‘b****ard’, let Webb show you the light through his movie, that went from being a little indie flick to a worldwide sleeper hit. Real and quirky, with excellent music, some laugh-out-loud dialogues and a ‘kickass’ supporting role by Chloe Moretz, this is the movie you want to watch if you are bored of mush.

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Chloe Moretz
Written by: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Directed by: Marc Webb

Note: This recommendation first appeared in MTV Noise Factory, February 2012 issue
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.

Movie Recommendation: A Knight’s Tale (2001)

When a film about sports in the middle ages begins with two knights trying to unhorse each other with the help of their lances – to a stadium full of, what seems to be, a hippie crowd in medieval clothing, stomping their feet and singing ‘We will rock you’ and breaking into a Mexican wave, you know you’ve put on the right DVD.

Of all the popcorn movies about sports – and there are many that pretend to be that – the one that out-jousts the rest for its romping mix of comedy, drama, romance, sport, medieval history… and, yes, rock music, is Brian Helgeland’s 2001 film, A Knight’s Tale.

On its face, the film is centred around the ancient sport of jousting… it’s about knights, counts, nobles, and it’s even got Edward, the Black Prince and Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English literature, revelling in the madness. But A Knight’s Tale is much more than just that. It’s a genius mix of the old and the contemporary: the setting may be 14th century Europe, but at its heart, it’s a movie about young love, ambition and foolishness, and how history doesn’t have to be as boring as they make it sound.

Heath Ledger plays a peasant, William Thatcher, who dons the garb of his recently deceased master, a knight, Sir Ector, to take his place in jousting championships. Through some luck and a lot of gut, William, now called Sir Ulrich Van Liechtenstein, goes on a winning spree, and somewhere in between, falls in love with a noble lady, Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon). To win her love and to win the world’s respect, William must now overcome Jocelyn’s wealthy suitor, Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell), the best jousters in the world, and his own humble origins.

The film’s brilliant script, also by Helgeland (who’s written masterpieces like LA Confidential and Mystic River), and its side-splitting support cast, which brings together some of the finest British comic talent (Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk, Paul Bettany), are just a couple of the reasons why this film’s un-missable.

But mostly, this film is a must-watch for the gifted Ledger’s charming portrayal of a young peasant’s journey to becoming both a knight and a man, and for the clever (and fiercely original) incorporation of ‘an author with a gambling addiction’, Chaucer, in the mix. The film also takes its name from a Chaucer classic – and the throwback to it deserves to be seen!

Starring: Heath Ledger, Mark Addy, Rufus Sewell, Shannyn Sossamon, Paul Bettany, Alan Tudyk
Written By: Brian Helgeland
Directed By: Brian Helgeland

Note: This recommendation first appeared in MTV Noise Factory, May 2011 issue
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.

Movie Recommendation: Kick-Ass (2010)

Where genre-bending, unconventionally cool and badass is concerned, there’s not much Superhero films can do that’s really different from what’s been done before. Unless, obviously, you are Christopher Nolan and inception-ing people’s minds and proving them wrong is your twisted hobby.

But as much as I am a major fanboy of Nolan’s Batman movies and as much as I couldn’t believe that someone could *actually* undo the damage Joel Schumacher did by taking a dump on the entire genre, let’s face it – Batman’s pretty awesome all by himself too (because Robin’s best suited in How I Met Your Mother).

My point being, when you have great power, you have been trained by a Jedi (Liam Neeson) AND have at your service John Carter (Michael Caine) and God himself (Morgan Freeman), great responsibilities aren’t really a big deal, you know?
But when you have no power, does that still mean you have no responsibilities? How about that for an exceptionally intelligent yet subtly philosophical question in a movie column? Boom! (Always wanted to do that). Wordplay aside, that’s exactly the question an ordinary teenager, a ‘loser’, tries to answer in the movie that’d make any Superhero proud.

Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) has no superpower, no skills, no girlfriend… no life at all. And then, one day, he decides that the world needs real life superheroes and becomes ‘Kick-Ass’. And just as any *real* superhero would, Dave gets his ass kicked… till he meets two other vigilantes – Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz). And then, Sh*t. Goes. Down!

In the most ridiculously entertaining film you’d have seen in a while, Matthew Vaughn shows just why you don’t need to be a superhero to kick some a**. The supremely talented British director, in the movie that laid the foundation for his X Men: First Class, collaborated with Scottish comic book writer, Mark Millar, to make this refreshingly funny, violent and irreverent take on superhero flicks, peppered with so much spunk that you’d not only love the action, you’d *be* the action.

And the talented cast (including the awesome Mark Strong and Christopher ‘McLovin’ Mintz-Plasse), the wacky screenplay and the fantastic music (listen to ‘Hey little world’ from The Hives NOW) apart, watch it for 11-year-old Moretz. In a role that’s as controversial as it is genius, Moretz’ Hit Girl could be *the* answer to everything from slavery to child abuse. Fandom. Will. Happen.

Starring: Aaron Johnson, Nicholas Cage, Chloe Grace Moretz, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Written By: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Mark Millar
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

Note: This recommendation first appeared in MTV Noise Factory, November 2011 issue
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.

Movie Recommendation: Clerks II (2006)

It’s taken a long time for this day to come, but we finally have a food-themed issue. YAY! *raises hands and runs around in circles* Now that we’ve shown our allegiance to our editor’s brains, it’s important to point out that unless you count Chicken Run as one, there is no such thing as a ‘food movie’. No one’s ever written a movie about, say, the romance between ketchup and burgers. Which is a pity.

But there *are* movies that make you feel hungry like Harold and Kumar Go To The White Castle or Julie and Julia or err.. 9 And a Half Weeks, and there are also movies that use food symbolically to show you the bigger picture like Stand By Me or The Breakfast Club or err… American Pie. And then… there are movies like Clerks II, which takes place in a Fast Food Joint but has nothing to do with food whatsoever.

A follow up to Smith’s indie cult classic Clerks, Clerks II is just as awesome as the original, and yet, just as original as the… original. For those who haven’t seen Clerks yet, first, BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF. And second, WATCH IT RIGHT NOW. Simply because Clerks was one of the very first indie films whose quirky, colloquial, obnoxious and ‘real’ writing appealed directly to the current generation who wouldn’t take another ‘80s coming of age film if it hit them in the face. First came Kevin Smith’s genius and his View Askewniverse, THEN came Judd Appatow and the frat pack.

Clerks II – which has the same writing style – is about two friends, Dante and Randall (from Clerks), who work in a Fast Food Joint, are now in their 30s, and have *still* not figured out life. Through the film and its story of one crazy day where s**t hits the fans, their life finds meaning and they come of age – again. The film again has the cult characters Jay and Silent Bob, and a hottie, Rosario Dawson, is also in the mix for good measure.

But the greatness of the Clerks series cannot be explained in words. Except if they are Kevin Smith’s. And that’s what you’ll take back after watching the films –some kickass, fresh writing you *never* thought possible in the movies. Watch it NOW!

Starring: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Rosario Dawson
Written By: Kevin Smith
Directed By: Kevin Smith

Note: This recommendation first appeared in MTV Noise Factory, March 2012 issue
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.

Movie Recommendation: Garden State (2004)

David Schwimmer is not the only (awesome) TV actor who we realised was a gazillion-times cooler than anyone could’ve imagined. Zach Braff, or JD from Scrubs, too made his directorial debut in the 2000s, *while* he was still shooting for Scrubs. Braff not only directed, but also wrote Garden State, which was as much a departure from the writing on Scrubs as American sitcom comedy is from Navjot Siddhu’s jokes on Laughter Challenge.

Yes, that last sentence was a bit extreme but five minutes into the movie, and you’d know we weren’t exaggerating. Because where Scrubs is slapstick, over the top, one liner galore humour, Garden State is an unassuming, subtle and quietly clever dramedy that will – at some point in its delightful screenplay – make you realise that this is your favourite movie that you hadn’t watched yet!

A story of a failed actor who returns to his hometown depressed, but gets inspired there to give it all another go, Garden State is not your conventional underdog story. For a pleasant change, it’s as much about warming up to old memories and making peace with your reality as it is about new beginnings and chasing your dreams.

The movie’s not got dramatic high or low points accompanied by a Hans Zimmer score… but it’s got moments that’ll stay with you long after the credits roll. It’s not got that one mentor who inspires the lead actor to find his mojo in a cult speech… but it’s got a group of friends who’ll make you realise that sometimes, screwing up is okay. It’s not got any life lessons that proclaim to change your life, the world and everyone in between… but it’s got heart.

And that’s where this little indie gem inspires in ways no other carefully-put-together rousing studio movie does. Through fantastically etched scenes on the evil quarter life crises, stunning, understated performances by the leads Braff, Natalie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard, and just the right kind of music (that scored a Grammy)… the movie makes you feel. And is there any better reason to watch movies… than to feel? Buy NOW!

Starring: Zach Braff, Natalie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard
Written By: Zach Braff
Directed By: Zach Braff

Note: This recommendation first appeared in MTV Noise Factory, January 2012 issue
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.

Movie Recommendation: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Sometime after Robert Downey Jr decided he didn’t REALLY want to die a hippy, and before he became THE Robert ‘Ironman’ Downey Jr, he gave a scene-stealing performance in one of the most underrated and overlooked AWESOME movies of the last decade (it was officially voted that!), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. If that’s not an effective enough introduction paragraph, I have two words for you: Shane Black.

Okay, I admit, the end of the last paragraph would work much better if you already know that at the height of his career, Black was the best paid Hollywood screenwriter, having written multi-million grossing Lethal Weapon 1 and 2, The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was his directorial debut, and WHAT a debut it was!

One of the coolest films to have come out, well, any year, the movie oscillates between being a take on murder/night/detective-type classic film noir, and a wrong person/wrong place/wrong time-type classic black comedy. And the result is a murder mystery that’s ROTFL-hilarious (I swear I’ve never used that abbreviation in an article before) by the unlikely chemistry between a bumbling, pansy crook, played by Downey Jr, and a tough-talking cocky gay cop (pun not intended), played by Val Kilmer.

The two fantastic actors bounce off each other so well, it’s hard to understand why, blasphemi-cally, no one’s cast them together since. But not enough credit can be given to Black for dishing out a screenplay so funny, you’re not even distracted by a nude Michelle Monaghan! And yes! There’s a nude Michelle Monaghan in the movie too! … Okay, you are a littttttle distracted.

The story is interesting too: Harry (Downey Jr), a small-time thief, lands up the role of a detective in a Hollywood film by mistake, and is then asked to hang out with a detective, Perry (Kilmer), to prepare for his role. He also meets a starlet Harmony (Monaghan) in between, who thinks he’s a real detectives and asks him to investigate the murder of her sister. Both Harry and Perry end up getting involved in the case, and well, a lot of kiss, kiss and bang, bang ensues.

Once you are done watching the film – and watch, you better! – throw your hands up in the air, and scream with glee. Because Black is going to write and direct Ironman 3 starring Downey Jr. Hell yeah, anyone?

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan
Written By: Brett Halliday and Shane Black
Directed By: Shane Black

Note: This recommendation first appeared in MTV Noise Factory, April 2011 issue
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.