Silicon Valley (2014-) [TV Series]

Just completed the first season of Silicon Valley, a fresh HBO TV series following a small group of software techies. It does look promising! Some brilliant acting with a lot of fun served in the same dish. The story is a fast one with the characters given enough time to express who they are. There is a drawback though. I could relate closely as I belong to the domain. However, it might not be the case with people who are not acquainted with start-ups or at least the IT industry. Some of the terms like Scrum or Beta testing might not appeal to people from other fields. But the IT crowd is not a small one and I think it makes a strong audience for Silicon Valley.

The writers are innovative and introduced fictitious companies and concepts like Hooli or the Weissman Score which adds to the charm of the series. I think it’s way better than the latest seasons of The Big Bang Theory. Despite the comedy and small-talk, Silicon Valley does not sway from the realities of the tech industry, rather it exposes the problems techies faces in their professional lives. Come on! Who didn’t have a overbearing boss or a bunch of backstabbing colleagues if they are more than 5 years in tech?

Waiting for a befitting season 2!

Kikujiro (1999)

Takeshi Kitano exemplifies how a seemingly ordinary movie with a predictable plot can be turned into a masterpiece. A long-faced runaway boy searching for his mother accompanied by a loud-mouthed elderly who spends most of his time manipulating and finding faults in others… who would have thought that it’s going to be more enjoyable than Sonatine? The beauty of suburban Japan magnifies it manifold. A low-budget adventure with minimal characters and a lot of fun in it – Kikujiro has it all! While the movie is predominantly humorous, there’s a mix of dark comedy, scary dream sequences visualized in the mind of an under 10 kid and his share of unfortunate realities in life. However, the movie is all about how the kid remembers a remarkable summer vacation with some strange characters and how it ends in happy memories. All the characters deliver strong performances. Kitano is one of the most acclaimed directors of today and this movie shows the amount of attention he gives to details in writing, direction and acting. Watch it for sheer entertainment and fun. My rating would be a 9/10.

The Lego Movie (2014)

It’s quite a while that I watched any animation so I settled with The Lego Movie. Though it’s a slow beginner for an animation with some cliché quotes I hanged on. To my surprise, the movie turned out to be quite an interesting one. As it’s a movie about lego people in a lego world The Lego Movie didn’t really need any state of the art animation. I didn’t find the movie as entertaining as Wreck-It Ralph but it set the theme with an emotional touch instead. The concept is similar to that in World on a Wire but this movie stresses on something different – the need for changes. This movie should help individuals who accept their life to be a recurring plot of constant incidents. Changes are important in life and The Lego Movie points it out well. You may also find your favourite superhero in this animation ;). A good watch for all ages. My rating would be 8/10.

Serendipity (2001)

I am not a great fan of romantic movies. However, I watched Serendipity on a lazy evening as my wife insisted. To my surprise, the young John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale seemed to have a great on-screen chemistry between them and I liked it. The movie is fun to watch. There are humorous dialogues and scenes throughout the movie. The dialogues are original. Quality performance from all the actors makes the movie stand out. Though I don’t believe in the realm or concepts highlighted in the movie, it does carry a feel good factor in it. I would surely recommend it for a light-hearted movie session with your partner. My rating would be 7/10.

Blue Ruin (2013)

Believe it or not, if you are a decent movie fan, you have watched Blue Ruin a number of times before, at least the theme of the movie – vengeance. But probably you haven’t seen the same kind of innocence in the protagonist before. The director has exploited Macon Blair’s acting capabilities and appearance to the maximum. We see a very familiar face, pale and troubled and searching for some comfort. And yet, it is just the external cover to an extreme urge to go to any limit to save the survivors of a horrible tragedy. Blair puts up a commendable performance. Music is awesome and matches the theme of the movie completely. Blue Rain is a well-tailored thriller with a straight storyline. It is not groundbreaking but will keep you at the edge of the seat most of the time. It has won a number of nominations and awards at various film festivals. My rating would be 7.5/10. Strictly for adults because of the violence and gore in the movie.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Wes Anderson is back. Since I have watched The Grand Budapest Hotel I am still dazed whether it is a landmark in film-making or storytelling. Exotic set and takes, brilliant actors who pour in all their talent into extraordinary characters developed meticulously… there is so much in this film! And a careful viewer will not miss the direct connect between the solitude of the hotel and its current owner. The story by itself is nothing ingenious but the presentation makes it stand out of the ordinary. There’s something beautiful about each of the characters however loathsome they might appear. Perhaps it’s the real secret of Wes Anderson’s recipe – he makes seemingly uninteresting characters larger than life. The Grand Budapest Hotel is also a hilarious movie with its share of dark comedy. My rating would be 8.5/10. Watch and have fun!

The Body (2012)

If you are looking for a fast paced thriller that keeps you glued till the end, try The Body (Spanish El Cuerpo). While the plot and conspiracies in the movie may seem to be very clear from the beginning, the ambiance is enjoyable and tense. And it’s difficult to guess the sharp twist in the end. The movie may have loopholes in the storyline but definitely you won’t realize or bother about those while you are watching it. The flashbacks fit well into the movie and adds spice to the suspense. The Body is a very polished modern movie and the performance delivered by the main characters is top-notch. English subtitles may take some charm away if you do not understand Spanish.

Her (2013)

In case you have watched Kubrick’s timeless 2001: A Space Odyssey you have already watched Her, except for the fact that it’s the future from today’s frame. I think Kubrick’s creation was frighteningly real. While Her is quiet interesting at times, the storyline is a bit slow because it runs on an exceptionally lonely and closed man’s life. The movie is quiet prurient in its dialogues and Scarlett Johansson’s sexy accent leaves nothing left to imagination. Call it the larger than life Siri or Iris ;). The rating on IMDB is very high (seems overrated to me) but there are many reasons viewers may have liked the movie – this kind of a movie is made once in a while and this is a bloody techno-bath, artificial intelligence is still not a very familiar concept and it is evident throughout that talented Spike Jonze has paid attention to every minute details. Joaquin Phoenix is phenomenal as Theodore. I couldn’t help but wonder how different this character is from that of Commodus in Gladiator and how naturally Phoenix plays both! Though the end of the movie is predictable it has been deliberately made longer and emotionally rich. Her is worth watching at least for a fresh experience. My rating would be 7.8/10.

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Follow the life of a down to the rags Folk musician as he struggles to make his mark, through the eyes of the Coen brothers. Inside Llewyn Davis is definitely one of the best films I have watched this year. The story is from 1961 Greenwich Village and follows a week in the life of the character Llewyn. The story is loosely based on Dave Van Ronk, a folk singer. The film follows him closely for a week. It excels both in music and drama. The music is bound to bring back fond memories of good old times when things were not so complex. The dialogues are intelligent and witty. The drama is playful and happening intermixed with dark comedy and you enjoy it till the end. The Coen brothers do their signature psychological experiments in this film as well and we keep exploring the mind of a talented musician struggling to make ends meet, going through a costly relationship, on the verge of desperation, almost giving it up. A straight 9/10. It’s good to see the Coen brothers back with their dark magic.

Jaatishwar [The Reincarnated] (2014)

Jaatiswar is a Bengali movie which recently won 4 National Film Awards (2014) in India. After watching the movie I decided to write about it mainly because of two reasons – awesome music and a nice touch of history. Jaatiswar is a musical and the music director is none other than Kabir Suman. If you are a music lover you are in for a surprise. The music is very different from the commercial mainstream music in India in recent times. The movie is on the life of Anthony Firingee, a Portuguese who became famous in Bengal as a folk-poet pictured in a modern day context. The story is well known in the Bengali community due to another old and popular film covering the topic but Jaatiswar touches history with a beautiful finesse and a clever twist in the end. Prasenjit Chatterjee (playing Anthony Firingee) delivers a commendable performance.

There are drawbacks as well. The folk poem lyrics are well written but the dialogues fail to make a mark in most cases. The use of Computer graphics and (poorly) written introduction to characters are used in all the wrong places in the movie. It is evident that today’s so called prominent Bengali film directors didn’t learn much from the films of the world class Bengali director Satyajit Ray (who was a master in using silence vivid with expressions and symbolism). Following an interesting chapter in the cultural history of Bengal, the director Srijit Mukhopadhyay should also have avoided cheap gimmicks like a daughter smoking on the rooftop while conversing with her mother. It clearly shows the lack of focus in the right direction. Speaking of class, the film does not deliver other than the music.