Here we are back again with our list of five movies to watch this weekend. This is an assorted list thrown together by memory and please do not try to find any connection or “running thread”. We are not art critics. we do not offer any compelling reason to watch a movie beyond the fact that we liked it. So caveat emptor again, all our choices have our personal biases. We are simple guys who just love movies.
Chung King express
Chung King express is a big example of something that you like without being able to come up with any explanation as to why you like it. I am talking like a normal joe here. Of course, critics have explanations.
Movie critics will tell you that we all feel a sense of loneliness in today’s urban existence even when we are surrounded by a sea of humanity. As per them, Chungking express manifests that contrast and strikes a chord with lot of urban dwellers. I have also read explanation of two cop stories and parallels between their love stories etc. However I do not buy those arguments and I do not get the depth in the story part either.
I believe Chung King express worked because no one was trying very hard to make it work. A good honest thing just happened. This movie was made when director was overworked from working on a magnum opus and just wanted to shoot a second movie to honor a contract. Tarantino was distributing this movie in the US. You can search his video on youtube. Tarantino does a fair bit of explaining about the making of this movie.
The movie is shot with a hand held at night and there are no sweeping panoramic scenes tricks with the camera. There is not much attempt to explain or develop the characters. Mostly you walk through a a collage of frames and the movie works because the scenes in isolation works.
A lady in high heels wearing sunglasses at night shooting off a volley. A cop always buying a tin of pineapple with dates. Faye Wong swaying to “California Dreams” when cooking noodles and someone talking to the objects in his apartment. The scenes stick.
Back to the Future
Lot of people believe that Science fiction has to be about science. You should drive at warp speed, laser cannons should evaporate planets to oblivion, everyone carries a voice operated device and robots should do all the chores. However good science fiction is almost never about explaining science. Good science fiction is about how we would behave and cope with new things at a future date. Science just lurks in the background but needs no explaining.
It is the human element that is interesting. Philip Dick stories are like that and so is “Back to The Future”. There is no need to explain how the professor invented the time device and the anomalies that would result from it. The sheer anachronism of someone from 1985 trying to fit in 1960 is the entertaining part. Twist open caps were not known in sixties and someone from eighties would fumble with a bottle opener. How do you avoid your mother making advances on you? How do you make sure that your mother and father meet and you are born? Add to that anachronism the usual school bullies, teenage puppy love, a mad scientist and a janitor who would be a mayor and you have a sweet and mushy story. Time travel just happens in the background.
This movie has a nice rendition of “Johnny Be Goode by Chuck Berry (the original Rock-n-Roll star) “ in the school prom scene. Towards the end, the hero does some rock star twists and turns on floor and confesses to a shocked audience “you guys are not ready yet”.
The risk in watching classic movies is that we do not have any idea of how it was when it was released. Just the other day someone was complaining about how cheesy the lines in Casablanca are. Now that classic became cheesy because of repetition. Those witty dialogues, those plot elements have appeared in so many guises before us that it is difficult to ascertain the original’s effect.
Like, you may not be impressed with Jurassic park today because CGI has moved so much in meantime. You have already seen talking toys, cute ogres, flying houses and suspend bullets. Walking dinosaurs are very cheesy today (especially after the disastorous sequels to Jurassic Park) However if I go back in time, I can still remember my jaws dropping alongside Laura Dern when those dinosaurs made their entry on screen.
Double indemnity was released in 1944 and we risk the contempt of familiarity with plot elements when watching it. However Double indemnity manages to glue you to screen even today. The whole plot is unraveled in about 10 mins. An insurance agent trying to game the insurance company by enlisting help of a female love interest whose husband they murder. It was a very novel idea to reveal the murderer in first few minutes then. The beauty is, your interest in movie will not wane even after knowing the whole plot. That asserts my faith in adage that cinema is a visual medium. The plot is tight and the acting superb. I can say with confidence that there is not a single bore moment in this movie. All frames are related to the plot.
Perfume – The story of a murderer
The title is a bit extreme – it may suggest that this movie is about murderers and murders, a bit like those slap stick teen horror dramas. Just discard the murderer part from the title. Perfume belongs to the unusual story department. The kind of movies that is very dependent on script and are typically based on books. I do not want to play the spoiler and so won’t tell you what this movie is all about. Few clues are one extraordinary sense, a trade, flowers, obsession with perfection and dead girls. If you can stand some extreme scenes then Perfume is a must watch. Especially keep your eyes open for the orgy scene in the end.
Harold and Kumar go to white castle
“Harold and Kumar Go to white castle” can safely be labeled a cult movie. There actually are people who swear by it. You can not classify this movie as “underground” like the Blair Witch Project but it was not a superstar cast either.
John Cho was in American Pie for about 3 seconds (see the stifler party scene again to spot him, according to IMDB, John, ‘MILF’ Guy #2) and in American Beauty for about 4 seconds. Kal Penn had worked in one of the Van Wylder series and few other I-drop-my-pants and-now-you-laugh comedies. He is also in Man About town with Ben Affleck. Danny Leiner is also the director of “Dude where is my car” (with Ashton Kutcher) and that was a soaked to bone cheap comedy.
So no one would have expected such a powerhouse performance from this ensemble. Maybe another pizza dropping from ceiling kind of hollywood comedy full of elephant riding indian and kung fu hustling chinese characters but a deep satirical comedy. The only stereotypical scene is the one in Princeton about asian geeks. It is as if the director and two lead protagonists decided to rebel against the ordinariness bestowed on them before ( and after) and decided to show the world what they are capable of. This movie has many classy scenes and dialogues.
- Just because you are hung like a Mule does not mean you have to be a porn star
- Are you boys going to f*ck me or what?
A marijuana smoking cheetah, white supremacist cops, A typical indian doctor dad, romantic song loving skin heads and a totally doped Neal Patrick Harris. This movie will not disappoint you. IMDB reports and opening weekend of $5,480,378 across 2135 Screens. For the records, it looks totally mainstream.