Film Review : The Lunchbox (2014)

IMDB Score – 7.9
Rotten Tomato Score – 96%

Directed By - Ritesh Batra
Starring – Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Lillete Dubey, Nakul Vaid, and Bharati Achrekar

A mistaken delivery in Mumbai’s famously efficient lunchbox delivery system connects a young housewife to an older man in the dusk of his life as they build a fantasy world together through notes in the lunchbox.

Would you count this as a Bollywood movie? Every time I think of Bollywood movies, THIS scene sticks out in my mind…

My knowledge of Bollywood has been reduced to a horse sliding under a truck as if it has been frozen in place. I think I may have the notion that all Bollywood films rival the low budget B movies that we see in grindhouse theaters in America. My ignorance couldn’t be more apparent. The country pumps out more movies than one could count and while a lot of them consist of special effects shots as shown above, there are a great number of quality cinema coming from India. While I haven’t seen any of his films, the work of Satyajit Ray has made it’s way to the eyes of American film nerds. I think I should make the nice Indian woman who works at my library happy and finally take her up on her suggestions to watch his films. Tonight though I decided to start with a more recent film from the country of India, The Lunchbox.

My local art house was playing this for a couple weeks but I couldn’t get myself to make the drive over there. This is the problem with living across the river from New York City. I fucking hate going anywhere else. The theater is a half hour drive west and I just couldn’t find the time. I was interested in it because I have this weird romantic film itch I’ve been scratching lately so when it was available on Netflix DVD service I added it to the top of my queue.

If this film was made by an American production company, Rachel McAdams and Richard Gere would have starred and it would have been directed by Lasse Hallstrom. It would have rivaled Nights in Rodanthe or whatever that slop of a movie was called and would have been attended by every house mother in the nation. The film centers around two adults in India who correspond through lunch due to an error in the infamous lunchbox delivery system. The woman, played by Nimrat Kaur, is neglected by her husband so when she finds out she’s been making lunch for another man, played by Irrfan Khan, she continues to do so. The two build a relationship through letters and what looks like delicious food and BAM we have our movie. You see what I mean about the America thing? They’d call it “Lunch for Two” and it’d gross 100 million dollars. Somebody is going to read this and it’s going to happen. Watch.

The film ended up being such a pleasurable watch. I think I watch films like these every once in a while because my viewing tendencies lean towards a lot of dark horrible shit. People dying or people killing. Rape. Ghosts. Mafia. Zombies. Violent Crime. All usual stuff going through my eyes and ears. I needed this. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a walk in the park. There are some pretty heavy emotional scenes in the film carried out by some pretty fantastic acting by Kaur and Kahn. The film builds the relationship and character of these two people with subtlety and care. There were no long conversations setting up backstory or details that didn’t need to be there. The details were revealed as they needed to be. The screenplay was tight but contructed in a way to let the film breath. Not a lot happened in the first hour. That was okay though. We were treated with some nice food preparation and Indian scenery with a bit of character development thrown on top. By the end, I was fully involved with how these two people ended up. The ending by the way…perfect. They didn’t insult my intelligence by assuming I don’t have a goddamn imagination. I like when filmmakers let me end the story with my mind. I don’t need a bow every time.

Like I mentioned, Kahn and Kaur were wonderful, Kahn especially. Ever since I saw him in “Life of Pi” I’ve been completely impressed with him as an actor in everything else he’s been in that I’ve seen. He’s on my list of completely underrated by extremely talented actors. Hell, even his small role in The Darjeeling Limited was great. Kaur had the scene of the movie. She was able to convey a whole range of emotions with just her eyes. Also, he conversations with her Auntie upstairs were fun to listen to.

The film is a great watch when you’re feeling shitty or just want to watch a warm, light hearted film about a small romance in India. It was genuine and superbly acted and written.

4.5/5




My Favorite Horror Films of All Time : Classics and Hidden Gems

It’s October. While I haven’t been watching as many horror films as I should be watching. Instead, I thought I’d take some time and share my thoughts on what I consider to be the essential and underrated horror films that I’ve seen. These films are in no order besides the order that I remember them. As a sidenote, I didn’t include Cache or The Night of the Hunter because I don’t feel they fit as true horror films. Enjoy and please let me know what I missed or goofed on in the comments.

We Are What We Are

I was blown away by this film when I first saw it. The ending shocked me and the acting and pace of the film created a perfect cloud of suspense. I like my horror films to be a bit crazy and this film managed to hit the perfect note on the crazy scale.

The Act of Killing

A documentary can’t be a horror movie you say? PSHHHHHHHH! If you watch this film and tell me that there isn’t an ungodly amount of horror in this film then your soul is black and void. The film scared the absolute shit out of me. The scariest part is that it is all real. This shit actually happened.

The Loved Ones

Batshit. Totally effin batshit film. It’s fun. It’s horrifying. It’s Australian. I can’t say enough about this one. Actually, saying any more than what I have already said will give too much away. Jus find a way to see this one.

Kill List

Easily the scariest final twenty minutes in a film I’ve ever seen. It threw me for a loop for fucking days. One of the few films that completely changes genre in the final twenty minutes. The film is brutal and provides, along with the ass clenching suspense, one of the most what the fuck endings ever. It’s a treat.

Rosemary’s Baby

Classic horror. You don’t need blood thirsty monster or ax wielding maniacs to deliver a truly frightening experience. Polanski may be an asshole, but the guy knows how a craft a truly creepy and unsettling film.

The Changeling

Perfect ghost story. It doesn’t get overly ridiculous and happened to cast one of the best actors working during that time George C. Scott. I inspect houses for a living. The big, old, vacant ones still give me the creeps due to this film.

The Shining

What can be said that hasn’t been said a thousand times. It is in my top five films of all time. It’s THE perfect horror film. Don’t agree? Maybe I should…correct you.

The Thing (1982)

Like The Shining, another perfect horror film. The special effects haven’t been done as good since and most likely will never be as good in a horror film. You ain’t getting Wilford Brimley’s blood and Kurt Russell sports the greatest beard ever committed to film. It’s amazing.

The Innkeepers

I love Ti West. He’s my favorite horror director working today. This is his slowest and creepiest. It builds perfect tension and features two characters who act like real people instead of horror devices. It’s another perfect ghost story and makes me want to work late nights in an empty hotel.

House of the Devil

Ti West’s homage to 80’s slasher films with a great twist ending. Tom Noonan should be cast in ever horror movie ever and the film also has probably the best and most alarming jump scare in film…twice…60 seconds from each other. If this film came out in the 80s it would be an instant classic.

28 Days Later

It took me YEARS to see this movie. The trailer scared the absolute shit out of me as a kid. The image above gave me nightmares for weeks. When I finally sat down to watch it, the most unique “zombie” film of all time opened my eyes. Alarming, horrifying, and loaded with emotional scenes. The empty London scenes are iconic.

Shaun of the Dead

Hilarious? Yes. Scary as shit and full of amazingly serious situations and acting from all involved? Also yes. I still think it’s the best traditional zombie film of all time. The fact that it’s hilarious only adds to its brilliance.

Psycho

What can be said? It changed the game forever. A work of genius.

Jaws

My favorite film of all time. Words can’t explain the amount of enjoyment I get from it. I’m still scared swimming in the ocean.

Alien

I love space horror, even the bad ones. This isn’t a bad one. It’s a brilliant one and among my most watched films of all time. The blu ray version of this is incredible. Game over man.

Quick Review : Absentia (2011)

IMDB Score – 5.8
Netflix Watch Instant

Directed By – Mike Flanagan
Starring – Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Justin Gordon, Morgan Peter Brown, and Doug Jones

A woman and her sister begin to link a mysterious tunnel to a series of disappearances, including that of her own husband.

First films are interesting. On the surface they are cheaply made with actors who range from promising to barely usable. Below the surface they are occasionally the early seedlings of talent. After finishing Absentia I was left both impressed and frustrated. The film didn’t make sense in some scenes, had bad editing, and some shoddy acting. Yet, the film is also unique with some seriously disturbing and frightening ideas. Although I haven’t seen it yet, I can understand why Mike Flanagan got the budget to make Oculus.

The film centers around two sisters. The oldest is finishing filing the paperwork to declare her husband, who disappeared seven years earlier, dead. The younger is reuniting with her older sister after a long battle with drug addiction. The typical horror tropes start to occur afterward. Strange thins start to happen and both sisters are starting to question what they see. The film features a cameo of sorts from the great Doug Jones and some seriously horrid acting from two horrid detectives.

Like many first features, the beginning of the film kind of ruins the remaining. This movie takes an eternity to get going and by that point I’m really just hoping to see some blood and guts. The acting from Parker and Bell gets better as the film progresses and the last twenty minutes showcases some pretty interesting and disturbing concepts. The end result is pretty much this…I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it. I’ll see if Flanagan improved on his first effort with his second effort soon.

2.5/5



Film Review : The Orphanage (2007)

IMDB Score – 7.5
Rotten Tomato Score – 87%

Directed By – J.A. Bayona
Starring – Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep, Mabel Rivera, Montserrat Carulla, Andrés Gertrúdix, and Geraldine Chaplin

A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.

It’s funny how full of shit I am. I told myself that I would be watching a horror movie a night because it’s my favorite month of the year, October. You know how many I’ve seen this month? Two, including this one. That’s pathetic. My viewing schedule has developed a case of the crazy and I take what I can get. Tonight I took a walk down to the library to find some interesting films to watch over the week. I wanted mostly horror films but I couldn’t help take out a few Criterion films which I’ll be watching over the weekend. I guess I’ll just have to dust off the old Netflix account and browse the horror selection there. I’m sure I’ll be disappointed. The Orphanage has managed to escape me for years so I decided to finally pay it a visit which actually turned out to be a wonderful idea.

I loved the film for the most part. You don’t get many horror films like this.

Slow. Detailed. Well acted.

It reminded me of Ti West in the way he lets the atmosphere and natural creepiness of setting scare the viewer. I haven’t seen his newest film (heard it’s on Netflix, I take back my statement above), but the guy just knows how to make a horror movie that appeals to all of my senses. He still likes to throw at least one jump scare in though, a tactic that I find tired and overused. This is where The Orphanage differs itself from the pack. I honestly don’t remember one single jump scare. Sure there were some quick camera movements and figures appearing from a spot where there was once nothing, but those just felt earned. There was no ROARING CRASH OF SOUND accompanied by a lightning quick edit to some deranged murderous face, or better yet a fucking cat that jumps out of a closet. This film was just plain old creepy. It’s also a ghost story. I love host stories. I’ve been telling, reading, and writing them since I was a kid and this ghost story satisfied me completely. I was into the overall premise of the film. There were some holes that I should have bothered me but somehow didn’t given the fact that the movie could exist without filling them. Actually, I’d say the story was the weakest link of the whole film. It certainly pulled me in but I was really hooked by the overall aesthetic feel of the film. I made sure to turn the lights out and crank the volume for this and the film returned my diligence by giving me a great atmosphere for a horror film. The acting was also top notch, especially from Belén Rueda. She’s a natural.

Like many, I had a problem with the ending. I just felt like it was a total cop out to what could have been a seriously disturbing and unique conclusion. Those who have seen the film will remember the basement scene. Credits should have rolled from that point. The movie was over. What came next was just a very easy way to end what was a totally original and uneasy film. I understood the reasoning behind it but I honestly didn’t care for what happened to the characters involved. I didn’t shed a tear. I wanted the disturbing option A.

The ending disappointed me but the film overall couldn’t have been more enjoyable. I loved the creepiness. I loved the acting from Belén Rueda. It was a good scare on a nice, windy, chilly October night. I should do this more often.

4/5

Suggested Viewing – The Others, The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, Tale of Two Sisters, Les Diaboliques (1955 version, fuck that shitty remake)



Quick Hits : Joe, Tim’s Vermeer, and The Drop

Directed By – David Gordon Green
Starring – Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Gary Poulter, Ronnie Gene Blevins, and Adriene Mishler

I got a lot of flack for watching this film. Why? I got flack because it stars Nicolas Cage. Why do people hate him so much? The guy is amazing. Half the films he makes are so shit that I can’t even stand to watch the trailer but then the guy will turn in a brilliant performance that knocks you on your ass. Leaving Las Vegas, Raising Arizona, Matchstick Men, Adaptation, and now Joe, all fantastic films that are anchored by brilliant Nicolas Cage performances. The man is a working actor and work he does. Cage gives a pretty incredible performance as the title character Joe, an ex con who hires a teenager to help him with work. The teen is played by Tye Sheridan who is starring in yet another film where he befriends a man with questionable character. The reason for this befriendment is because the boy’s father, Wade, is pretty much a complete fucking scumbag. The guy had no redeemable qualities and Joe was there to save the boy. Gary Poulter plays Wade and gives a knockout performance despite never acting in a film before and living on the street. Green picked him off the sidewalks to play the role and while he died after the filming of the movie, his performance as Wade will live on forever.

The film is violent, dark, and unrelentingly depressing but also creates an atmosphere and real sense of feeling. It’s a great film made by a filmmaker who seems to be finding his niche again.

4/5

Directed By Penn and Teller
Starring – Tim Jenison

Holy hell did I enjoy this film. By the end I was almost ready to pick up my paint brush and start painting something. Tim Jenison invents TV broadcast equipment and is an all around smart as shit person. One day he decides that he’s going to try to paint a replica of a painting by one of the greatest painter of all time, Johannes Vermeer. A Vermeer is worth millions due to the fact that it is so photo realistic despite being painted almost 400 years ago. Tim, who is not a painter by any means, is going to try to paint a Vermeer solely with the help of a mirror and an ungodly amount of time and patience. There really isn’t much to analyse here. The guy is just fascinating to watch and I was surprised by how well Penn and Teller made this film. Teller filmed it and Penn narrated and I’m sure produced. Those guys are just too talented to exist anymore. It’s like not even fair.

The film is a joy to watch if you’re even slightly into painting and even if you’re not, it’s still a fucking blast. I had a huge smile on my face throughout the whole damn thing. It’s my favorite documentary of the year.

4.5/5

Directed by – Michaël R. Roskam
Starring – Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz, and Ann Dowd

I’ve been waiting for this film for a long time. I’m a pretty big fan of Michaël R. Roskam’s Bullhead and own it on Blu Ray. When the trailer dropped and I saw that it was adapted from a Dennis Lehane novel I got even more excited. When I found out it has the last on screen appearance of James Gandolfini I marked my calender. The fact that some of my favorite European actors are in it as well certainly added to my anticipation. Well, consider the film a success but one that came with a few flaws. The acting in the film was top notch anchored by Hardy and Gandolfini. We seriously lost a serious talent in Gandolfini who was really coming into his own. It’s a shame we lost him. Hardy builds on his already stellar year with yet another deep and solid performance. I just had a few issues with the story arch and the fact that there are basically two stories to focus on that somehow intertwince by the films end. I enjoyed the film a lot, but the story just wasn’t as good as Lehane’s previous work such as Mystic River or Shutter Island. The camera work and acting however are top notch.

3.5/5