The Pianist (2002)

Genre: Drama
Directed By: Roman Polanski
Written By: Ronald Harwood, Wladyslaw Szpilman
US Box Office: $32.5M
Runtime: 2 hr. 28 min.

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Roman Polanski at his best…

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Undoubtedly one of the best works of Roman Polanski, The Pianist tells us the true life story of a Polish Jewish Pianist who lost his family to the hatred of the Nazis during the holocaust. It is a true life adaptation of the autobiography “The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945,” Wladyslaw Szpilman. Szpilman is played by Adrien Brody. Szpilman was a accomplished composer and pianist who played at the polish radio station and was popular all over Poland before Germany had invaded. He was respected and admired greatly by the music lovers and general public.

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Brilliant performance by Adrien Brody, reminding us all of the endless sufferings caused by wars.

In the slow moving movie Szpilman and his family are forced along with the other Jewish families first into the Warsaw Ghetto, a district where the Jews are segregated and forced to live away from the general public. He is later separated from his family during Operation Reinhard and narrowly escapes death at the Nazi concentration camps. Szpilman manages to escape and hides in various locations with the help of kind hearted people among the ruins of Warsaw. Szpilman struggles to stay alive in the war torn ruins of Warsaw scavenging for food.

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Wladyslaw Szpilman the real life Pianist who survived the World War 2 and saw his family perish in the Nazi holocaust.

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One of the greatest directors, Roman Polanski who as a child was himself a victim of world war 2.

Life of Pi (2012)

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Life of Pi is a wonderful movie based on a fantasy adventure novel with the same name written by Yann Martel. The novel published in 2001 went along and won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction the following year. It was adapted into a movie and made into a visual miracle by the director Ang Lee in 2012.

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Cover designs of the Novel

The story centers on a young Indian boy named Pi, from Pondicherry who survives a shipwreck and is stranded in the Pacific Ocean on a rescue boat with a wild Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Pi tries to stay alive using the fear of Richard Parker to awake the survival instincts in him. The whole experience of Pi being stranded and left at mercy of the merciless ocean for survival brings some scenes into my memory of the movie Cast Away, the great classic of Tom Hanks. The movie went along and won four awards from eleven nominations, including Best Director at the 85th Academy Awards.

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Ang Lee with his Oscar

The role of Pi or Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel is made immortal by surprisingly a new young actor, Suraj Sharma. Suraj is a student of philosophy at St. Stephen’s College at Delhi.  Actually the character of Pi is depicted in three stages of his life, one as a young boy, a teenage boy and as an adult. The teenage boy is played by Suraj Sharma and the adult by Irrfan Khan. When seeing the movie I was wondering to myself, how could you make such a movie? Ang Lee has gone ahead with Life of Pi and made himself one of the greatest movie directors of contemporary cinema.

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Suraj Sharma, The Rise of a New Star

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehh2opH7LwE

There is a song in the movie named Pi’s Lullaby which is a beautiful and melodious musical composition. It was composed by Mychael Danna and sung by Bombay Jayashri. The lyrics are in Tamil and was written by Bombay Jayashri. The song has been nominated in the Original Song category for the Oscar Awards of 2013.

Life of Pi has opened a new chapter in art of storytelling, as a magical story of adventure and survival in both its forms, the novel and the movie.

Interesting facts about the movie:

  • In 2010 Barack Obama wrote a letter directly to author Martel, describing Life of Pi as “an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling”
  • There were no actually shooting with the boy and a real Bengal tiger in the boat on the Pacific Ocean. Richard Parker itself is created and brought alive using very high tech CGI technology. The realistic dark blue waters of the Pacific Ocean is actually the water of a big swimming pool.
  • There is controversy with the musical composition of “Pi’s Lullaby”. The Irayimman Thampi Memorial Trust alleged that the first eight lines of the Bombay Jayashri’s song Pi’s Lullaby were not an original composition but a translation into Tamil of the Omanathinkal Kidavo. “Omanathinkal Kidavo” is a very popular lullaby in the Malayalam Language and was composed by Irayimman Thampi on the birth of the King of Travancore, Maharajah Swathi Thirunalm, Well, Bombay Jayashri says its her own creation. Whoever created it, the composition is a beautiful work of music.

Prometheus (2012)

Drama, Action & Adventure, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Directed By:  Ridley Scott

Written By:  Damon Lindelof, Jon Spaihts

Prometheus is the latest movie from Ridley Scott, director of Alien and Blade Runner. Anyone who had seen the stunning sci-fiction horror classic Alien (released in 1979) will understand what the power and impact a well-directed, scripted and planned sci-fiction movie can have on generations of fans. The success of the 1979 Alien lead to the sequels Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992), and Alien Resurrection (1997). Later also combining Predator and Aliens creating the subsequent prequels Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007). Most of the die-hard fans of Aliens will be trying hard to find a link between Aliens and Prometheus, in the hope that it will be a sequel. This is just what the makers of the movie had been careful not to include in the trailers, so that Prometheus will have an identity of its own as a unique creation. Although after viewing it one clearly concludes that it is a presequel of Aliens, although it is not completely clear how. I am sure the next sequel of Prometheus will give a clearer picture what Scott and his story writers have in their sci- fiction minds…

Well, Scott is back again with Prometheus following up on the mystery of the aliens and the unknown which he revealed before 33 years. The story is intriguing as it raises the questions of the origins of mankind. In Prometheus Scott is trying to fuse the concept of the highly aggressive extraterrestrial aliens with that of the theory of ancient astronauts. According to this theory, which was first introduced by Erich Von Daniken in his book Chariots of the Gods, highly intelligent and advanced extra-terrestrial beings visited planet earth in the distant pre historic past and influenced the though process and thus the development of mankind. Scott goes a step further and brings this concept of intelligent beings visiting earth to the genesis of life itself. The first part of the movie shows the prologue in prehistoric times when these ancient beings visiting the earth so as to embed their DNA into the waters which later leads to the creation of life and later to the evolution of the human race.  So Scott goes ahead and creates a fascinating sci fiction movie which is bound to have sequels as Aliens did.

Actually it feels that Scott has borrowed a lot of concepts and brought it together in his new movie. Like the concept of intelligent being visiting the earth is from the Ancient Astronaut theory from Erich Von Daniken, the idea of the alien spacecraft covered up so that it won’t be identified seems similar to that in the climax of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Prometheus wasn’t as impressive and thrilling as the Aliens, but it does make a statement with its innovative storyline and amazing 3D visuals and has enough to make it a blockbuster.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

PG, 1 hr. 44 min.

Action & Adventure, Animation, Kids & Family

Directed By: Steven Spielberg

Written By: Hergé, Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish

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Just saw The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. Anyone who used to read the Tintin comic books during their school days will love the feeling when the long gone Tintin suddenly comes to life and that too in high definition with astounding animation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ua_4ajpP58

The movie is made using the motion capture technology and guess who directed it… none other than the legendary Steven Spielberg. Nice to know that even Spielberg loved the Adventures of Tintin that he went all the way to create an animated masterpiece for the comic.

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The movie is based on The Adventures of Tintin, a series of comic books created by Belgian artist Herge (Georges Remi). Actually the movie is a mixed combination of on three of the original comic books: The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), The Secret of the Unicorn (1943), and Red Rackham’s Treasure (1944). Its highlights of these three comics have been brought together in such a manner The Secret of the Unicorn becomes a completely new chapter in the Tintin saga.

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This is the first fully animated movie form Spielberg. The groundbreaking visual effects is done by Weta Digital based in New Zealand. The very firm that has given stunning visual efffects in other mega hits like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, iRobot, Avatar, King Kong, The Avengers, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and many more. Nothing less can be expected for Weta Digital for their exceptional recreation of the simple cartoon character to the 3D animated Tintin full of life and vibrancy. The movie is a fitting tribute to the artist Herge (who passed away in 1983) and his wonderful creation The Adventures of Tintin.

In Time (2011)

Director and Written by: Andrew Niccol
Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 109 min

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EQ4-ioY7IyA

The first sci-fi movie from Niccol who also filmed No Country for Old Men with a different and new concept. In the future, the monetary system has been replaced from hard and plastic currency to time. So literally time is money and power. Aging stops at the age of 25 as humans has been bioengineered by some sort of advanced technology from birth.

So the poor like Will Salas (played by Justin Timberlake) take it on day by day, hour for hour… working, begging, borrowing time for an interest or stealing it to see the light of another day. If you run out of time then you fall dead. The rich who got lots of time keep living for hundreds of years and provided they take care of their health can live for centuries.

The system which is actually corrupt keeps a thorough control over this system through time keepers, some like the one played by Cillian Murphy who has spent years of the life dedicated for seeing that the rich live comfortably and making the system work. They are the police of this age.

The way the time is allocated and used on a daily basis is a matter of interest for Christians. I guess this is one of the first visualisation of the concept mentioned in the Bible about the mark of the Beast and its use on a daily basis when the Anti Christ sets up his own system of governance as prophesied in the Book of Revelations.

“He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead.” Revelation 13:16.

Time is allotted to each human as a digital green arm clock which is interestingly on the hands. If anyone is not part of the system then simply they cannot exist as it is the basis for all monetary transactions. Is the movie trying to visualize this concept from the book of Revelations and has it been borrowed from the Bible?

The movie could have been made more alluring and gripping as the story is a very good one and also has an appealing cast.

The Last Airbender (2010)

Genre: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Kids & Family
Running Time: 1 hr. 43 min.
In Theaters: Jul 1, 2010 Wide
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan

Just saw the The Last Airbender. This is a fantasy movie based on hit cartoon television series Avatar: The Last Airbender which was aired for three seasons on Nickelodeon TV channel from 2005 to 2008.

To avoid confusion with James Cameron’s Avatar, the title was changed from Avatar: The Last Airbender to simply The Last Airbender. The first part of a planed trilogy, the animated story was brought to life by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense). The screenplay is written by him and so in the production and direction.

I felt the movie had an ambiance of the The Golden compass and it even came in the same Genre, and of course the story is different. I liked the concept of physical control or bending abilities of the 4 elements Air, Water, Fire and Earth by humans. I guess such concepts of the control of the elements come from our desire or fantasy to control these elements physically with our physical body and mind…. which ofcourse is not possible for us to do as the laws of nature forbid us from having such powers. So to see a movie in such rules of nature are broken and the human mind and body has control of the elements and its physics is beautiful and alluring. The kids will love it for sure.

I checked the reviews on the movie on the net which is not all on the bright side. I don’t blame them. The acting, dialogues and narration in some scenes seems to dead like. But the animation effects of the “bending” of the elements were very effective I must say. I guess Shyamalan did cover some of his short comings by the brilliant special effects. The movie could have surely been made more effective in its presentation, narration, dialogues and more engaging actors in delivering the story with a stronger punch that both adults and kids would have admired it for long. But as said earlier this is not the case.

There is a controversy regarding the casting of the characters in the movie. The critics cry that Shyamalan took to racism when giving roles to the lead characters and excluded Asian or American-Asian actors from the main roles. also as the basic concepts used in the movie of the Elements and also all the martial arts stuff evolve from the cultures of the East.

Hidalgo (2004)

Tagline: The True Story Of A Man Who Went Halfway Around The World To Find Himself.
Runtime: 2 hr. 15 min.
Genre: Action & Adventure
Theatrical Release: Mar 5, 2004 Wide
US Box Office: $67.2M
Synopsis: Held yearly for centuries, the Ocean of Fire–a 3,000 mile survival race across the Arabian desert–was a challenge restricted to the finest Arabian… [More]
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Omar Sharif, Louise Lombard, Said Taghmaoui
Director: Joe Johnston

I love the art of cinema and believe that we are blessed to be born in an age when this form of art had blossomed into its totality, revealing its awesome beauty and power to entertain and influence the human mind. So I do see a lot of movies and I must confess that some movies are very inspiring. So inspiring that it teaches us immortal values through the story it tells us… So inspiring that my hand moves and takes hold of my pen so that I can write a review on them, so that others may know of such a wonderful creation… and I must say that one of such movies I had seen is Hidalgo (2004).

Hidalgo tells us the story of Frank T. Hopkins, born to an American father and a Red Indian mother and his horse Hidalgo. Hidalgo is a mustang breed of horse which were seen in the wild in Northern America and used wildly by the Red Indian tribes. Although the horse is difficult to tame it is beautiful, powerful and robust. But it is disliked by the American colonist as they find the horse to be a mixed breed and “colored”. But Frank loves his wild horse and often used to go on long distance races which always won. He and his horse becomes famous in the Western world for their long wins .

The movie shows a scene in which American soldiers disarm and massacre a group of Red Indian tribes. This scene reminded me of the fact the Red Indians were massacred in large numbers before the British colonists occupied their native land. I remember reading somewhere that about 15 million Red Indians were systematically eradicated by the whites… a fact which will remain in the history of America as long as its exists. The fact that the foundation of this nation is laid in the blood of the natives who once freely walked that land. So now the red Indians are reduced to a minority who live in the various pockets of United States of America.

Back to the story… The Americans decided to eradicate the mustang breed of horses as they feel its wild and cannot be tamed and I guess also also because they simply didnt like it as the Indian’s horse. A turning point comes in the story when a Arab messenger is sent from an Arabian Sheik to challenge Frank and his horse. A 3000 miles long distance race is held in the Middle East by the Sheik or King which is called the Great race of the Bedouin. This is a survival race and the participants have to go through an extremely dry and hot desert area know as the “Ocean of Fire”. and The Sheik is troubled and feels dishonored that a horse from the breed of mustang and a American cowboy is holding a title as the World’s greatest endurance horse and rider. So he challenges Frank and his horse to come all the way to Arabia and take part in the race. This is the background of the story and I don’t want to waste the thrill of you seeing the whole movie. I recommend everyone to see this movie… a must see.

The main character of Frank T. Hopkins is played by Viggo Mortensen. At first I was not able to recognize Viggo. It was only after a while that I realized that this is “Aragorn” from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. His acting is passionate and worthy of praise. The scene in which he reaches the middle of the Ocean of Fire is my favorite. Hidalgo is wounded and falls, the rider is thirsty, tired and weary. When he takes his gun to shoot his horse, he sees his ancestors come dancing around him as a mirage… bringing with them hope and their blessings. The special effects here is brief but outstanding. A person who has been to a desert and seen a mirage will say so, and I have.

This movie teaches us again the values of the relationship between man and his fellow creatures.

Some of the quotes from the movie:

Frank T. Hopkins: Mister… you can say anything you want about me. I’m gonna have to ask you not to talk about my horse that way.

[the Sheik offers to shake Frank’s hand]
Frank T. Hopkins: What about your ability to tell the future?
Sheik Riyadh: If I had the ability to foretell the future, perhaps I would have bet on a painted horse