Blindspot: Sholay (1975)

Sholay - 1

The reason why I love films like The RockDrunken MasterThe Good The Bad and The Ugly and even Blazing Saddles is that more than anything else the films have that “did you see that?” quality to them. They’re ridiculous, flashy and keep us moving in a way that doesn’t ask too much of the audience. Sholay is a film that does just this and possibly more. Infusing western cinema with the idea of the vast western, riffing on well known motifs, and sometimes even lifting complete shots from films such as Once Upon a Time in the West and The Magnificent Seven we see the answer to the question of what would be if India adopted Westerns with a tone of Blaxspoitation cinema and threw some musical sequences in the middle of it all.

It seems apt that I make Sholay my blindspot entry from the month of May, because it feels like the perfect summer movie. It feels as if someone was in a lab constructing this film from all the best elements of entertainment for maximum enjoyment while at the same time lost in how to reign in any sense of control over what they were doing. When half-way through the film we discover the reason for Thakur’s (Sanjeev Kumar) reason for his need to have Gabbar (Amjad Khan) captured you feel as though we’ve seen a too much. Continue reading

Nine Best Non-Chase Scenes in Cars

Locke

This week, people who live in places with good theatres, are going to get to enjoy the latest Tom Hardy effort, Locke. As far as I can tell it’s Tom Hardy on the phone fixing life problems in one night while taking a leisurely drive around town. That sounds amazing, mainly because it’s simple, but mostly because it’s Tom Hardy just talking to me calmly. I think it would do good as a late night film on TV that will lull me to sleep and I can imagine how his voice was digitized and manipulated to be the Bane joke it is today, I’m really glad we’re past that gag.

Anyways, it made me wonder about cars in film; and more importantly non chase scenes in films in cars. Cars are a big part of the world culture, but for the most part they’re used as cut aways in transport or straight up crazed action scenes. However, this week I wanted to highlight some great scenes in films that take place in cars (that aren’t chase scenes).

9. “Maybe it’s the power trying to come on?”; Jurassic Park (1993)

Yes we all remember the T-Rex chasing Goldblum down the path and people shouting them to go faster. However, what we all remember more than that is the water vibrating and being told to pay close attention. I keep remembering how much time they spent just sitting in the cars just waiting to see what’ll happen and as the tension builds it gets more and more glorious on screen for us.

8. “This is bat country”;
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Remember that time that Johnny Depp gave Spider-Man a lift to Las Vegas? I do. It was in bat country. We all adore Gilliam’s drug infused story of Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo adventures to Las Vegas, and more that recognizing his insanity as he slips in an out of inner to outer monologue due to his own drugged filled state.

7. “Pull up here”;
Gun Crazy (1950)

Earlier this year, with True Detective running and a great long take being revealed to us all half way through the season, the internet ran into a big panic filled nerd rage over long takes in cinema and this one kept coming up. It’s great. After about forty or so minutes of build up we finally get to the first real bank robbery and we don’t ever really get to see it. We’re stuck outside with Annie as she’s in the car waiting for Barton to come out with the money. This nice continuous shot from the backseat of the car helps add tension to what is already a very tense moment.

6. Shot Marvin in the Face;
Pulp Fiction (1992)

A reminder of all the things I love about Tarantino filmmaking. It’s holding us with a tangential conversation about Cops and how it isn’t always what you think it means and book-ending it all with someone being shot in the face to the point of a blood filled explosion in the car. It’s what Tarantino does best. Distracts us from the big money-shot to the point of being excited and shocked by it when it happens.

5. “Could’ve been a contendor”;
On the Waterfront (1954)

I forget sometimes how great just letting actors role with scenes can be. Here we see Brando explain clearly to his brother what it was he did to him. It wasn’t about anything other than the fact that he was the one that did it to him. He asked him to dive thinking it was okay, but it wasn’t. It showed him that the world wasn’t fit for him and that didn’t just lose him on money or fame, it lost him on life.

4. “How about some Bohemian Rhapsody?”; Wayne’s World (1992)

I actually can honestly remember when I first saw this movie and this scene has always been the one that stuck out. Also, I hadn’t ever heard Queen before and had no clue what this music was. I assumed it was a fake song they made up for the movie. Cut to me more than a decade later discovering Queen and enjoying it even more.

3. “You’re damn unlucky”;
I Saw the Devil (2010)

Remember when I said I wanted to focus on non chase scenes. I consider this not counting. Here we’re treated to one of those special kung-fu-esque moments in cinema where in a tight space it becomes even more glorious to watch our hero (or in this case villain) fight his way out of a corner.

2. Trunk Love;
Out of Sight (1998)

About a month ago the internet was a buzz with conversations about sexy films (with the release of Nymphomaniac). I was touting Take This Waltz and now somehow I’m saddened that I forgot this amazing film by Soderbergh. Something about this scene of Lopez and Clooney being locked in the trunk trading lines and just kind of being status quo about the whole situation just works. It’s a scene that exists for us to know that the chemistry between these two characters are real and make us want them to be together knowing that it’s improbable with their vocations being on opposite ends of life.

1. “We Can Make It”;
Children of Men (2006)

Children of Men - car

Note, the scene was not embeddable from YouTube. Go watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfBSncUspBk

This is a film that will live on longer that me I imagine and this scene is one of the many reasons why. In this continuous shot all taking place within the car as we sit with all these characters attempting to get out of town to save humanity it begins calmly enough with some laughs and fun, but it quickly turns sour as some violent attackers descend on them and it becomes a state of panic. I read FIlm Crit Hulk’s writing about long takes and it helped me understand why it is we as a community of film lovers flock to them, it’s their natural ability to create tension when at times there isn’t even any to begin with. This scene is one where it feels not just that the scene is creating tension as much as it’s teaching us about this technique as it’s all about tension building.

Which scenes did I miss out?

 

Netlflix Selections: Apr 14 – Apr 20

Far Out

As you would’ve noticed I’ve been on and off… here’s my next attempt to turn this writing machine that is my brain back on. I want to keep this netflix column going, so here we go.

Short Term 12 - PShort Term 12

Do you like feeling things? Have you not felt them in a while? Then possibly this one will kick start that good-old emotion engine you’ve been neglecting as of late.

Last year people were really hyping this small indie darling that did a big round of the festival circuit and I was really beginning to worry that it was all hot air. Happily (or not so much if you take on the subject matter as seriously as the film does) the film was anything but that. With some fascinating characters that exist in its world

Laurence AnywaysLaurence Anyways - P

What happens when a man decides he wants to be a woman. More than that, what happens in relation to his girlfriend? His job as a school teacher? His life?

While I don’t think these questions are new to cinema, Laurence Anyways remains an interesting jaunt again into the world of sexuality and society’s view of it.

 

Far Out - PFar Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story

Now for the documentation out there who loves discussing art and the source of passions for the artist this movie is perfect. It deals with the struggles of making art and trying to figure out not just how to inspire it but how an artist deals with this moments of not being inspired.

When you add in the fact that the art we see, as Tomi Ungerer was one of the biggest children’s book writers/artists of his time, is down right phenomenal you can’t help but be intrigued.

Here Comes the DevilHere Comes the Devil - P

Hmmm… Should I recommend this one?

Here’s one that I caught at TIFF 2 years back and haven’t seen since. It’s about a couple of children that are lost one day in a mountain and when found are unlike what they were before. I’m noticing more and more that Mexican horror is becoming more prevalent among the more beloved horror films of today and I really like some of the ideas that this film plays. Especially when dealing with some fears of the unknown as it relates to what you want and don’t want to see in your own home.

It’s really moody, really slow at times, and low budget enough that it could be off putting to some. However, if you’re that guy who digs into horror like the cookie monster does into cookies and you haven’t seen this one then maybe you can give this a try.

As a note while I was off Netflix also added Michael Winterbottom’s EVERYDAY. You should all watch that.

Netflix Selections: Mar 3 – Mar 16

Archer - S3

I feel like I made the right decision to repurpose this column as a bi-weekly post as opposed to a weekly one. So much more content to sift through and share in two weeks than in one (obviously).

While I started this feature to highlight the good that Netflix is for us as media lovers I must say that if you focus mainly on what’s new to the system it can be hard some weeks to find those gems. Regardless here’s what I recommend you take a peek at if you’ve got the time.

Archer - S4 - PosterArcher: Season 4 (TV)

If you’re not watching Archer I weep for you. This show is probably the best satirical spoof spy piece of work that we will ever see. I’m happily enjoying Season 5 (that’s currently airing on FX) where they go Vice; but Season 4 is remarkably special as what we’ve been seeing the first 3 seasons comes to a head in a way that you just can’t imagine.

It’s just funny at it’s best, and if you love cocky one line spitting spies that are actually kind of horrible at their job while being the best (I know that makes no sense, but for Archer it does) have to navigate space, underwater cities and cyborgs then this is the show you’ve been missing all your life.

How I Live Now (2013)How I Live Now - Poster

Here’s a title I caught at TIFF last year and I feel like I’ve mellowed on it from then. The film follows the typical “uppity” American teenage girl who’s asked to spend a summer with her English distant family who happen to live in the countryside. As she’s getting more and more into it, and a certain someone in town, World War 3 (or should I saw WWIII?) breaks out and all hell breaks loose.

The film wasn’t my favourite at the festival and I remain under the belief that it’s an okay film. Which means it’s probably worth a revisit, and more than worth your time if you’ve got nothing better to look at for two or so hours.

Bad Boys - PosterBad Boys (1995)

We love to throw some bad movie jokes at Michael Bay, but what he did with the Bad Boys films are probably the greatest things that could’ve ever happened to action cinema in the 90s.

Martin Lawrence is a forgotten name in comedy, Will Smith is missed at times, but what I love about cinema is that you can always pop in a classic and hang out with those friends you haven’t seen in a while. Here Bay gives us two of the best buddy cops to ever have hit the screen with balls to the wall explosions and car chases in the best of ways.

PS. Bad Boys II is better.

Stir Crazy (1980)Stir Crazy - Poster

If you want to talk about comedy duos then the stint that Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder had together in the the late 70s to 80s are well remembered. Here’s a lesser film of theirs that brought me many laughs in my younger days when they just couldn’t stop playing Pryor’s films on cable.

If you thought Pryor and Wilder were funny on the run in Silver Streak then you should see them when they get put in jail in this film.

Netflix Picks of the Week: Feb 25 – Mar 2

Blue is the Warmest Color

After these first two months of watching the strategies of Netflix and how they throw titles into their magic box for us to enjoy I’m starting to believe that it would be more advantageous for me to make this feature an every other week-ly post… considering it. I realize that I missed last week, while I was deadly (not really deadly) sick and as I skimmed the titles that were released the week previous there was a whole lot of nothing worth sharing, unless I started to point towards just what was available in general as opposed to newly available. Which as I think about it I may start throwing into the mix here.

However, with a new month beginning (the best month) Netflix has thrown a lot of films up (a lot older films) for us all to enjoy. Which gives me a chance to dig around and see what people may have not seen throughout the years. See my recommendations below:

Blue is the Warmest Color - PosterBlue is the Warmest Color (2013)

I finally got to watch this one this weekend gone by, after being one of my biggest regrets from the last TIFF, and while I wasn’t impressed as heavily as many others were with the film as being the reinvention of cinema or whatnot it’s a damn good love story none the less. If you’re in to really intimate love stories and really harsh emotional roller coasters that you’ll buy into it is that and more. Throw in some lady bits and you’ve got a three hour long French film.

 

Dirty Dancing (1987)Dirty Dancing - Poster

“Nobody puts baby in a corner…”

If only all my life situations were solved with that line my life would be set. It’d also be quite boring I feel.

I love this movie. It’s one of those cheesy films from the 80s that works on every level. It’s an engaging love story that you’ll love, it’s a great dance film and it entertains at every corner. If you happen to be that one of your group which hasn’t seen this classic consider yourself primed to give it a click on the Netflix thingy…

The Ice StormThe Ice Storm (1997)

I saw this film for the first time a couple of years ago and I can’t stop swooning over it. Ang Lee has slowly won me over as a filmmaker who’s more and more intricate in how he weaves interpersonal relationships in his films and this is one of his best.

There are so many films that we watch are really just about family. It’s about all of those awkward pauses that you find yourself having in conversations with your family that in any other context with any other person that you don’t know so well would truly be awkward, but since it’s with your family it’s ok. The Ice Storm is a film about the family and how no matter how messed up certain things can be at any given moment somehow they all manage to work out and at the end of the night you’re no longer hating your brother or your son or your mother anymore.

Dr. Strangelove (1964)Dr Strangelove

If only we did satire this well today… that’s harsh, we do, but this one is special to me and I can’t help but think of it as extraordinary in a way that I nostalgically will remember certain films from my childhood and would love to remember them as being that good. This film is transformative. It’s probably the number one film from the 60s that I feel would be the best introduction to young movie lovers who are reluctant to go into canon, because they exist.