Review Digest #4

10Apr07

     

Reality Bites: Ben Stiller (1994)

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/reality_bites/

Lelaina Pierce: I was really going to be somebody by the time I was 23

I’d been dying to see this movie for a very long time now; reason being that I have a soft spot for coming of age stories a la Garden State AND it had ‘Natalie Portman of the last decade‘, namely Winona Ryder.

This film is one of those cult classics generations to come will enjoy because even though it seems dated, it remains the quintessential coming of age tale about 20 somethings trying to find meaning in an absurd world of jobs, love and money (Alright, I just made that up).

There are quite a few interesting characters like the closet homosexual scared to come out to his folks (Steve Zahn), the flighty girl slowly consumed by the fear of AIDS (Janeane Garofalo), the hot shot executive who somehow isn’t quite the good guy (Ben Stiller), the wannabe film maker (Winoana Ryder) and the intelligent/seemingly enlightened dope head (Ethan Hawke).

There are a few forced moments of sentimentality and quite a few cliches, but somehow I managed to overlook all that simply because the film feels right when you’re in your twenties. Existential angst, confounding career choices et al.

Top it off with a pretty darn good soundtrack and a number of excellent scenes (an amazing monologue by Hawke and a dance to the song, ‘Hey Sharona‘).

One of those films you just have to watch even though it’s pretty cheesy.

7/10

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The Namesake: Mira Nair (2007)

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/namesake/

I’ve read Jhumpa Lahiri’s book but somehow I preferred the film a whole lot more.

It’s an ode to Indian parenthood and family. If you go in expecting a plot or the traditional Desi-American comedy, you will be sorely disappointed like almost everybody else in the theatre. It has a sort of episodic structure wherein the story of an Indian family settled in New York gradually unfolds. Tabu and Irfan Khan are simply amazing, playing the kind of couples who got married in the late 70s who actually fell in love after marriage. The acting is restrained, yet deeply moving. A few scenes really do affect you.

As time moves on (on screen of course), their son Gogol Ganguli (a not so impressive Kal Penn) grows up to hate his name. His ‘namesake‘ is the Russian philosopher, Nikolai Gogol whose work had a profound yet overly dramatized effect on Gogol’s father.

The third act is pretty moving and bad things do happen. This isn’t a feel good film per se and the ending is pretty ambiguous like the book.

That said, I really did like the film for Tabu and Mira Nair’s amazing direction. She being an expatriate herself was able to bring out the nuances of second generation Indians living abroad. Poignant and occasionally moving. A film for the slightly more serious cinema goer.

8/10

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4 Responses to “Review Digest #4”

  1. I dunno about Name Sake, should watch the movie sometime, but Reality Bites is one of my MOST fav movies. And btw, was a huge fan of Winona =)! She’s wow!!

    It’s almost like Garden State for you youngsters =P! Ok, that does make me sound old. But for the pain I went through today, I think I have aged quite a bit =(!!

  2. Here the comes the word (Garden State) again.

  3. 3 Ravenent

    Hey Bips, that’s [i]two[/i] words right there! 🙂

  4. 4 ruhi

    I remember reading this book ages back when it was published. I am finally going to watch this movie tomorrow. And I am very excited. 🙂


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