I saw the new Sacha Baron Cohen comedy The Dictator to celebrate the end of semester, in the blind refusal that it also signaled the on-coming exams. Mr Baron Cohen, I salute you for being a ridiculously normal looking guy (with a British accent to boost!) and then being able to slip into one of your crazy characters like that - *insert finger snap*. Pretty unique considering most Hollywood comedic actors feel the need to be 'on show' even off screen.
I had low expectations for The Dictator because the trailer gave me a more formulaic feel than Sacha's previous endeavours such as Borat and I was scared it would lose the shock value that made his comedies so great. I was pleasantly surprised when he still managed to turn it around in this giant parody of extreme leaders that pop up on our news programs now and again. Highlights include a soundtrack of Arabic renditions of songs popular from film soundtracks and a Wii game tailor made for blood-thirsty tyrants. Props for attention to detail.
TL;DR VERDICT: 3/5 stars, good for short term laughs, not memorable
Next on my list is a little more adventurous, as I decided to sit down with my mum one night and take advantage of SBS's Bollywood season. And what was on that night was Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, which is a typical rom-com with a geeky guy getting a makeover for love.
I haven't ventured very much into Bollywood territory but at least this film let me have a proper look at the apparent 'Brad Pitt of Bollywood' aka Shahrukh Khan. All I can say is, I can see where he might be idolised....but his constant derpy expression seemed comical and over the top, even as a nerd in a comedy. Seriously I've seen glimpses of him in other movies and I swear that look is plastered on his face 24/7. Also I got creeped out by the fact that he's forty and his jaw-droppingly gorgeous leading ladies are all almost a generation younger.
|Apparently a makeover also means a return to the nineties|
Apart from not being used to the super long length of Bollywood movies, I found myself enjoying the catchy songs and cheesy romance. What really impressed me though, was the gorgeous cinematography, which increased my wanderlust towards the subcontinent of India. Loved the motif of yellow which drew everything from the bustling streets to the isolated temple together.
|Guh, I'm gushing all over the place at the landscape|
TL;DR VERDICT: 3/5 stars, cute cheesy rom-com with added spice (aha)
The third movie on my procrastination list was a classic that I really wanted to watch - Frank Miller's Sin City. Wow, what can I say. At first I was unaccustomed to the comic book stylisation and found it cheesy (I'm overusing this word in this post), but soon the gripping plot and tough characters grabbed me by the shoulders, shook me hard, and threw me into their monochrome world.
I relish any movie that thrills and chills me, and it's actually harder than you think even as I'm a wimp when it comes to violence. So the almost cartoon-like quality to the gritty underground world made me feel a bit less uneasy. Even so, I don't think I'll ever forget Elijah Wood's Kevin's creepy unwavering eyes. I had to pause the movie after his segment and resume the next day. Yes you may make fun of me now.
|Damn Frodo, you've really changed after Mordor|
Besides that, I loved the alternative noir elements, I loved the really well done interconnecting plots, and the casting was excellent (including the brilliant late Brittany Murphy). Well.....except for Alexis Bledel. Please, just stay in Gilmore Girls, you don't belong in Basin City, even if you were supposed to portray an innocent girl. I mean how can you compare to this:
And don't get me started on the awesome rocking soundtrack. If I played this track while doing chores it would be the most epic of tasks ever.
TL;DR VERDICT: 5/5 stars, black and white only serves to highlight all the awesome in Basin City
Last on my list is something I randomly picked out at this year's Sydney Film Festival. When I finished picking up the pieces of my heart after being rejected from volunteering there, I still decided to go back and see one film, being exam season after all. It took me so long to decide before a last minute addition to the program caught my eye and I purchased a ticket to Holy Motors.
Hmm....how to explain this French film? Basically a man, Oscar, rides around in a limousine every day and completes 'assignments', which involve him assuming a new identity and playing that character to its fullest. So I guess this is basically one big collection of character studies and a big meta exploration of acting and theatre itself. Only not for an audience, but for life.
Before I get too philosophical (I'm still confused about the film myself), this was an amazingly weird movie. Everything from street urchins to a motion capture artist to a family man is explored by the same man, and nothing is explained.
|Intriguing, beautiful and erotic|
But unlike a lot of pretentious ambiguous film festival entrants, this one still managed to coax out laughs from the audience, although we weren't really sure what we were laughing about, we knew it was partially intended. Perhaps it was the seriousness of A-list actresses in absolutely head-scratching situations:
|Eva Mendes is not fazed by strange companions when it comes to smoke breaks|
There isn't much to say except go out and see this, one way or another, just to see what kind of reaction it'll elicit in you. Oh, and Kylie Minogue's in it too.
TL;DR VERDICT: 4/5 stars, strange, intriguing, will leave you wanting an answer, but to what question?