Given my current 'servitude' at Alexandra House, I thought I would start making inroads into my 'must watch' films list. Some of the films below are from that list and others simply follow my friends' recommendations:
1. Finally came around to watching Glengarry Glen Ross, that is primarily famous for Alec Baldwin's epic cameo speech. When I was learning how to write plays at University, we had to study this script, so I was glad to finally see the movie. Al Pacino is great, as you would expect, but I think Jack Lemmon as Shelley Levene really steals the limelight with his slobbering, hand-rubbing desperation. Would really recommend it to anyone remotely interested in the real estate business and/or wants to see a star studded cast.
2. I watched Gulaal recently, following the recommendation of one of my West Bengali friends, and I wasn't disappointed. Besides the acting and the depiction of Rajputana politics, I loved the character of Prithvi Bana portrayed by Piyush Mishra. He acts as the supposedly half-witted brother of Dukey Bana, the leader of the subversive Rajputana movement, but in reality he has the most perceptive and memorable lines; often delivered as lyrics in thinly-veiled political songs. In effect, he had a great resemblance to the 'Fool' in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Along with Baburao Ganpatrao Apte, I think he's one of my Indian film characters!
3. Another Al Pacino flick - The Devil's Advocate. The film starred Keanu Reeves pre-Matrix and it was Charlize Theron's first 'big film', so Al Pacino as the Devil is the biggest draw. It's possibly one of Pacino's less remarkable roles but nonetheless he has a memorable diatribe against 'God' towards the end of the film. I also loved his line about vanity being his favorite sin. Beyond the acting, the film left me with very mixed emotions. The film depicts the corruption of wealth and power in an intriguing way that builds throughout the film and thankfully, the Devil is not horned and fanged but I found the deeper theme concerning evil vs. free will to be superficial. In fact, I was slightly alarmed by the ultra-conservatism of the movie as it depicted most women as temptresses luring men to their doom, men as power-seekers and anyone with wealth as innately evil. It even went so far as to imply that lawyers should choose not to defend their clients if they are seemingly guilty (thus depriving them of the right to fair trial!).
4. Moving to a slightly older era, I watched North by Northwest by Alfred Hitchcock yesterday. It's supposed to be a precursor to the first 'spy thriller' and according to Ian Fleming, it was the dashing looks and charm of Cary Grant that inspired the creation of his novels' main protagonist, James Bond. I suppose as a movie from 1959, the cinematography was impressive and the sexual tension between Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant was risque but in the modern context, it is not particularly memorable. I watched it only a day ago but unlike the fantastic 'Kind Hearts and Coronets', I can't remember a single line of dialogue!
Next up, a Touch of Evil (1958) by one of my favorite directors, Orson Welles and Lost Horizon (1937), as recommended to me by an English friend.