Yet Another Top 5 Most Underrated Romantic Movies of All Time

Diving straight to the point to save some time and energy. 

1) Stage Beauty
I love movies that are set in a different era. Watching them is like time travel and the probable reason why I hated Marie Antoinette (the one with Kirsten Dunst). Anyway, Stage Beauty is a well-acted and nicely scripted movie. It stars Billy Crudup and Claire Danes in central roles. Set in the 17th century, the movie is about theatre politics. Women, in that era, were not allowed to perform on stage. Hence, men took over and played the female characters. One person who wants to change it all is Maria (Danes), who has a passion for performing on stage. In the process, she manages to anger Ned (Crudup) who is famed as the stage beauty of the day.

    What I love about the movie?

Apart from the script, it’s the crackling chemistry between the leads that makes me go all gooey inside. It’s therefore, not a surprise that Crudup and Danes actually started dating after the movie was completed.

A special mention of the scene where their chemistry is sizzling enough to set the temperatures soaring.

Stage beauty

2) Inventing the Abbotts

Another movie set in a different era. Another movie starring Billy Crudup. Another movie about love. You get the picture, don’t you?

It’s the 1950s, and two brothers Jacey (Billy Crudup) and Doug (Joaquin Phoenix) are in love. The Abbott sisters are pretty and wealthy and out of both Jacey’s and Doug’s league. But they do fall in love and complications arise.

    What I love about the film?

While it’s essentially a movie about love, Inventing the Abbotts is not just about matters of the heart. It’s a brilliant commentary on the social mores of that period when love was dictated by social standards. It’s also about control and freedom. Take the three sisters, for instance. One’s a rebel, bent on bringing shame to the family; the other one is too meek to give up her own life; the third one is the more practical and sensible of the lot.

And I like movies about misfits. Joaquin Phoenix and Liv Tyler are cutely weird and I’m sure you too would root for them.

Inventing the abbotts

3) Tristan + Isolde
I’m usually not a big fan of epic romances. They are always so melodramatic and predictable, but in this case I made an exception because I adore James Franco.

So the story isn’t path breaking. The handsome warrior meets and falls in love with the princess, who returns his affections (who wouldn’t?). But when it comes to choosing between love and honor, there is heartbreak, pain and tears. The two, do get back together and what follows is more heartbreak, pain and tears. It was supposed to be a tragic love story, but I can’t claim I was moved to tears.

    What I love about this film?

Despite what I said, there’s still so much to like this movie. The music is well suited to the mood and Rufus Sewell is great as always. Plus, there’s James Franco. I only wished they had found someone who had a better chemistry with him.

P.S. Henry Cavill stars in a small role too.

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4) Ladies in Lavender

There’s something really special about a movie that attempts to tell a story in a really simple manner. In the process, it becomes a far more poignant tale than the pretentious movies that shamelessly manipulate our emotions. Ladies in Lavender is a master class in simple storytelling.

Two aging sisters find a young man washed ashore near their house. Over the next few days, they nurse him back to health and discover he’s a violinist from Poland. The younger sister eventually falls in love with him. But by the time the movie ends, it’s back to normal routine life for the two spinsters.

    What I love about the film?

A movie that stars Maggie Smith and Judi Dench has brilliance written all over it. Every dialogue, every movement and every gesture seems so natural that you’d forget you’ve been watching a movie. Big props to Daniel Bruhl, too, for holding it against these two powerful actresses. His vulnerability, innocence and naturalness prove why he’s such a wonderful actor.

Oh! And I did shed a few tears by the time the credits rolled in.

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5) Room with a View

Maggie Smith and Judy Dench, again. How I love these two!

Based on a book written by E.M. Forster, Room with a View is about a young woman trapped in a world of proprietary and archaic customs. Imagine this. If an unmarried couple is found kissing, they would have to be married! Where’s Henry Cavill when you need him?

Anyway, the young girl is played to perfection by Helena Bonham Carter. I couldn’t believe how young she was, before all the eccentricity started. The man she’s in love with is played by Julian Sands. They have a nice chemistry and the supporting cast is good too.

    What I love about this movie?

As much as I cringe to admit, my best moment from the movie was this scene. Love how dreamy the guy sounds and how perfect the moment is. After all the struggles and turbulences, Lucy and George are finally in the world of their own. A world where they can look outside, without feeling the pressures of society tying them down. It could have been very mushy, but turned out differently.

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So here you go. 5 underrated romantic movies that you should catch, if you haven’t already.

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3 Top Office Movies

Friday and my mind has already gone for a weekend it seems. Summer vacations are approaching in Europe and that means there will be less workload for me in the coming days. It also means that I’ll have more time to update this blog and do random stuff at work.

While I’m at it, I was wondering what all random things I can do to kill time. Hmmm, this should be fun.  Let’s see. I can book a meeting room for an entire day and stream movies to watch them on the projector. Sweet. Or I can spend some more time at the gym to lose all those kilos. Naah, the first option seems far better. Unfortunately, none of them are going to work out and I’m probably going to waste my time browsing FB or reading inane tweets from people I don’t like.

Anyway, let me bring my mind back to where it should belong. The blog, yes, the blog. Since I’m thinking too much about my office, how about a list of workplace movies I loved? Mmmm, not very sure how it will turn out. But what the hell.

Here you go.

The Devil Wears Prada
There’s something about this movie that makes it so endearing to me. Oh wait! I know what it is. I can relate to Anne Hathaway’s character on so many levels that it’s a little weird. Like her, I’ve always seen myself typing away to earn a living (I’m a writer, if you didn’t know). I’m also extremely callous in terms of what I put on my back. No fashionista, this side. And of course, I had a monster manager once.

The first time I watched it, I laughed out loud every time Meryl Streep assigned one impossible task after another to wreak havoc in Hathaway’s life. Soon enough, I recalled the nights I had to stay back in office to finish Herculean tasks because D wanted that way. I had become a size zero during those 2 years. And in the end much like Streep, D told me that she saw a great deal of herself in me. Like Hathaway I never believed her though. 

What to love about this movie?
Almost everything. There’s humor, fashion and some great performances. The only complain I have is the lack of good looking guys.

Horrible Bosses

This was one was great fun. 3 guys facing a difficult time at work because all 3 have horrible bosses. It’s a great example of how art imitates life. And they have the worst of all type: the calculative devil, the spoilt son of the boss, and the perverted one (she’s a doc, by the way). In my 7 years of experience, I have met only the first kind and trust me I count my blessings. I really don’t know how I’ll react if my boss was a punk or made a pass at me.

Anyway when the 3 friends think they have had enough, they decide to take the extreme step. How it all turns out is something I’m not going to spoil here. Watch it and you will understand.

What to love about this movie?
The clever lines. Like the one when the guys hearing their friend complaining about workplace harassment tell him that his situation really doesn’t sound too bad. I had a chuckle.

500 Days of Summer

I know, I know. This one’s not really about the workplace trials and tribulations. But it is still an office romance and a movie I had recommended to a lovelorn colleague of mine who had a massive crush on this girl from another department. For pragmatic people like me, this one is far more realistic than some soppy office rom-coms. It tells that while love can inspire creativity, reality can bring us closer to our passions. The only glitch is you don’t get to bump into cute guys like Gordon Joseph Levitt at work. Instead you get pesky douchebags who you are better off avoiding.

What to love about the movie?
It’s reality. You get real people going through real situations.

4 Wonderful Movies that You May not Have Heard About

Sometimes it’s really hard to decide what you want to watch. I usually do a random Google search, find some options, weigh each on Imdb and then take a call. Sometimes it’s a very bad decision and I end up wasting a couple of precious hours of my life. Other times, I stumble upon movies that few would have probably heard about.

So to make your life a little easier, I have compiled this list. If you are bored, alone and confused, try one of these.

Ladies of Lavender
I watched this movie for the first time when I was in college. Truth be told, I had very little idea about Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. Plus the movie was a little slow. Anyway as I started watching it, I found myself in the world inhabited by its central characters. 2 elderly sisters live in a picturesque little village where they have hardly anything to do. Till of course, something happens that changes their lives. The change is brought upon by a young man who’s washed ashore. The sisters take him in, nursing him back to health and what follows is a series of love, heartbreak and epiphany.

Swimming with the Sharks

A really smart movie about office politics, ambition and greed. This one stars one of my all-time favorites, Kevin Spacey in the leads and as usual he is superb. It’s especially interesting if you have watched and liked American Beauty as much as I did. Here Spacey is a far cry from the character he played in American Beauty. He’s instead much like the character he played in Horrible Bosses.

Thank You For Smoking

If you love dark humor, you gotta watch this one. It’s not every day you come across a smart comedy that doesn’t take you for granted. Smart dialogues, a tight screenplay and a GREAT performance from Aaron Eckheart makes this one a must watch if you enjoy sarcasm.

Room with a View
Now if you love romantic movies, you might have watched this one. Though most people I know haven’t. Anyway this one is based on a novel by E.M. Forster. It provides a great insight into how society has evolved over the years. Back when women were supposed to marry for a better future and not necessarily love. Or when rigid rules confined women to the four walls. People still fell in love but not everybody had the guts to follow their heart. Luckily in this one, they do!

Top 5 reasons to love Korean movies

My initiation to Korean movies is fairly recent. I watched Old Boy couple of years ago, and that was it. It was only recently that I started devouring one Korean movie after another. In the last couple of months, I must have watched some 7-8 great movies. My colleagues are bewildered by my strange fascination with Korean cinema. Like most people, they think Korean movies are all about blood and gore. So it’s quite difficult for them to imagine a ‘nice, quiet’ person like me obsessed with Korean cinema.

To be honest, the more I watch Korean movies the more I loathe the Hollywood stuff.

Here are 5 reasons why I think Korean movies are simply the best.

Performances
I don’t think any other industry can boast of such magnificent acting talent. From Lee Byeong-heon to Choi-min sik, I think these guys can teach a thing or two to the Brad Pitts of the world. Most Korean movies I have watched had minimal conversations. The actors were either brooding or busy killing people, and that makes it so difficult to emote. If you want to know how it’s done, just watch A Bittersweet Life or 3 Iron.

Music

In India, music is just thrust upon the cinematic narrative. Yes, we are usually quite ostentatious. And that’s one of my biggest problems with Hindi movies. If you want to know how music can actually blend in with the themes of the story, catch the videos below. Of course, the impact is greater when you understand the context. But it’s superlative stuff nonetheless.


Imagery and Symbolism
Watching a good Korean movie is also about thinking beyond the obvious. Buddhist symbols and folklore find a very special place in some of the finest Korean movies. Even if you are not a spiritual person, you will find yourself captivated.

Easy on the Eye
Okay at the risk of sounding banal, I have to admit, Koreans are REALLY good looking. They have the perfect hair, the perfect physique and a perfect personality. It’s actually hard to choose between Jung Woo-sung and Lee Byeong-heon. The fact that both are tremendous actors only makes matters more complicating.

NOONE makes better thrillers than them

If you love thrillers like I do, you cannot and I repeat CANNOT miss out on Korean films. They are mostly inspired by real-life events, which makes it more intriguing to watch how the stories unfold.

So what’s your favorite Korean movie?

3 Korean Movies and a Realization

This weekend I made a profound discovery. I realized that the Oscars really suck. Not that I didn’t have misgivings earlier. When stalwarts like Joaquin Phoenix and Edward Norton are snubbed year after year, one tends to become cynical. But I became surer after watching 3 Korean movies over the weekend.

To say that the movies took my breath away would be an understatement. In fact, I’m not even sure if I can describe what I felt like after watching them. Tough task but let me give a try nevertheless.

A Tale of Two Sisters

Thriller is my favorite genre in both movies and literature. Yet, for some reason I kept avoiding this one for years (incredibly stupid of me). Left with no good choice this weekend, I finally gave in and opted for it. As soon as the movie began, I knew this was going to be good.

It is about two sisters who move back with their father and step mother. The elder one is the rebel while the younger one is docile and afraid of the step mother. The step mother takes advantage of this and begins torturing the child. As the movie progresses, you realize the director is taking you into the morbid world of a dysfunctional family. The relationship between the older girl and her father is beyond repair. In one heart wrenching scene, she accuses him of knowing everything and yet doing nothing.

There’s a twist and I’m not going to spoil it for you. But I can assure you that you won’t see it coming. It’s one of the saddest movies I have seen and I can honestly vouch that no Hollywood movie can deal with poignancy and guilt the way this movie does.

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Memories of Murder

As a woman, it’s really not easy to sit through a movie about a serial killer and rapist. But when the movie begins and you see 2 inept investigating officers rounding up invalids, you think it’s probably a dark comedy. Set in the 1980s when South Korea was under a tyrannical rule and the system was corrupt, crimes went unresolved. It was far easier to pin the blame on handicaps and poor laborers than investigating the crime. But suddenly, three officers and the audience are sucked into the horrific scenes of mutilated bodies of young women lying in the meadows.

The obsession to find the real criminal turns this black comedy into an eerie game of cat and mouse chase. As soon as you think the criminal will be caught, you are disappointed by the sudden turn of events.

Watch out for the last scene where one of the investigating officers returns to the scene of first crime and meets a young girl who hints that real criminal might still be lurking around. It’s a brilliantly performed scene that will be hard to get out of your mind.

Disturbing, engaging and depressing, Memories of a Murder sets the mood for audience who do not know how it’s going to end. So while you hope and pray for a resolution, you are faced by grim realities. What makes it more tragic is that it’s based on true events.

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A Bittersweet Life

While googling this one, I found that it has been remade into a Hindi movie that released a few years ago. That one was so sloppy and headache inducing that I thought it’s probably best to skip the original one. Two things changed my mind – Kim Ji Woon and the word revenge that was used to describe it. By the time the movie ended, I realized the Hindi one had almost nothing in common with this masterpiece. It had borrowed the premise and in the process ruined everything that made this movie truly brilliant. Yes, that’s Bollywood for you. Taking the soul out of a movie and turning into a hotchpotch of melodrama and song and dance routine.

A Bittersweet Life is essentially about the right hand man of a gangster whose life changes after he stands up for what’s right. He is tortured by the rival gang, while his own boss who he ‘worked for like a dog’ leaves him to die. He comes back with revenge on his mind and what follows are multiple gun shots, blood and violence.

What I really loved about this movie was the way the director (Kim Ji Woon) established the loneliness of the central character. He doesn’t even smile until the very end of the film. The fact that they got somebody like Lee Byung-hun, of course makes it easier to get a nuanced performance.

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As I feared, I couldn’t give you even a percent of what I felt like when I watched these Korean masterpieces. I only tried and failed. But if you watch any of these after all, I’ll take satisfaction from the fact that I could at least convince you.

Top 5 Romantic Foreign Films

Inspired by the number of hits I got for my post on Top 5 Most Underrated Romantic Movies, I’ve decided to write about top foreign language romantic movies that you may/may not have heard about.

Ready? Here you go!

Priceless (French)

Here’s a typical feel-good romcom that has all the trappings of the genre I’m honestly not too fond of. And, yet this movie makes it to this list. I’ll tell you why. Actually my problem with romantic comedies is their over-the-top and often not-so-funny humor. Plus, their plots are usually improbable and even laughable. Their done-to-death treatment of inane situations is so clumsy that I watch them when I struggle to fall asleep. An example? Two good looking people who are obviously meant to be together, do not seem to know that until the climax!

Anyway, before I turn this post into a romcom bashing article, let me talk about this ‘priceless’ movie. It’s essentially about a hooker and an enchanted bartender who she mistakes for a billionaire. After realizing who he really is, the girl quickly turns him away while the guy keeps chasing her. As the story moves forward, the guy does some rather unthinkable things just in hope of winning her over. She rebuffs his attempts but in the end she (of course) falls in love with him.

What to love about this film:

– Gad Elmaleh’s character is the one to root for. He’s gawky, shy and even stupid. Yet, you want him to win. His gradual transformation into a somewhat suave young man made me smile. And of course, I asked myself why can’t I meet a man like him!
– It’s a genuinely funny film. Watch out for the scene where Audrey Tautou tutors Gad to manipulate his mistress. Or the one where Gad pretends to be a wealthy heir.
– Love the way Audrey Tautou dresses! She’s such a fine looking woman with some serious acting chops.

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House of the Flying Daggers (Chinese)

I like the idea of two people falling in love in just 2 days. The cynic in me tells me it’s wildly impossible. But a part of me wants to believe in it and that’s why I love this movie. Set in 859 AD, this wuxia film stars Andy Lau, Zhang Ziyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro in main roles. The story is quite simple. Zhang Ziyi, a blind dancer is arrested on the suspicion of being a member of the Flying Daggers. The Flying Daggers are up against the establishment and a police officer comes up with a plan to nab them. The plan involves another officer winning over the trust of Zhang Ziyi by setting her free from the prison and then following her through the woods to apprehend the Flying Daggers.

It’s not difficult to guess that they fall in love and there’s a change in plans. There’s a twist. But I’m not going to spoil it here. You can find out when you watch the movie.

What to love about this film:

– The movie has been shot exceptionally well. Watch out for the brilliant use of colors in the final scene. It’s hard to get out of the mind.
– The sexual tension that builds up between Zhang Ziyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro. I can’t reveal the plot, but can tell you that you will be surprised!
Takeshi Kaneshiro! He has a die-hard fan in me!

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The Japanese Wife (Bengali/Indian)

There’s something truly special about this simple film. Apart from the brilliant performances of all actors, it is one of those rare films that just tell the story. There’s no judgment, no illusions, no manipulations to evoke emotions. It’s simply a story about a poor teacher living in rural Bengal (India) who marries his Japanese pen-friend. They never meet, never see each other, yet theirs is a kind of love that is so hard to find these days.

Despite no assurances of a possible union, Snehomoy and Miyagi are devoted to each other. So, even the idea of considering a prospective match is out of question for Snehomoy. I love how his unwavering loyalty to his ‘wife’ eventually convinces his aunt that her beloved nephew will never really marry anybody else. Over the course of time, the sleepy remote village where they live also comes to accept a Japanese bride who has never set a foot there.

What to love about this film:

– This movie re-affirmed my faith in love that knows how to set itself free. I know plenty of couples who’ve been with each other for years. And yet, all that’s left between them is a façade of normalcy. Snehomoy and Miyagi, on the other hand, are refreshingly real.
– Snehomoy is the archetypal Bangali Bhodrolok (Bengali gent). He is educated yet unambitious. He has no set plans for future, yet there is no angst. He doesn’t deride his aunt for trying to find him a wife. Instead, he quietly internalizes his feelings.
– The simplicity of the film is its beauty. There’s no rush, the movie progresses at a leisurely pace while soaking you in.

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Let the Right One in (Swedish)

The miserable Twilight series has turned me so completely against vampire movies that when I heard about this one, I cringed. Another migraine-inducing vampire flick, I thought. But somehow I was coaxed into watching it, and boy am I glad?

This sensitive tale of a vampire and a 12 year old boy is set in 1981. Oskar meets Eli one day and their lives change. Eli is his only friend and he soon falls in love with her. After he discovers who she really is, he gets closer to her and their bond gets stronger.

What to love about this film:
– Two lonely kids who discover friendship and love. Need I say more?
– Brilliant cinematography. A quick note, by the way. The chilling conditions outside seem to correlate with the coldness of the hearts of those around Oskar and Eli.

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Camila (Spanish/Argentinian)

Camila is a passionate tale of forbidden love, guilt and separation. To be honest, it is not one of the most romantic movies I’ve watched. No, not by any stretch of imagination. Yet, I’m including it in this list because it touches upon several themes that make it a good watch. Also if you are a sucker for romantic tragedies, I’m quite sure you’re going to like it.

The story is set in the early 19th century. Free-spirited Camila comes from an aristocratic family. She falls in love with a young priest (Fr. Ladislao) who initially rejects her but later gives into his feelings for her. Back in those days, such love was unacceptable. So the two flee and hope to build a new life away from societal pressures. They live in bliss at first but Ladislao is later consumed by feeling of guilt for abandoning his duties. They are captured and mercilessly executed.

What to love about this film:

– Doomed lovers have always captured the imagination of die-hard romantics. Ladislao and Camila are star-crossed lovers whose tragic story will pull the strings of your hearts
– The fact that the movie is based on real people makes it all the more tragic. Under Juan Manuel de Rosas’ tyrant rule, the young couple was subjected to numerous hardships. Camila was barely 23 and eight months pregnant when she was executed by the firing squads.

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Popular Characters From Movies and Their Probable Sun Signs

Growing up, I was fascinated by the intriguing world of astrology, sun signs and palmistry. I rummaged through the old pages of Cheiro that my father had bought years ago to learn more about ‘myself’. Why am I talking about astrology all of a sudden? Well, it’s simply a thought that came to my mind the other day. I love movies and some touch me in ways that I take days, even weeks to get the characters out of my head. So, how about identifying the traits of some of my favorite characters and guessing what sun sign they could’ve been. Still with me? Good. Now, some of these characters may have birthdates. But that’s not the point. The idea is to review the traits of some of my favorite/not-so-favorite characters and align them with probable zodiac signs.

So, here we go.

Lester Burnham (American Beauty)

Having watched American Beauty for some 70 times, I remember almost all the lines from the movie. One of my closest friends, who’s also an American Beauty fan, by the way, tells me that every time she watches this movie she learns something new. I cannot help but agree. What makes it so unforgettable is its characterization and the man who tells us the story is Lester Burnham.

Now let’s see what we can know from his characteristics. When the movie begins, he’s a friendless, unpopular guy. Someone whose company doesn’t leave an impression and whose absence doesn’t make any difference. Later of course, he turns into someone anybody stuck in a monotonous routine would be able to relate to. He quits his job, takes risks and ends up doing some rather impossible/improbable things.
I think Lester is a Taurean. A Taurus guy is usually described as the strong and silent type. He probably won’t even present his true self to the world before taking it by surprise. Precisely, what Lester does once he lets his hair down.

Theodore Twombly (Her)

I’m still unsure if I liked this movie or not. But there’s no doubt in my mind that Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore Twombly is one of my favorite characters from the movies. He’s shy, introverted and deeply emotional (P.S. Kind of man I’d normally avoid in real life, but I digress). I loved the scenes where he pens letters for people who can’t express themselves or perhaps don’t want to. He is someone who fails to connect with people around him but finds himself falling in love with his OS.

All these qualities make me wonder if he is a Piscean. Pisces are born romantics and veritable loners. They don’t find loneliness alarming rather they derive pleasure out of it. Plus, they are creative and Theodore’s heartfelt letters provide ample evidence that he’s a creative man too.

Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind)

I’ll be honest. Linda Goodman herself likened Scarlett to the fiery Aries women. So nothing I write here will be absolutely original. She’s my favorite nevertheless. So, I have to include her in the list. Anywhere, here’s my two cents. Unlike the perfect female protagonists of those times, Scarlett is surprisingly real and even a flawed character. Perhaps, that’s what makes Gone with the Wind such a timeless classic. It doesn’t preach, doesn’t give us a damsel in distress and a knight in shining armor. The central protagonists are conceited, disreputable people, facing real dilemmas and moral crises. And that’s precisely why I find Scarlett more relatable than say Elizabeth Bennett.

Now the Aries qualities that Scarlett possesses. Throughout the narrative, she makes decisions that make her look selfish and narcissistic. Most Aries are derided for the exact vices. They can’t think beyond their needs, it is said. In their defense, Aries are like overgrown kids. You can’t call a child selfish, can you? It’s more or less same for the Aries folk. They think about themselves first, but calling them selfish is overly harsh. Remember, Scarlett’s toils to keep her father’s legacy (Tara) alive?

So, what’s your sun sign?