Sometimes I end up watching such great movies, but I never get to blog about them. A good example is the three excellent films I watched in March 2015; Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013), Haider (2014) and Her (2013). I never got a chance to write even a mini-critique on them. Thus this month I though, I should do a post, of all the films I watched in May, including the best, the bad and the not so bad.

My May Movies 2015

So here is a round up of the all the films (feature length, short film, television movie & television mini-series) I watched this month, May 2015.
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Le Vice et La Vertu (1963)

Le Vice et La Vertu (1963)Director Roger Vadim’s Le Vice et La Vertu, is mostly a chic sexploitation of his then life partner, Catherine Deneuve. Roger Vadim was a very aesthetically stylish director of his time, yet somewhat lacking in great story telling; who was notorious for the way he directed his two bewitchingly beautiful wives, Brigitte Bardot (in the 50’s) and Jane Fonda (mid-60’s to early 70’s), as well as his equally beautiful life partner, Catherine Deneuve (the early 60’s). All superb acting talent, but Vadim, preferred to turn them into sex-symbols of the 50’s & 60’s. Not that he was necessarily pervert, but he admired their beauty, femininity, elegance and grace; and he liked to flaunt their sexuality on screen. Yet, post-Vadim, all three femmes, went on to become some of the greatest acting talent, that existed/is still existing, in the international platform of cinematic geniuses. Especially when it comes to Deneuve and Fonda.

Le Vice et La Vertu, is a modern adaptation, inspired by, the notorious, Marquis de Sade’s, sadistic, 18th century text, Justine, ou Les Malheurs de La Vertu (Justine, or the Misfortunes of Virtue). Set during the second World War, the movie is about a group of elitist Nazi officers, residing in a remote Austrian chalet, who abduct pretty young French goddesses, and use and abuse them (sexually & otherwise) for their sexist/perverted/machismo pleasure.

Le Vice et La Vertu is beautifully filmed in black and white, yet unfortunately it’s not the best of movie viewing. This was Catherine Deneuve’s first notable role, and she plays the character of, the virtues, Justine, whose life is ruined by these monstrous Nazi officers.

It’s still a watchable movie, average fare. So do give it try for Vadim and Deneuve’s sake. It’s worth checking out, at least once. I watched Le Vice et La Vertu, on TV5MONDE. The first film, I watched this month.

My Rating: 6/10!!!
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American Hustle (2013)
Set in the 70’s, American Hustle, is based on real life events. As the movie starts it states that, “Some of this actually happened”.

The story is about the FBI (ABSCAM) operation, that took place in the 1970’s and early 80’s. An FBI agent (Bradley Cooper), ropes in two con-artists (Amy Adams & Christian Bale), to help him with a massive sting operation on catching corrupt American politicians red-handed.

Amy Adams

Love the movie, Love the 70’s setting, Love the cast. The acting talent involved is impeccable with Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis CK, Jack Huston, Alessandro Nivola and Elisabeth Röhm. David O. Russell’s American Hustle, was nominated for 10 Oscars, but didn’t win any.

I watched this near perfect, Hollywood, vintage, crime drama, American Hustle, on HBO Hits.

My Rating: Near Excellence!!!! 9/10!!!!!
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Warm Bodies (2013)
A Zombie Rom-Com!!! Warm Bodies was surprisingly pretty good.

Nicholas Hoult plays a zombie, residing among other living dead, within the confines of an airport. Those first few minutes of the film, was hilariously excellent. It was like a short film, within the feature film. Then came the humans. And the zombie finds a pulse, and a heart beat.

This is where the film, directed by Jonathan Levine, starts to descend, and I felt it would end up being one of those tasteless, blood and gore, flicks, with a romantic input. But luckily it wasn’t that kind of a movie, and the romance didn’t really ruin the movie experience for me. I know the story sounds pretty silly, and certain parts of it are, but I actually enjoyed it, and ‘twas way better than what I expected it to be. In fact, it was altogether a fun ride.

Warm Bodies is told from the zombie’s perspective, which itself makes it pretty unique. I’d Love to read the novel by Isaac Marion, this comical take on this zombie apocalypse, is based on.

Watched Warm Bodies on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 7/10!!!!
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Summer in February (2013)

Summer in february WeddingSummer in February is one of the most disappointing Heritage Films, I’ve seen till date. Based on a true story, this British film revolves around four famous Impressionist Artists (the Lamorna group), from the Edwardian era; especially the real life tragic love triangle involving two artists (Alfred Munnings, and his unhappy wife, Florence Carter-Wood) and a young military officer, Major Gilbert Evans.

Beautifully set, in the countryside, on the Cornwall seascape; with great potential, and capability, of being a really great film, Summer in February stars Dominic Cooper, Dan Stevens, Emily Browning, Shaun Dingwall, Hattie Morahan, Tom Ward-Thomas and Max Deacon. Directed by Christopher Menaul, the film is so poorly made, that it’s not really worth watching. Sadly a pretty bad movie, and a total waste of time.

Watched Summer in February on HBO On Demand

My Rating: 4/10!!
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Transcendence (2014)
I was pleasantly surprised. It’s actually a very good movie. Not one of those films, where special effects take over, and rule and ruin a movie. I already did a post, two weeks ago, soon after I watched it. Check it out – Transcendence of an already Superior Brain.

I saw, this really good, directorial debut by, Cinematographer, Wally Pfister, i.e. Transcendence, on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 8/10!!!!
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This Property is Condemned (1966)
One of DVD’s I bought during my Aussie trip in November 2014. Money well spent, for Sydney Pollack’s This Property is Condemned; starring Natalie Wood and Robert Redford, which happens to be a brilliant piece of cinema; is definitely a keeper. Am glad it’s part of my movie collection. Sultry Wood is just breathtaking, in her flirty, yet naïve, role, in this cinematic wonder, set in the sizzling heat of the 30’s American deep south. I already did a post on this one-of-a-kind tragic love story, an elongated version of a one-act play by Tennessee Williams, soon after I watched it. The script was co-written by Francis Ford Coppola. To read my review on This Property is Condemned, see my post Condemnation of a woman during the Depression era of the American south, from less than two weeks ago.

This Property is Condemned Wood and Redford

This Property is Condemned is just the second DVD, I watched this year. Haider, I mentioned atop, was the first (and that was back in March 2015). I still have some of films I brought from Australia, late last year. And added to which, I got down a few Hindi films, from New Delhi, India, back in February 2015. Haider happens to be one of them. This Property is Condemned, is the best, and my favourite, movie, from among all these movies, I watched this month.

My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10 !!!!!
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Good People (2014)
Starring James Franco (one of my favourite actors today), Kate Hudson, Tom Wilkinson, Omar Sy and Anna Friel; Danish director, Henrik Ruben Genz’s, Good People, shows how even a little greed can make the nicest people take a wrong turn in life.

Once a couple accidentally come across some stolen money, they decide to keep it for themselves, than turn it over to police. Soon the couple find themselves in trouble with, the deadly culprits responsible for the stolen cash, their adversary, and the cops. Quite generic, extremely uninventive, and very  predictable. Yet pretty good viewing. James Franco is brilliant, as is the rest of the cast. It’s thanks to these really good actors, that the movie is this good.

I watched Good People on HBO Hits

My Rating: 7/10!!!!
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Les Apaches (2013)
A totally senseless movie, dealing with teenagers, theft, and a senseless killing. It’s not even worth writing about. Really Bad! A waste of time.

I watched Les Apaches on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: 3/10!!
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Bessie (2015)
This television movie, is a really good Bio-Pic, on the life of legendary African-American blues singer, famously known as The Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith.

Queen Latifah, as Bessie, does a superb job, paying tribute to an American icon. Directed by Dee Rees, the film also stars, Mo’nique, Charles S. Dutton, Mike Epps, Khandi Alexander, Oliver Platt, Bryan Greenberg and Michael Kenneth Williams.

Bessie, is the only television movie I watched this month, not counting the mini-series Olive Kitteridge, which I watched later.

Watched Bessie on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 8/10!!!!
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Amour (2012)
A promise to love one another, till death do them apart. Sad, tragic and beautiful.

Austrian film director, Michael Haneke’s, Amour, is about a retired old couple, both music teachers, residing in Paris, enjoying life. They are seen leading a highly cultured, posh, tasteful, happy and relaxed life, going out to concerts, reading intellectual books and spending their free time well. And they are always together. Yet, one day the wife has stroke, and she’s bedridden. Her husband stays by her side, taking care of her, till her time is up.

Great acting, great direction, and a brilliant art-house film. A nouveau, new-wave, if you may. This French Film stars veterans, Emmanuelle Riva, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Isabelle Huppert.

Amour was nominated for 5 Oscars, including for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’, and a ‘Best Actress’ nomination for Emmanuelle Riva. Making her the oldest actress to be nominated for an Oscar that year. The 85th Academy Awards, was being held, on her 86th Birthday, itself. Pity she lost out to Jennifer Lawrence, for Silver Linings Playbook (2012). It’s also interesting to note, while Riva was the oldest nominee, the youngest ‘Best Actress’ nominee, was 9 year old, Quvenzhané Wallis, for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), that year.

Winner of the Palme d’Or, at the Cannes Film Festival, in 2012; and Oscar winner for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’, at the 85th Academy Awards, the following year; Amour is the best French Film, I watched, on TV5MONDE, this month. Plus, it’s the last Palme d’Or winner I watched (See my list Palme d’Or Winners – from the past, that I’ve watched so far, on IMDB, seen only 18 winners so far).

My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10 !!!!!   
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Noah (2014)

Noah - Douglas BoothOne the least impressive Biblical adaptations on screen.

Logan Lerman (a young favourite of mine) as Ham, is nothing but a juicy piece of tasty looking ham, a total disappointment. Lerman, generally a really good actor, just hams it up, in this movie. Pun(s) intended.

With an impressive cast; including Anthony Hopkins, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Douglas Booth and Emma Watson; Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is one of the most boring, and time consuming, films, I watched this month. Pretty Bad!

Watched Noah on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 4/10!!
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Eight Below (2006)
Very good movie, set in Antarctica, and inspired by true events.

A story about how an abandoned group of dogs, survive the harshest of winters in the south pole. A very sad movie, beautifully made by Frank Marshall, and starring Paul Walker, Jason Biggs and Bruce Greenwood.

Eight Below

My puppy, Gingerella, sat through the whole movie with me, watching it from here and there, and being confused as to what those dogs were doing inside a flat wide screen.

Saw Eight Below on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 8/10!!!!
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Bombay Velvet (2015)
Beautiful costumes. Era of the late 40’s, 50’s & 60’s captured well. Stylish. Nice music. Story pretty good. Acting pretty good (especially Karan Johar, who is spot on, in his cool, effeminate, villainous persona). Ranbir Kapoor’s hair do, and body language remind one of classic Bollywood hero’s like Kishore Kumar and Joy Mukherjee. Anushka Sharma captures the vintage styles to perfection. Yet, Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet, is a very poorly executed movie. It’s not a bad movie as such, it’s just not a good film either. And definitely not worth sitting through on the Big Screen. And I watched it on the Big Screen. The travel, the time, the traffic, the heat, the sweat, and icily freezing film hall (which made you feel you were watching the film up in the Alps, open air), were not worth the trouble I had to go through to watch this movie. Bombay Velvet is just the third film I watched on the Big Screen this year. The first two being; P.K. (2014) & The Theory of Everything (2014), in January and February 2015, respectively.

Average fare! Nothing to miss! OK venture!

My Rating: 5/10!!!
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Les Invasions Barbares (2003)
A hilariously excellent comedy, with a touch of sadness. Les Invasions Barbares, a.k.a. (English title) The Barbarian Invasions, is about a dying man, spending his last days, in the company of his old friends, flames, his ex-wife and his estranged son. It’s witty, crazy, sad, and a lot of fun. Simply Hilarious!!!!!

Directed by Denys Arcand, the movie comprises of actors, Rémy Girard, Stéphane Rousseau, Dorothée Berryman, Marie-Josée Croze, Louise Portal, Toni Cecchinato, Marina Hands and Yves Jacques.

One of the Best Canadian films I’ve seen. Watched, this Oscar winning, Les Invasions Barbares on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10 !!!!!  
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Papa Oom Mow Mow (2014)
The only short film I watched this month.

This short film is about a young punk, a rebel, who doesn’t find happiness in his way of life. Set in Rouen, France, Papa Oom Mow Mow, does a superb depiction of the 1980’s. Especially with the punk hairdo’s and very 80’s fashionable attire. But, it is just an average film, not a great movie to sit through.

Watched Papa Oom Mow Mow on TV5MONDE, just after Les Invasions Barbares.

My Rating: 5/10!!!
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Olive Kitteridge (2014)
True this is not a movie, but a mini-series. Yet a mini-series, is almost like a four hour long television movie. Thus, Olive Kitteridge, the only mini-series I watched this month, has every right to be on this list.

Olive Kitteridge

The show revolves, around a depressed, miserable woman, Mrs. Olive Kitteridge, living in a fictional, sleepy, New England town, in Maine, USA. It specifically explores Mrs. Kitteridge’s relationship; with her husband, Henry Kitteridge; son, Christopher Kitteridge; family acquaintances; and other townsfolk. Olive is very good at keeping her emotions to herself, not letting anyone in. Beneath her harsh exterior, lies a soft heart, and thus she suffers for it, all on her own. Whilst others dismiss her as an unfeeling, crude and sarcastic, woman, with no feelings what so ever. Yet, Olive Kitteridge, too is woman, who’s very adamant, highly negative, stuck in her old ways, and never willing to change. At the same time, we see her open minded attitude, as well, especially when she tells off a narrow minded man, for rejecting his daughter, because of her sexual orientation. Olive Kitteridge, is a good housewife, but not a great wife. Her maternal instincts pop up, in concern for a miserable son of depressive woman, but Olive Kitteridge, herself , is far from being a perfect mother, to her own son. She is a complex character, who’s living, ’cause she is alive, leading an unhappy existence. Her routine life goes on and on, and she has no desire to continue living; yet she saves unhappy people from giving up on life, and who plot to end their own lives. At the same time, her complicated son resents her, for ruining his life, and making him feel like a failure, besides the fact he’s a well to do podiatrist.

Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins are superb in the lead, as are the supporting cast, including John Gallagher Jr., Zoe Kazan, Brady Corbet, Cory Michael Smith, John T. Mullen, Peter Mullan, Jesse Plemons and Bill Murray

This excellent mini-series, is set, within a span of 25 years; from around 1980 (when the Kitteridge’s are in their middle-ages, with a teenage son), till about the mid-noughties (when the widowed Olive Kitteridge leads a lonely life into her old age). Beautifully filmed, with a bleak outlook throughout the show, the second episode has some really interesting sequences of magical realism. Yet, this is shown through the eyes of a depressed young medical student, thus not meant to seem realistic. It’s only in his mind. Yet it’s a surreal experience. The show, through various episodes deals with crime, drama, romance, desire, psychology, loneliness and tragedy. A must see!!!!!

Watched, this four part, mini-series, Olive Kitteridge, on HBO On Demand, within two days (two episodes each day).

My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10 !!!!!   
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Michael Kohlhaas (2013)
The French Film, Michael Kohlhaas, is based on a novel, which is loosely based on the life of the merchant, Hans Kohlhase (1500-1540), a 16th century historical figure, from Germany.

The movie, is about an ordinary man, who seeks justice, for the insensitive treatment of his horses, his man servant, and later the murder of his wife. When turned down, he ends up plotting revenge against the whole elitist system.

Quite dull, but due to a pretty good storyline, the movie was watchable. Definitely not a great historical drama. Yet a must see for any history buff.

The movie; directed by Arnaud des Pallières; stars Mads Mikkelsen, in the lead (as Michael Kohlhaas), alongside Denis Lavant, Sergi López, David Kross, Swann Arlaud, Bruno Ganz, Amira Casar, Roxane Duran (in a cameo, as the Princess) and little Mélusine Mayance (as Michael Kohlhaas’ daughter).

Watched Michael Kohlhaas on TV5MONDE

My Rating: 6/10!!!
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Dolly ki Doli (2015)

Sonam kapoor as DollyHeaded by Sonam Kapoor in the lead, this is a comedy about a little group of swindlers, who rob the rich and vulgar, through Dolly (Kapoor), their star con-woman. She marries into these, Mama’s and Papa’s, boy’s, who haven’t much of backbone, and robs them blind on her wedding night. Meanwhile a cop, who seems to have a personal vendetta, against Dolly, is on the lookout for her.

Bollywood film, Dolly ki Doli, has the capability of being a really good, authentic, comedy, but it fails to deliver. A bit of drag, unmemorable songs, and the predictable love angle, kind of ruin it. But I do like the fact, the movie didn’t dive back into her past romance, of being ditched, and reason for her being a con woman. That’s all showcased within one flashback song sequence. And I did love the way the movie ended. The special appearances by, Saif Ali Khan, real life royalty playing a fictional Prince, and the breathtaking, Malaika Arora Khan, in a seductive musical number, were an added bonus.

Dolly’s character, was very well handled by fashionista Sonam Kapoor. Among her ditched line of grooms, we see, actors Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma, who don’t easily give up on her, nor the loot. The cop was played by Pulkit Samrat. This was the directorial debut of Abhishek Dogra.

Watched, the Hindi film, Dolly ki Doli, today (Sunday) afternoon, on Star Plus.

My Rating: 5/10!!
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