Now that the Oscars are behind us… !

2015 Oscars
American Sniper

My take on some of the movies that were nominated in the “Best Picture” category… American Sniper (Dir. Clint Eastwood) The story of America’s deadliest sniper, navy seal Chris Kyle received quite a bit of criticism soon after it launched due to the glorification of the killing of women and children in Iraq. This is the 11th Academy nomination for director Clint Eastwood and despite all the criticism, I feel that he pulled off a taut well directed gem. While it is a fact that a large number of Chris Kyle’s kills were women and children, they didn’t come easy to him. Bradley Cooper is a talented actor and his acting shone throughout the movie. He visibly showed the toll on his soul being taken every time he had to pull the trigger as he covered his marine brothers going door to door clearing buildings of militants on the ground. The roof top duel between Kyle and the militant’s ace sniper was especially noteworthy. The action is fast pace and quite realistic and Eastwood’s past experience from earlier directed/acted war movies makes a definite difference here. In the end, the toll of war sends Kyle after 4 soul rending tours of duty back home with PTSD but he didn’t let it cripple him. He recovered with great support from his wife and family but in the end it was his selfless devotion towards his fellow marines that cut short a remarkable life. A1 Boyhood This movie I must say, while a drama (and quite a long one at that) was quite revealing in many ways. Boyhood is the story of a boy called Mason (Ellar Coltrane) facing and overcoming bullying at school, puberty, the separation and divorce of his parents, losing his first love, all while trying to help his mom cope with her emotions as she careened from one failed marriage to another. The movie was painstakingly shot over 12 years with the same actors and is a refreshing change of pace from the regular Hollywood way of movie making. Ethan Hawke’s acting as the biological father was a nice turn and his many attempts to bond with his son and daughter despite his wavering job/money situation and his wife’s hostility was well executed. While at moments I felt the movie seemed to drag with long drawn out conversations, yet in the very next I caught myself smiling as  vignettes caught me with vivid flashbacks to my own childhood. All in all, a well-made film, but one where you will need to have plenty of patience and time as the director Richard Linklater takes you on a coming of age journey that is quirky, funny and full of surprises just when you least expect it. B1B2 The Grand Budapest Hotel (Dir. Wes Anderson) From the moment I saw the offbeat trailer with the bright pink hotel, I knew I had to watch this eclectic gem of a film starring the superb Ralph Fiennes as Gustave H. Gustave is the legendary concierge of a famous hotel from the (fictional) republic of Zubrowka. I especially loved the characters Zero Mustapha (played by the talented Tony Revolori) and the maniacal Jopling (played by the under-appreciated but immensely talented William Dafoe). The use of dramatic color contrasts, over the top color vignettes and layered sly and dark humor makes this a much needed movie to watch and chase those cynical movie blues away. There are few movies that I look forward to watching time and again and the Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely one of those keepers. The second and third time I watched it, I could better savor the tart narrative, turn of scene and brilliant sarcasm of our society and social expectations much like an aged wine over a well cooked dinner. Even now as I write, I can’t help but smile at some of the well shot scenes (the orchestrated shoot out inside the hotel at the end of the film was one such gem). I must warn the gentle viewer that some of the action scenes end up with a quite violent turn so it’s best to fortify oneself first as these creep up and leap upon your unwary senses quite suddenly. But all in all, a definitely enjoyable watch on any evening… G1G2

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