September 25th, 2016


Movie Critique 2016 – 05/29/2016: The Untouchables

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: A movie that makes you want to fight for justice, against human evils and come out top even if you lose a little in the process.

The Untouchables is a 1987American gangster film based on 1957 book of the same name. The movie follows the prohibition agent, Elliot Ness' efforts in the 1930s to capture Chicago mobster Al Capone and bring him to justice during prohibition.

The first time I saw this movie it was 20 years after it was shown on TNT and I instantly fell in love with the Andy Garcia of the 80s even though I had already watched Ocean's Trilogy by then. He left a distinct mark on my mind for that movie that when I saw it a few years later I realized there was Sean Connery too in the movie. **Wicked Grin** Anyways, with the 30th anniversary coming up next year, I thought it’s a good movie to be part of my review posts for this year.

Elliot Ness, a prohibition agent in the year 1930, forms a special team of agents that he hand picks them for their courage, morality and incorruptibility, calling themselves as The Untouchables.

With the help of his small group he plans to bring down Al Capone as he has the entire Chicago under his control with his illegal supply of liquor. Although his initial attempts fail, the proceeds to form a small group of honest and courageous agents with integrity and incorruptible nature who successfully raid on one of Capone's liquor cache. In another raid they get hold of one of Capone's book keeper and try to use him to get Capone on tax evasion case. However Capone has his book keeper along with Oscar Wallace - accountant assigned to Ness from Washington, D.C. - killed.

While Ness and George Stone - cop with a superior marksmanship - figure out what to do next, Jimmy Malone - Irish-American veteran officer - finds out that police chief had indeed sold out Wallace and the book keeper. Threatening him, Malone finds out where the chief book keeper of Capone, Walter Payne, was heading.

But Capone's hit man Frank Nitti kills Malone. However Malone manages give the information to Ness and Stone before he dies. Ness and Stone manage to capture Payne albeit there is bloodshed of Capone's men, they bring him to court to finally get Al Capone imprisoned.

The movie explores  integrity, honesty and courage of the police men and other non-uniform officers who work hard to bring down a mobster despite their loss in life and love. That always strikes a chord in any human behind who has a heart. Added to that each of the characters portraying the roles have lived it thoroughly to make a perfect plot. Robert De Niro as Al Capone can be only played by him and no other. Who else can portray the role of a mobster who can kill his own henchman with a smile as pleasant as though he would be posing for a camera. Chilling performance.

Sean Connery as Jimmy Malone is definitely Oscar Worthy - no wonder he won an Oscar. So did Andy Garcia as George Stone and Charles Martin Smith as George Wallace fitted perfectly beside Sean Connery and Kevin Costner as Elliot Ness.

Most of the plot has been kept true to the real life story including the scene where Capone bashes one of his henchman's head with a baseball bat. Perhaps that added to the success of the film. The iconic scene where Ness and Stone fight Capone's men to capture Payne is one of the most memorable one in the movie as well. The baby carriage rolling down the steps from this scene has been used in so many other American and Hindi movies as well making this scene immortal in the world of movie makers.

One of the best gangster movies made in American film history that warrants a watch again and again, no matter how many times one had seen it. If you have not seen it yet, I would say you have to add it to your watch list immediately.

Spoiler Alerts
1) The movie was based on the 1957 book of the same name, but the book was also made into a hit series of the same name, that ran on ABC Television Network from 1959 to 1963. Another TV Show for me to check out for a future blog post.
2) This was the only movie role for which Sean Connery won an Oscar.

Movie Critique 2016 – 05/30/2016: Last Holiday

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4.5 / 5
Recommendation: A little bit of fun with bits and pieces of sadness yet delivering powerful life's lessons.

Last Holiday is a 2006 American comedy film starring Queen Latifah and LL Cool J amongst the others. The movie is about a store assistant who spends all of her funds on a luxury holiday in Europe when she is diagnosed with a rare brain condition with only a few weeks to live. It is loosely based on the 1950 British film of the same name.

When I was vacationing in Virginia Beach with a few friends, we had dinner at the local Ynot Italian pizza place one of the days - which happens to be the day this post is being written for. One of our friends had order a certain dish with a few instructions. Although the waitress had mentioned that they normally don’t do it that way, she did say that she will tell the chef about it. To my friend's surprise, the chef had made it exactly how she wanted and more. She complimented the chef through the waitress. To all of our surprise, the chef walked to our table and spoke to our friend, made sure she was really happy. He was a very young chef and it was really nice of him to come out and speak with us. At that age he seems to have already grasped the ropes of an established chef.

The entire situation reminded me of the scene in this movie where Queen Latifah walks into the hotel's restaurant, where she realizes that Chef Didier - her favorite chef - was cooking that day and he doesn’t cook any dish twice. So she orders all of the dishes on the menu without any changes. Chef Didier gets so surprised and intrigued that he personally comes to meet her.  Youtube doesn’t have the complete scene but this is a snippet of it.

I did mention to my friends about the scene and the movie and asked them to watch if they get a chance. For me this is THE GO TO movie whenever I feel down or a little sad or a little off beat that day. This movie brings out the hidden light in me, shakes up all of my depression and puts me in a sunny path.

Georgia Byrd (portrayed by Queen Latifah) is a humble employee in the cookware department at Kragen's Department Store in New Orleans. She is in love with Sean Williams (portrayed by LL Cool J) who works in the grills department. She maintains a journal called "Possibilities" in which she records her dreams and what she wanted to be if life gives her a chance. An accidental bump to the cabinet door puts her in front of a CAT scan that reveals that she has a very rare brain disease and that she has only a few weeks to live. Depressed to the core, when she realizes that she is all alone with nothing to call something or someone as hers, she quits her job, liquidates all her asserts and sets off on a dream vacation at the deluxe Grandhotel Pupp in the spa city of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic.

There she meets Matthew Kragen - the owner of the store she worked prior to her last holiday - Senator Dillings - from her home state Louisiana - Kragen's mistress Miss Burns, a prominent congressman Stewart and famed Chef Didier. With her simplicity and will to enjoy the last few weeks of her life to the fullest she wins the hearts of not only the hotel staff but most of the dignitaries she meets. The rest of the story continues on how she changes the lives of those people she meets, how she takes on what life throws at her and lives to its full and eventually comes out with an upper hand.

The movie has its own flaws - one can guess how the movie ends in the beginning itself; the morals and message perhaps is not new either. However, It is a movie that I would recommend everyone to watch not just because of the actors or the characters, but for the fact that it will take way any gloominess that might have resided in your mind or heart at that moment - even if it is for a few hours. Yet, the movie leaves you always with a new perspective towards life.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) More than him being an actor or a singer, I love LL Cool J in the role of Special Agent Sam Hanna in NCIS: Los Angeles TV show.
2) All the dishes served in the movie were prepared by Food Network Chefs and the recipes are posted on their website.
3) I havent watched the 1950 British movie of the same name, but that is something I have marked for my future post. :)