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(No, not the crappy band.)

The Trip (1967) ***

Mildly disappointing LSD flick from the Corman factory written by Jack Nicholson. Peter Fonda is the TV ad director who decides to go on an acid trip, guided by his friend Bruce Dern. Cue a lot of psychedelic light effects, incessant cuts, gratuitous Dennis Hopper and a lot of paranoid freaking out. Frankly, unless you're on acid yourself, the film becomes rather redundant after a while; despite only being an hour and twenty minutes long, it feels interminable. The cast (which also includes Susan Strasberg in a thankless role as Fonda's ex-wife, who he keeps hallucinating about) do their best, but it's obvious (despite the cheesy, tacked-on message at the beginning of the film) that the movie was made for people who were stoned. It doesn't quite have the peculiar charm of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (which suffered from a similar fate, but was strangely entertaining and simultaneously headache-inducing) nor does it work too well as a coherent story. It's still not a bad movie; it's pretty well-made in spite of all this, and it certainly seems realistic (Fonda, Nicholson, Corman and Dern all did some 'research' before shooting) but that doesn't help it much.

Dirty Pretty Things (2003) ***1/2

Captivating (though flawed) study of a Nigerian exile named Okwe (Chiwetel Eijofor) who lives in London, dividing his time between jobs as a cabbie and hotel receptionist. He finds a human heart in a toilet and uncovers a organ-trafficking ring that's being led by none other than his greasy boss (Sergi Lopez). The thing is, he particularly targets immigrants, refugees and illegal aliens... including Senay (Audrey Tautou), the young Turkish woman with whom Okwe shares an apartment. Very compelling story is well-presented by director Stephen Frears and superbly-acted by the cast, but shy away from the film's core and problems soon arise. The supporting characters are rather one-dimensional (none more so that the traditional hooker with a heart of gold or the two maniacal Immigration cops, one of whom even has a mustache that just begs to be twirled) and when the film hits its first 'twist', it becomes relatively easy to see where the movie is going.

City of Joy (1992) ***

Passable mini-epic set in Calcutta stars Patrick Swayze as a selfish American doctor who has a young patient die on him and decides to go find himself in Calcutta. There he meets a farmer (Om Puri), new to the city, who eventually becomes a rickshaw driver. Meanwhile, Swayze builds a free clinic and a big fat evil guy makes the rickshaw man's life hell. The rickshaw story is ten times more interesting than anything Swayze ever does in the movie; if Swayze was anywhere near decent as a actor, this would be forgivable... but seeing as how he is one of the most boring actors I've seen, it makes the dullness of the storyline twice as infuriating. Puri is much, much better and his storyline is actually much more entertaining. This is the kind of epic-lite that makes for passable viewing in a class where anything else would be much, much more boring.

12 Angry Men (1957) *****

A deceptively simple concept: 12 jurors, one room and one decision to make. It's the kind of premise that makes for a good little potboiler... but the fanatical attention to detail present in Reginald Rose's script and the intensity of the performances (coupled with Lumet's airtight direction) raise this well above a simple B-movie whodunit. Henry Fonda is Juror #8, assigned (with eleven other men) to the murder case of a young man who is accused of killing his father. #8 is the only one who believes that the young man is not guilty, and he sets out to get everyone to change their mind. Completely airtight in its development, the film builds suspense with nothing but character development and dialogue. The top-notch cast (besides Fonda, the film also stars Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman and a handful of other venerable character actors) makes this the best film of its type; many have tried to follow in its footsteps... but few have achieved what this has.

Lost in La Mancha (2003) ***1/2

Originally intended as a DVD extra, this documentary documents the short, troubled production of Terry Gilliam's "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote". The film follows an eager Gilliam through pre-production as he secures the cast (Johnny Depp, Jean Rochefort, Vanessa Paradis) and sets up his pet project, an overly ambitious fantasy he has been planning for ten years. As they draw closer to the first shooting day, however, problem after problem befalls the production: the soundstage is horrible, Rochefort gets sick, the weather is so awful that shooting cannot be continued. Lost in La Mancha is a fascinating film because there rarely are making-of movies for movies that never get made. It'S interesting to see how it works when it doesn't work... but the film remains a glorified DVD extra, glossing over certain aspects of the film and devoting too much time to footage of the filmmakers sitting around wondering what to do. Ironically, the minimal amounts of footage that were shot are tantalizing... but unlike DVD extras, you'll never see the movie.
(***)
I'm beginning the rather lengthy task of entering into the database every film I have seen, at least those I have a decent memory of. Some may have the briefest of reviews while many will just have a number. Those films that I consider personal favorites and/or those that have some historical signficance I will add later when I have time for more lengthy reviews.

Corrina, Corrina
Director: Jessie Nelson
Stars: Whoopi Goldberg, Ray Liotta, Joan Cusack, Don Ameche, Tina Majoriino.
Synopsis: Sentimental drama about loss and race relations. Story becomes too sappy.

City of Joy
Director: Roland Joffe
Stars: Patrick Swayze, Pauline Collins, Om Puri.
Synopsis: An American surgeon tries to find himself in the povery striken city of Calcutta, India. Should have been a much better film.

The Cutting Edge
Director: Paul Michael Glaser
Stars: D.B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly.
Synopsis: Spoiled Ice Princess and washed up hockey player team up in an attempt to make the Olympics. This romantic comedy is about as cliched and cheesy as it can get.

Class Action
Director: Michael Apted
Stars: Gene Hackman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Laurence Fishburne, Colin Friels.
Synopsis: Watchable courtroom drama has a liberal lawyer (Hackman) who's firm has filed a lawsuit against a major auto manufacturer his conservative daughter represents.
There isn't so much joy as we could pretend just from reading the tittle of the movie. In fact the movie shows you the way you can survive even when there are not so many reasons to live for.

It was nice and interesting learning how people from India live.
Joffe's epic movie filmed on location in India is a really good glimpse at another culture. It is a beautifully filmed story about an American doctor who is fatigued with the medical system in USA and goes to India on "trek". There he has a series if incidents which finally involve him in a free medical clinic in Calcutta's poorest slum. I wanted to like this movie as it is beautifully told and filmed. However Swayze's Dialogue and responses to thing that happen are so crass barbarian as to be insulting to the intelligence. Not sure if it was the screenwriter or Swayze's influence which created all the horrible American slang and Americanisms in Swayze's dialogue. What would have otherwise been a four or five star movie is a two star movie due to this horrible dialogue. His speech and mannerisms are offensive to me as an Educated American. (A medical doctor talks and reacts like this?? NO) This film is emotional and compassionate and has a nice ending but somebody has to take the blame for the horrible string of words that come out of the role of the doctor played by
Swayze. from eberts review: " City of Joy seems a little too "written," too conformed to the rituals of Hollywood screenplays. There's so much interesting stuff in the movie we are prepared to forgive that, but still, thinking back on the film, it wouldn't have suffered if the entire plot involving Swayze and Collins had been dropped, and Joffe had simply told the story of the rickshaw man. He, and his dilemma, will be there in Calcutta long after visiting surgeons and dedicated nurses have been absorbed into the city's relentless flow." 2 stars
I read the translated version of this novel in bangla when I was 12. Ever since then I have been a fan of this novel. I enjoyed the movie and thought it missed few things mentioned in the novel.
Exceptional movie