Tropa De Elite (Elite Squad)
No movie in recent times has offered such a realistic portrayal of urban crime, and the trials and tribulations that police officers endure. From the writer of “City of God”, this movie tells the story of BOPE (The Brazilian Special Police) and their encounters to curb the city's gun and drug trade in Rio. It is also about a captain in a BOPE squad, who because of personal issues wishes to relinquish his command, and is in search of a worthy successor for his job. Running parallel is the story of two close friends, Neto and Matias, young idealistic men who join up with the regular police force and quickly learn the murky truth about corruption and extent to which it has permeated the police force. Frustrated, they decide to take charge and do some good for the society as well as the force. A very gritty and intelligent action drama that is well directed and scripted.
This is Spinal Tap
Often referred to as the ‘Mother of all Mockumentaries', this is a satire on an English heavy metal band, named Spinal Tap, who are touring the U.S., promoting their latest album. It showcases the issues they run into one after another, in terms of concert cancellations due to low turnout, failing on-stage props, ego issues between band members etc. Brilliantly directed on debut by Rob Reiner (who also plays the role of Marty DiBergi, the director of the documentary in the film), the film has fantastic dialogues from beginning to end, and they're made even better by an amazing cast delivering ludicrous lines with a straight face. A well-crafted, hilarious comedy that you should treat yourself to. The Yakuza
I had never been a major fan of Robert Mitchum, having seen him only in “Cape Fear” prior to this. This film changed all that. The Yakuza tells the story of Harry Kilmer, a retired detective (played by Mitchum) who returns to Tokyo to investigate the kidnapping of his friend's daughter by calling on the support of his friend (Tanaka Ken), a former Yakuza family captain played by the solid Ken Takakura, based on the debt (giri) he owes Harry. Amazingly directed by Sydney Pollack, with interesting plot twists and stunning action sequences (the sword fight between Tanaka and the rival members is one of the most realistic portrayals of a sword fight in cinema till date), The Yakuza delivers in all areas and deals with the concept of repaying a debt, honour and loyalty in a powerful but simple fashion.
F. Gary Gray
People may often rate Cheech and Chong's “Up in Smoke” as the original buddy stoner comedy. I would have to say it's Friday, purely for its minimalistic style and character development. It tells the story of two friends, Craig and Smokey (played by Ice Cube and Chris Tucker) sitting on their porch on a humid Friday afternoon in downtown L.A., dealing with the money they owe drug dealers and the neighbourhood bully who mugs people, smoking marijuana and having fun with beautiful women. In the absence of any real plot, the film plays on a series of events from morning till night, with Chris Tucker shining with his hilarious portrayal as Smokey. Man On Wire
Man on Wire
Dubbed as the artistic crime of the century, this documentary looks at the unbelievable feat of Philippe Petit's tight-rope walk across the twin towers in 1974 and the planning and support he had from his friends to do so. Based on a collection of footage, re-enactments, photos and TV coverage from the time, it brings to the audience how this man achieved this daring stunt. Whilst we all know the background, the documentary does a credible job of turning this into a thriller right up to the moment when he actually steps on the wire and begins to walk. It's inspirational, moving and poetic, and one cannot help but be in awe of this eccentric Frenchman and his outlook on life.
Those that almost made it:
Rounders: John Dahl
Full Metal Jacket: Stanley Kubrick
Straw Dogs: Sam Peckinpah
Shogun Assassin: Robert Houston
The Machinist: Brad Anderson
Richard Pryor - Live in Concert: Jeff Margolis
Two Lane Blacktop: Monte Hellman
Good Night Good Luck: George Clooney
(Shyam V. Krishnamurthy is deputy manager, product development at Ford India, Chennai.)