My Cousin Vinny
A comedy about an absolutely inexperienced lawyer, defending his cousin in a murder case the film stars Joe Pesci as the marvellous Vinny, a leather-jacketed attorney, as street-smart as he is law-book-dumb. The film’s secret ingredient is Marisa Tomei. As Vinny’s fiancée Lisa, she’s a gritty, aggressive and perfect match for Vinny, and matches him expression for expression and expletive for expletive. Tomei won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in this film. Veteran character actor Fred Gwynne is also wonderful, and a different sort of adversary for Vinny, adding a refined order to the proceedings. Apart from the humour, the film carries an important message — that of the triumph of common sense.
12 Angry Men
My all-time favourite, 12 Angry Men is a 1957 American drama film directed by Sidney Lumet. The film tells the story of a jury, made up of 12 men, as they deliberate the guilt or acquittal of a young boy accused of murdering his father. The film is notable for its almost exclusive use of one set and explores many techniques of consensus-building, and the difficulties encountered in the process, among a group of men whose range of personalities adds intensity and conflict. In today’s age of special effects and CGI graphics, the movie is a shining example of what can be achieved through a strong script, excellent acting and superb direction. The cast includes Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cob.
The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption was the directorial debut of screenwriter Frank Darabont. Often, movie adaptations of published works fail to live up to expectations. However, Frank Darabont’s excellent direction and script have helped enhance the eternal story of hope the book portrays. Based on the novella by Stephen King (Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption), this is the story of a man (Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne) wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and sentenced to life imprisonment. As the story unfolds, Dufresne, overcomes the difficult life of prison and inspires his fellow inmates to lift their spirits and find meaning in their lives. The surprise at the ending will take your breath away. The excellent cast also includes Morgan Freeman (as “Red”) in a matchless supporting role.
Silence of the Lambs
The Silence of the Lambs is a suspenseful, psychological thriller based on Thomas Harris’ 1988 best-selling novel of the same name. The film is memorable for superb acting by the two lead characters — Sir Anthony Hopkins masterfully portraying the evil personified, intelligent psychiatrist turned psychopath Hannibal Lecter and Jodie Foster playing a dedicated, fledgling, vulnerable and rising female FBI agent, Clarice Starling. The most compelling part of the film is the bargaining game between the two to share information about another wanted serial killer (Buffalo Bill) and the dynamics of their relationship in a cat-and-mouse battle of nerves.
A forgotten classic, Garam Hawa is a film about the trials and tribulations of a Muslim joint family and the consequences it has to face after the Partition of India. Balraj Sahni, in one of the finest and realistic performance of his twilight years, plays the character of Salim Mirza, the head of the family. He grapples to keep his family together, as one by one, his family members head to Pakistan because of the problems they face here. Problems also mount because of an unmarried daughter and an unemployed son in the house. The film ends on a positive note as Salim, gives up the idea of leaving for Pakistan and instead joins a peaceful march demanding equal rights for Muslims.
Those that almost made it
Anand: Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Anuradha: Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Mask: Chuck Russel
Searching for Bobby Fischer: Steven Zeillian
Game Over – Kasparov and the Machine: Vikram Jayanti
Sunil Prabhat is Deputy Director in the Ministry of Railways, New Delhi. He enjoys watching meaningful cinema and documentaries.