- Barbara (Germany, 2012)
It is 1980s East Germany, some years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Dr. Barbara Wolff has been assigned to work at a provincial hospital as punishment for expressing a desire to move to the West. The Stasi keep a close eye on her, subjecting her to humiliating and invasive searches. The head of the hospital Dr. Andre Reiser is a sympathetic character, but Barbara, hoping to defect soon, keeps aloof from the hospital staff.
This was a fantastic film, well-framed, atmospheric, and subtly done. And I didn’t quite see the turn coming.
- The Spanish Apartment (“L’Auberge Espagnole”, France/Spain, 2002)
Xavier, a young French man (Romain Duris) comes to Barcelona to study in an exchange program. His girlfriend Martine (Audrey Tatou) stays behind and they promise to not let the physical distance affect the relationship.
On the flight Xavier meets some interesting people, but in Barcelona, he is thrust into a veritable European melting-pot when he shares an apartment with a bunch of students from diverse cultures and speaking different languages. His adventures make up this light-hearted, quirky comedy.
- The Conversation (USA, 1974)
Gene Hackman stars in this slow-paced, dark Francis Ford Coppola production. Hackman is Harry Caul, a surveillance expert, well-known in the business for his expertise as well as his introverted and private ways. Harry is going about doing his job, when he comes to suspect that the young couple he is spying on will be killed. Now his conscience won’t let him rest.
This movie doesn’t have the trappings or the “oomph” of modern-day noir, but still manages to hold interest. I’m a big Hackman fan, so this film was a real treat.
- Fever Pitch (UK, 1997)
Strait-laced, by-the-book English teacher Sarah Hughes (Ruth Gemmell) meets big-hearted, impulsive, soccer-crazy Arsenal fan Paul Ashworth (Colin Firth). She can’t stand the oaf, and that is problematic since he is teaching in the classroom right next to hers.
Fever Pitch is based on Nick Hornby’s autobiographical novel, and makes a charming film. Colin Firth appears in a curly-haired, shaggy, scruffy avatar as Arsenal devotee Paul; you might not have seen him quite like this.
- Rang de Basanti (India, 2006)
An English film-maker, Sue, comes to India to make a film on the revolutionaries of the Indian Independence struggle. She meets a group of friends, and through them witnesses the despair and frustration sweeping the youth. Her goal incites interest among the group and they decide to do something to improve the country’s lot.
This moving, patriotic film was India’s official entry to the Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film. Full review here.