Category Archives: Rishi Agrawal

Movie Review – Mulholland Dr (2001)


Mulholland Dr. evolved out of a failed television pilot. And, ironically, what would have made a terrible TV show is one of the greatest films of the decade. Mulholland Dr. would have failed on television because one of its defining characteristics is its incomprehensibility. Some see this as a fatal flaw, but part of the reason it’s a great film is because of its ambiguities. This is a difficult film, and one that requires repeated viewings to enjoy. But what really resonates for me is that Mulholland Dr. has become a film that makes sense to me. I have an interpretation, and every time I watch the film, more pieces fall into place. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of Inglourious Basterds (2009)


I remember hearing Roger Ebert once talking about the Coen Brothers’ amazing film Fargo. Specifically, Ebert was commenting on the scene between Marge Gunderson and a high school classmate Mike Yanagita, who hits on Marge despite the fact that she is married and pregnant. The scene is often criticized for having no connection to the main plot, but Ebert claimed that the scene was integral to the movie. The scene does a lot to play on the recurring theme of isolation in Fargo, but it also gives us a new perspective on Marge Gunderson. But, I think another thing that Ebert was getting at was that films don’t always have to have polished edges. I think this is what I like about Inglourious Basterds. The film isn’t perfect, but that’s part of its charm and makes it a better film overall. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of Up (2009)



I’m not a huge fan of animation, but the Pixar films consistently deliver, and Up is no exception. If you happened to miss the film in the theaters (for shame– it looked pretty damned amazing in 3-D), then this is your opportunity to watch a very good film. You can argue about whether the Pixar films are great (sometimes the films are more entertaining than good) or whether this is one of the better films in the franchise (the final act of Up is fairly predictable), but I feel sorry for anyone who says that Pixar films are not worth watching, because that would mean their inner child has died. Continue reading

Movie Review – Funny People (2009)



George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is dying and realizes that he’s never let anyone become close to him. Yes, this film is a comedy. You see, George Simmons is a legendary comedian who makes dumb films. In fact, his career trajectory is eerily similar to Sandler’s, which is why Sandler works so well in the role. Faced with his imminent death, George hires Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), a young comedian, to become his assistant and confidant. Rogen plays Ira differently than the characters that we’re used to. Ira is less confidant and arrogant than most of Rogen’s characters. For once, he actually gets to play the nice guy. Continue reading

Movie Review – Star Trek (2009)



Much of the publicity campaign around Star Trek centers on how the film is a departure from the original TV series and prior films. It seems that director J.J. Abrams wanted to emphasize that the film was a re-launch of the franchise. It was a fairly large gamble, one that threatened to alienate an obsessive fan base, but one that probably needed to be made in order to appeal to a wider audience. The hardcore fans would probably not be happy regardless of how the new film turned out, but the more casual fans, even the most devoted ones, could probably be won over. And let me tell you, the gamble paid off as Abrams has definitely put together an entertaining film. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of Wendy and Lucy (2008)



In Kelly Reichardt’s latest film, Wendy and Lucy, Michelle Williams plays Wendy, a young woman who is trying to start a new life in Alaska with her dog Lucy. Her car breaks down in a small town in Oregon and as her money is rapidly dwindling, she finds herself in dire straits. The only other actor of note is Wally Dalton, who plays a security guard who tries his best to help Wendy out. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – The Wrestler (2008)



A lot has already been said about the stellar acting in The Wrestler, especially by Mickey Rourke, in what was probably the best performance by a male actor in 2008, in his portrayal of a professional wrestler in the twilight of his career. Marisa Tomei also garnered an Oscar nomination for her role as a single-mom stripper. However, what impresses me most about the film is that director Darren Aronofsky, normally known for his arresting visuals and complex narratives, is able to tell a straightforward story with a hand-held camera. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of Rachel Getting Married (2008)



When I put Rachel Getting Married on my Top Ten list for last year, I remarked that it was like watching someone’s wedding video. That is a testament to the realism of this film. With its handheld camera work and intimate portrayals of the characters, we really feel like we’re observing the actual preparations for a wedding. Continue reading

Movie Review – Watchmen (2009)



Zack Snyder’s follow-up to the tremendously popular 300 is an adaptation of the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons graphic novel Watchmen. I think, in this particular instance, it would be helpful to give you some context for this review, because I think that opinions on this film will vary widely based on several factors. First of all, I am definitely on record in this very blog for hating 300. You can go through the archives if you want to know the specifics of my hate, as I don’t want to dwell on the subject. Also, I have read the graphic novel Watchmen and liked it. I would not call myself a fan, but I am an admirer of the original work. Finally, I strive to judge films and books on their own merits, rather than making comparisons. But, for Watchmen, especially since so much of the film is so faithful to the original, it will be difficult to avoid. I will try to talk about the film itself first, and then launch into a discussion of the merits of the film versus the comic. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of Synecdoche, New York (2008)



I am not going to be so pretentious as to pretend that I fully understand Synecdoche, New York. Nominally, the film is about a playwright in upstate New York, whose wife leaves him, taking their young daughter to Germany. After receiving a Macarthur Genius Grant, he then begins work on an autobiographical play, which spirals out of control. Eventually, after decades, the play contains hundreds of actors and fills a warehouse. As the play becomes increasingly strange, it encompasses his life and eventually becomes one of the main subjects of the play. The director not only has to hire an actor to play himself, but has to hire an actor to play that actor. Continue reading