Need For Speed (2014)

SCOTT WAUGH Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.  USA/India/United Kingdom/France/Philippines, 2014.  DreamWorks, Reliance Entertainment, Bandito Brothers.  Story by George Gatins, John Gatins, Screenplay by George Gatins.  Cinematography by Shane Hurlbut.  Produced by John Gatins, Patrick O’Brien, Mark Sourian.  Music by Nathan Furst.  Production Design by Jon Hutman.  Costume Design by Ellen Mirojnick.  Film Editing by Paul Rubell, Scott Waugh.  After an illegal race on…

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Earth

BBBB (out of 5) Beautifully shot romance set against the political backdrop of India on the brink of partition:  the British Empire is about to withdraw its control over the nation and talk is rife of defining a border to create what would eventually become present-day Pakistan. In Lahore, tensions among Sikh, Muslim and Hindu…

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Fire

BBB.5 (out of 5) A household is crowded with loneliness and frustration as two brothers run their businesses downstairs while, upstairs, their neglected wives take care of their aging mother-in-law and each other.  Sita has just become wife to Jatin, her head full of movie romance before her reality is destroyed by the realization that…

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The Fifth Estate

BB.5 (out of 5) The saga of Julian Assange is given the cinematic treatment by Bill Condon, with Benedict Cumberbatch doing an uncanny riff on the man and an excellent Daniel Brühl as his sidekick, Daniel Berg. The two of them start as journalists with a conscience when their first major project, to reveal the identities of crooked financiers…

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Tigers

BBB (out of 5) Struggling to sell pharmaceutical products created by local Pakistani companies, Ayan gives in to the pressures of corporate giants and starts working instead for Lasta (which the film very cheekily points out is subbing in for Nestle). He is immediately a success, bringing plenty of money home to his family and…

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The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha (Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne)

BBBB (out of 5) A terrific storybook adventure bursting with comedy and music, aided by gorgeous direction from a lighthearted Satyajit Ray and a beautiful visual landscape. Sweet and simple Goopy is booted from his village for annoying everyone with his tuneless singing, wandering into the wilderness and meeting an equally shunned drummer who calls…

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The Philosopher’s Stone (Parash Pathar)

BBBB (out of 5) Lighthearted caprice from Satyajit Ray, about a low-level bank clerk who stumbles upon a magical stone that turns any metal it touches into gold.  Before long he is a local fatcat with an enormous fortune, but all is not as it appears; his bills are also piling up and his wife…

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The Golden Fortress (Sonar Kella)

BBBB (out of 5) Wonderful cross-country adventure that begins when a married couple realize that the drawings their little boy is making are referencing a past life. The boy’s ability to remember living in a “Golden Fortress” full of treasures draws the attention of a doctor of parapsychology who wants to investigate the case, but…

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The Music Room (Jalsaghar)

BBBB (out of 5) An overextended aristocrat tries to hold on to the old ways by taking on whatever debt necessary to keep up his lavish palace, its central focus a gorgeous music room where he hosts parties including the maturation celebration of his young son.  Years later, aged and broken by tragedy, he hears…

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Charulata (The Lonely Wife)

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Reuniting with Madhabi Mukherjee, the star of his masterful The Big City, Satyajit Ray details the story of a happily married, wealthy woman whose intellectual husband encourages her abilities as a writer.  She lazily spends days playing cards but also enjoys devouring her household’s library of books, none of it really…

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The Goddess (Devi) (1960)

BBBB (out of 5) One of Satyajit Ray’s more playful and capricious films, but still possessing the emotional resonance of his best work.  A young woman lives with her husband’s family while her spouse studies abroad, her life changed completely on the night that her father-in-law wakes up from a dream and tells everyone that…

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The Big City (Mahanagar)

BBBB.5 (out of 5) The pleasure of watching Satyajit Ray’s films about women coming into their own sense of determination is one that hits you deep in the soul.  His perfectly calibrated sense of tender observation mixed with the light comedic realities of everyday living is showed off brilliantly in this film, about Arati, a…

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